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Multisensory therapy did not result in statistically or clinically important changes in behaviour in individuals with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and mental illness

Prepared by:

Ashleigh Haskins
Email: Haskins@optusnet.com.au

Date:

May 2006

Review Date:

May 2008

Clinical Question:

 Does multisensory therapy decrease the frequency of challenging behaviours in individuals with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and mental illness?

Clinical Scenario:

 Multisensory therapy, sometimes referred to as Snoezelen, involves using an environment that is designed to stimulate the senses through light, sound, touch and smell. Multisensory therapy is used for more than leisure, and is now used in assessment, directed therapy and teaching. Multisensory therapy is often assimilated into education curricula and used in speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The importance of sensory experiences to people with intellectual disabilities has been acknowledged and documented. It is reported that approximately 40% of individuals with intellectual disability are also diagnosed with a psychiatric illness; however the effectiveness of multisensory therapy in a population with a dual diagnosis is often not addressed. As developing a multisensory environment can be costly, it is important to ascertain whether multisensory therapy for individuals with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and mental illness is of clinical benefit, and is more than simply an enjoyable experience.

Clinical Bottom Line:

       

Multisensory therapy produced no clinically significant changes in the frequency of challenging, stereotypic self-stimulating or adaptive behaviours, or levels of relaxation, but produced a clinically important increase in mood post-intervention.

BB

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