Reading with your child has myriad benefits—including a meaningful shared experience between parent and child.
Children with complex communication needs (impairments in language comprehension, auditory processing, attending, etc.) may find it challenging to be fully engaged in storytime if the book is read in the traditional way.
Transforming a book into a multi-sensory story (1) is a great way to increase attention and make the activity more engaging for all children. A traditional story only focuses on visual and auditory input. By contrast, a multi-sensory story also involves the senses of touch, smell, taste, and proprioception—making the experience of reading more accessible.
The end goal of multi-sensory stories is to create access to the experience of a story for those who may typically encounter barriers.
While there is no current evidence that adapting traditional stories to multi-sensory stories increases listening comprehension, a recent study showed a significant increase in attending by people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (2).
Here is how you can create and experience sensory stories at home with your child’s books (see Goodnight Moon as an example):
- Choose a story.
- Think about the elements of the story:
- What experiences can a child have through touch? Smell? Taste? Etc.
- What are the defining parts of the story that should be represented? *Usually, 8-12 sensory components is a good amount.
- Add a sensory component every one or two lines.
- Put the story together: Use a small box or tupperware to keep the story and the sensory elements that you created together for future use.
- Help your child touch, feel, smell, move, hear, taste, and see the story in a new way!
- Read and experience it.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat in a consistent way.
Not only is the reading experience enjoyable for parent and child but planning the sensory elements together is a fun activity too! Get ready to enjoy your books in a different way!
Please contact me with any questions.
1. Fuller, C. (1990). A do-it-yourself guide to making six tactile books. Resources for Learning Difficulties. West-London.
2. Ine Hostyn, Bea Maes. (2013) Interaction with a person with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities: A case study in dialogue with an experienced staff member. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability 38:3, pages 189-204.