Children's Hospice Week 2020: This is...Our Sensory Activities

To recognise Children’s Hospice Week (22nd-28th June) we want to share some stories about how Charlie House helps and supports local families, now and in the future.

Sensory activities are activities which let children explore and interact with the world around them using any of their five senses. Some of the children we support may have challenges with their sight or hearing as a result of their disability or medical condition, but they can get great enjoyment from sensory experiences and activities.

For example, last summer we organised a dolphin watching boat trip on a specially adapted boat which was able to take children in wheelchairs in the sea off the coast of Aberdeen. They could feel the sea spray on their skin, feel the motion of the boat moving in the waves beneath them, smell the salt on the sea air and even hear the noise of seagulls flying in the air above the boat. This was a completely new experience for many of the families and a very different sensory experience from anything the children had experienced before.

The activities we arrange with therapy ponies and the Critter Keeper are also very popular for the sensory experience they offer children. Stroking the horses and feeling the texture of their hair and mane, as well as the heat from their bodies, can be a calming experience for children. They also have the opportunity to take the pony for a walk, this lets them hear the clop of their hooves and feel the horse moving beside them. Similarly, when they visit the Critter Keeper they can handle a variety of animals, insects and creepy crawlies including tarantulas, snakes and hedgehogs. The feel of stroking the skin of a snake or a centipede legs tickling as it walks up your arm are a completely unique sensory experience for the children.

At Charlie House we integrate the opportunity for sensory play into as many of our activities as we can. This sometimes takes the form of physical experiences like children feeling the movement of a trampoline beneath them as they are gently bounced, and is sometimes more practical like helping children to do arts and crafts together.

Sensory experiences can also be relaxing for children and at some of our activities they have the opportunity to spend time in a sensory room. Sensory rooms allow you to control every aspect of the environment including light, sound, music, projected images and different surfaces to sit and lie on. We have lots of sensory items including fibre optic lights, projectors and different sorts of toys so families can re-create a sensory environment at home.

We have been supporting families to do their own sensory activities at home during lockdown. Families were gifted goody bags of toys and sensory items which were chosen to meet their child’s specific needs and these proved to be very popular with families. We also post Sensory Saturday videos on our social media channels showing families how to make their own DIY sensory items including a calm jar, fairy dough and a rainbow drawing salt tray. Visit our Facebook page to try some of these activities yourself.

To enable us to provide vital support to families now and in the future, we need your help to Support Our Services. Please text CHARLIESOS to 70085 to donate £5 (texts cost £5 + one standard network message). 

Motivated to make a larger donation? Click here to donate and remember to tell us in the comments if you would like to support our Big Build Appeal. 

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