Accessible & Enjoyable
by Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
Sensory experiences are a part of everyday life. For children with sensory integration difficulties, the ordinary experience becomes frightening and overwhelming. There are seven senses that form the foundation of sensory integration: visual, auditory, touch, smell, taste, vestibular (input regarding the position of one’s head in space in pull of gravity), and proprioception (awareness of one’s body and movement in space).
The vestibular and proprioceptive systems work very closely together for one’s ability to develop many skills including attention and arousal, balance, and coordination. Sensory integration is the ability of a person to take in sensory information from their environment, process that information within their brain, and then respond to that information appropriately. The appropriate response may be a movement, emotional reaction, verbal response, or to ignore the information altogether. Although the actual organs of a particular sensory system may be functioning adequately, if there is difficulty with the processing of that information in brain, then the response to the information may be affected. Sensory integration is the foundation that allows for complex learning and behavior.
Quite often parents of children with sensory integration difficulties chose to not take their children to certain community-based venues because of how their child will respond. The child often has tantrums, exhibits screaming behaviors, runs off, or becomes aggressive, all because their sensory systems are overloaded. Occupational therapists at Believe It and Achieve It, LLC are trained to help these children and families integrate their sensory systems. “Through individualized sessions,” says owner Kimberly Lamke, “the therapist work to help make the child feel more comfortable, secure, and able to engage in all environments.” The idea behind occupational therapy and sensory integration is that specific therapeutic activities can help a child with sensory problems experience a “just right” of arousal and regulation. This can actually “rewire” the brain so that children can integrate and respond to sensory input. This can decrease anxiety, making them more confident, successful, and interactive within their community.
The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has been among the first in the Tampa Bay Community to develop accommodations and programming with the intent to make its venue more sensory friendly for those with developmental disabilities.
MOSI also provides “Distract Packs,” provided by C.A.R.D for guests at the Guest Services Desk in the lobby. “Distract Packs” are plastic bins full of sensory toys and activities for children who may need to have something to help them manage difficult situations. Additionally, labels have been placed on exhibits that may be loud or create an environment sensory guests may not enjoy.
To find out more about MOSI and their inclusion efforts, go to MOSI.org or call 813-987-6000.