Centre shows families multi-sensory environment benefits

22 November 2016 – A MULTI-SENSORY room at Hamilton’s McKenzie Centre provides an environment of stimulating activities and experiences to increase motivation, awareness and positive behaviours.

p1000830It is a well-used room, says centre director Trisha Benge. So much so that she’s working on a funding application to upgrade the optic fibres and bubble tube which take a hammering every day.

The room was first developed in 2000 and revamped in 2006 thanks to funding from the Alexandra Lodge Freemasons and various other community groups.

The purpose-built room was the creation of the Cook family who were parents of a child with special needs.

The room includes lighting effects, sensory activities, tactile experiences and cause and effect items.

It’s fair to say the classic Kiwi ingenuity and self-sufficiency culture is very much on show and Benge makes no apology for that.

“There’s nothing like a Number 8 wire approach and that’s probably because 75 per cent of our funding is through the government and the rest from the community. “So we do what we can with what we’ve got,” she says.

Using what you have is also important to show families they can create multi-sensory, stimulating environments and experiences during daily routines in their own home.

The multi-sensory room is just one of many tools the centre uses to help children under the age of 6 to reach their potential.

“At McKenzie Centre, we provide specialist early intervention for pre-school children who have special needs, and their families, throughout the greater Hamilton area. The centre brings together families, children, early intervention teachers, physio, occupational and speech language therapists and technology specialists to try to help the pre-schoolers reach their potential,” says Benge.

This article was first published in Altogether Autism Journal Issue 4, November 2016 read the latest edition.