How Important is touch in early child development?

Did you know that our sense of touch is controlled by a huge network of nerve endings and touch receptors in the skin known as the somatosensory system?

This system is responsible for all the sensations that we feel.
It is made up of a complex system of sensory neurons and pathways that send messages to the brain, in response to changes taking place on our bodies surface.

The brain does not respond to all of the somatosensory system in the same way. It is highly sensitive to touch sensations in the face (lips and tongue), hands and feet as they contain far more fine touch receptors than other areas of the body.

David Linden, a Neurobiologist at John Hopkins University, highlights the importance of touch for a baby’s development in his book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind.

“The best examples of this come from Romanian orphanages after Ceaușescu’s fall, when there just weren’t enough people around to take care of babies. They were barely touched during the day,” Linden says.
“These kids didn’t just have a host of emotional problems — though they were depressed and had high instances of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other issues — but they also had a whole raft of physical ailments. They had weakened immune systems, and skin ailments.”

“Other research has confirmed this phenomenon. We’re not entirely sure why it happens, but it seems that early touch experience is extraordinarily important for development of both cognitive function and a healthy body.”

“This is why, nowadays, when premature infants are born and put in isolators, they’re taken out for a few hours a day, and pressed against a parent’s skin.”

A study carried out by University College London in 2013, also found that touch increases the brain’s ability to construct a sense of body ownership and plays a big part in creating and sustaining a healthy sense of self.

Magic Carpet ImageTactile elements are sometimes missing from Sensory Room designs. Vast, multi-wall projections and sound systems can be fantastic for visual and auditory stimulation, but they do nothing for our touch receptors.

Sensory Guru work to ensure that all of the senses are stimulated through our Sensory Room designs, whether it be through the inclusion of a vibrating bean bag that vibrates in response to stimulating visual displays, or through the inclusion of a tactile panel.

Contact us for more information.

How can colour be used to create ambiance and enhance the learning environment?

Colours have a range of emotional and subconscious effects that can help to reinforce different moods and even trigger biochemical responses.

It is for this reason that Sensory Rooms and Learning Environments designed by Sensory Guru, incorporate LED colour-wash lighting to create ambiance by bathing rooms in colour.

The colour blue, for example, symbolises and creates feelings of calmness. Studies have also shown that blue light can help to adjust a person’s circadian rhythm (a person’s internal body clock which tells them when they are asleep or awake), which can help to increase levels of energy and vigour.

This is because skin and photoreceptors in the eye are sensitive to the colour blue, which results in an increase of blood flow around the body. As a result of this, the colour blue is also believed to help relieve feelings of pain.

reen classroom environment

Similarly, the colour green is often used in classrooms to enhance learning and concentration; while warm tones of yellow and orange can help to create a cosy, friendly and nurturing atmosphere by evoking feels of happiness and enthusiasm.

Research has shown that orange and yellow can also increase levels of creativity and muscle energy because they lead to an increase in oxygen flow to the brain, which triggers increased mental activity.

Yellow lighting Sensory Room

Sensory Guru’s brand colour pink, on the other hand, is bright, playful ­and representative of an individual’s inner child. The colour inspires feelings of comfort, compassion and is often associated with giving and receiving care.

Magic Carpet in St Joseph’s Specialist School and College

 

St Joseph's Nurture Room
St Joseph’s Nurture Room

  Read the case study

Staff at St Joseph’s Specialist School and College decided to purchase a Magic Carpet in October 2014, with the aim of enhancing the sensory experience for learners that use the school’s Nurture Room.

Since purchasing the device, staff have lived up to the school’s strapline of “no limits, just possibilities” and have proceeded to:

Take the lead in creating their own personalised apps for the Magic Carpet

 Carry out research on the effectiveness of the Magic Carpet

 Use the Magic Carpet in a number of interesting and innovative ways for relaxation, stimulation, occupational therapy, speech and language development

Karen Bratchell, Nurture Room Leader at St Joseph’s School, said: “While we originally purchased the Magic Carpet for sensory and relaxation purposes, the scope of the Magic Carpet extends far beyond this.”

“We can’t express enough to other people that, if they wanted to purchase an interactive projection system, they should get Sensory Guru’s Magic Carpet.”

Read the case study in full to learn about the exciting work being carried out at St Joseph’s Specialist School and College.

 Read the case study


Want to find out the benefits Magic Carpet could provide for you?  Contact us!

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