Sensory Stimulation: Dosage

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At this point you have made very clear what kinds of daily and special opportunities the caregiver can provide for infant sensory experiences. Now stage for the trainees a condition where too much sensory stimulation is coming in for an adult’s or an infant’s comfort. Have available at TV set or s portable radio or phonograph with very loud rock music. Ask all the trainees but one to crowd near each other and to talk loudly with each other and across each other’s head. Also, turn on the tv, or radio, or phonograph loudly for a couple of minutes. Then, turn off the “noise” you have produced and ask each trainee just to talk to her neighbor in a normal voice. Wait a few moments. Now ask the trainee who was the silent one what she feels and what she had felt in the midst of so many sounds and sights of different people. The trainee who has been over-stimulated with noise and the press of people may describe more realistically to the group a frequent condition in low-income, overcrowded homes. She may express the feeling of withdrawing on the inside from all that confusion. She may describe her feeling of relief when voices and crowding diminished so that she could hear individual people, or understand the messages of incoming voices.

Infants may be bombarded by too much noise and too many people rushing around or having loud discussions. Later on, when he is older, the baby who has lived in an overcrowded, confusing, and noisy environment, may learn to behave in very noisy and overactive ways to produce his own stimulation where the surroundings provide little orderly input to him personally. He may act so that his very boisterous activities do count and are noticeable in the midst of much confusion in his home, even if he attracts negative attention. Have the trainees spend some time talking about how the day care center must not overdose an infant with stimulation. Can the trainees think of situation where too many kinds and parts of toys would surround a baby so that he might not explore the properties of any one toy thoroughly? Can they see how a caregiver talking at or stimulation a baby too long a time may also be overstimulation him herself? Explain to the trainees how important they will be as caregivers for monitoring the times and conditions under which babies get to know the world through all their senses.

Ask Dr. Susan