The Sensory Park

Center for autism Rijeka

The Sensory Park for our smiles

The Sensory Park for our smile that we began building in the Center’s yard is a park which with its form, materials and equipment satisfies the needs of persons with sensory difficulties. Sensory difficulties are difficulties that manifest on the sensory path from the stimuli that enters the organism through visual (sight), tactile (touch), auditory (hearing), olfactory (smell), gustative (taste), proprioceptive (awareness of one’s own body, its parts and position in space) or vestibular  (movement and balance) systems to these stimuli being processed in the brain (processing) and then to providing the body parts with answers on how to react (behavior). In 80% of cases

autism is accompanied with sensory difficulties, therefore most persons with autism also have pronounced sensory system disturbances. The most recent research confirms that every 60thnewborn child is born with autism, and there are more and more children that have pronounced sensory difficulties only, but with time these children, because of inappropriate surroundings (sounds that are too loud or too soft, smells, colors, light, touch of various materials, etc.) close up into their own world and seem like children with autism. All children without difficulties develop their sensory system in parks, on swings, on slides, etc. In these children the sensory

system keeps developing up to the ages of 7-9 when they are ready for more and more intellectual learning, and less for play in parks. For a person with sensory difficulties playing in sensory parks needs to be therapy, no matter their age. Expert guidance of games and activities in such parks are the only way to improve general functioning. The fundamental goal of building, using the sensory park and this therapy is “the smile on the faces of children and older persons with autism and sensory difficulties”, in a way that, during and after carrying out sensory therapy, will lead to:

1. improved communication with surroundings
2. developing capabilities to learn
3. developing socialization (the need to socialize)
4. reducing stereotypical behavior (swaying, jumping, laying on the floor, spinning and others)
5. reducing or eliminating aggressive, self-aggressive and undesirable patterns of behavior (breaking things, furniture, glass and such)
6. developing of a positive image of oneself (satisfaction with one self)
7. becoming aware, recognizing and naming the present emotional state and correctly reacting to it
8. … and to all that is normal to us “people without sensory difficulties” such as sitting in the movie theater and watching a movie, going to a restaurant and waiting for a meal, going to the supermarket and waiting in line at the cash register, being in places where many people gather and all such similar activities