Friday, June 10, 2011

Fun and Learning for Children With Special Needs

DCM’s open-ended exhibits offer meaningful activities for people of all abilities, including a wide variety of sensory and therapeutic opportunities. In addition, we offer a range of adaptive equipment and materials for our visitors with special needs to help enhance their Museum experience. For example, a child experiencing challenges with verbal communication or processing, may benefit from our visual communication systems such as the Photo Book and Picture Sequences for Studio activities. One of our frequent visitors, Sara, has incorporated the Photo Book into her “Museum routine.” Her mother states that Sara finds comfort in simply checking out the Photo Book and using the photos even though she “no longer actually needs it” to communicate her wants. What a success!

For visitors accompanying a child with therapy needs, we offer our Therapeutic Play Guide. A collaborative effort, the guide was developed by a variety of therapists, and it provides recommendations for using many of our exhibits for therapeutic benefit. DCM’s exhibits include sensory and motor experiences, allowing children to explore, discover and experiment with color, light, texture, sound and movement. Additionally, exhibits offer ways to work on language development, social skills, purposeful play and more. Sheri, a physical therapist, shared that she frequently brings her clients to DCM for therapy sessions. “It’s very effective in getting kids to cooperate with therapy because it’s such a fun and stimulating environment. One of ‘my kids’ took her first steps [walked] at the Museum!”

Speaking of therapy, we also offer the unique experience of pet therapy. One of the most popular faces at DCM is Alex, a 2 ½ year old Sheltie who specializes in simply sitting still, being cute and pettable. Alex and his owner, Janet Hoff, volunteer at Third Thursday, 5 – 7pm, as well as the second and fourth Fridays of the month, 11am – noon, in our Family Resource Center.

Stay tuned for a post on adaptive equipment and the physical layout of the exhibits and Museum environment.

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