A study appeared online in Behavioral Neuroscience suggests that sensory exercises are beneficial for Autistic kids. UC Irvine neurobiologists found that children with autism showed significant improvement after six months of simple sensory exercises at home using everyday items such as scents, spoons and sponges. A treatment known as environmental enrichment led to notable gains in male subjects between the ages of 3 and 12.
The study co-authors Cynthia Woo and Michael Leon randomly assigned 28 boys to one of two groups, balanced for age and autism severity. For six months, both the groups participated in standard autism therapies. Only one of the groups had daily sensory enrichment exercises.
Parents of the subjects were given a kit containing household products to increase environmental stimulation, including essential-oil fragrances such as apple, lavender, lemon and vanilla. The boys smelled four of these scents a day and listened to classical music each evening. Moreover, twice-daily sessions of four to seven exercises was a part of the therapy involving different combinations of sensory stimuli - touch, temperature, sight and movement among them.
42 percent of the children in the enrichment group showed significant improvement in behaviours commonly affected by autism – pertaining to people, having typical emotional responses and listening - compared with 7 percent in the standard-care group.
The researchers are now conducting a second, larger randomized clinical trial that includes girls.
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