Monday, June 27, 2016

Environmental Enrichment (Multisensory Enrichment for Autism!)

Environmental Enrichment (EE) is an awesome protocol that has been shown to decrease autism symptoms and sensory issues and to increase receptive language and cognitive skills in children with ASD of all ages. It was designed as a low-cost program for parents to do at home. But, it can also be done in a school setting, or better yet, shared between home and school.

EE is a 6-month protocol with activities that change every two weeks. Parents/teachers select several multi-sensory activities from a list of 34 activities and do them for the two week period. They work with the child twice a day for about 15-20 minutes each. As the sessions progress, the child gains awareness of sensation and gains multi-sensory integration skills. The activities also build joint-attention skills, which are known to decrease autism severity.

The protocol is simply described in two published papers (listed below). They are open-access (available for free online). In addition, my Hands-On Activities book devotes 80 pages to the protocol, providing perhaps 200 activity variations and talking through program implementation details.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

References:

Woo, C. C., & Leon, M. (2013). Environmental enrichment as an effective treatment for autism: A randomized controlled trial. Behavioral Neuroscience, 487-97.

Woo, C., Donnelly, J. H., Steinberg-Epstein, R. R., & Leon, M. (2015). Environmental enrichment as a therapy for autism: a clinical trial replication and extension. Behavioral Neuroscience, 412-422.

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