Sensory Integration: A New Kind of Therapy for Children

When you think of music and bright lights, you probably think dance floor, not health care! But a special program at the Kenny Rogers Children Center in Sikeston has these special effects, affecting the kids for the better! They're called sensory integration rooms. To children, they may look like playrooms with a lot of lights, but what they don't realize is the new rooms are helping them improve their speech, and motor skills.

It may just look like a mound of lights, but what these children call spaghetti is really a fiber optic waterfall, that helps them with their colors, counting, and visual cues. Molly Nirider, an occupational therapist at the center says, "We try to still incorporate the typical therapy but with the new equipment, they find more they can play with."

Four-year-old Brandon Smith is just one of the children enjoying the new sensory equipment at the Kenny Rogers Children Center. He's developmentally delayed, and like many of the children there, has trouble doing day to day activities. Nirider says, "Going upstairs sometimes bothers children, touching different objects, eating different things." The sensory equipment is basically therapy that helps children speak better and get around. The bubble columns help them learn about cause and effect, by pushing the buttons, and then seeing the different colors. The musical squares, another piece of equipment, helps them with their walking, and balance.

The sensory equipment also helps keep the children entertained, while therapists work with them. Chuck Martin, the center's director says, "With many of the kids we now serve, when therapy's over, they don't want to go home. It's not therapy to them, it's just a whole lot of fun." It's a great program at the Kenny Rogers Children's Center, and most of the money to pay for the sensory integration rooms came from the Kenny Rogers benefit concert last April.