The clinical effectiveness of a multisensory therapy on clients with developmental disability

Sally Chan, Maggie Yuen Fung, Wai Tong Chien, David Thompson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Many clients in Hong Kong with developmental disabilities stay in mental hospitals because of mental disorders and behavioural problems. There is a need to identify strategies that promote psychological well-being and reduce problem behaviours in this group of clients. This study evaluates the impact of multisensory therapy on participants' emotional state, level of relaxation, challenging behaviour, stereotypic self-stimulating behaviour (SSB) and adaptive behaviour (AB). Using an experimental design, 89 participants were recruited from a developmental disability unit in a hospital in Hong Kong and randomly assigned to either an experimental (n = 48) or a control group (n = 41). Multisensory therapy sessions (n = 36) were conducted with experimental group and activity sessions (n = 36) were conducted with controls for 12 weeks. Multisensory therapy promoted participants' positive emotions and relaxation. However, there was no evidence that multisensory therapy was superior to activity therapy in reducing aggressive behaviour and stereotypic self-stimulating behaviour or promoting adaptive behaviour. The key variables that influence clients' behaviours in the multisensory therapy may be related to the relationship with the carer, constant environment, relaxation and freedom from demands rather than sensory input. Multisensory therapy could be used to provide leisure and promote psychological well-being, rather than for reducing problem behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental disability
  • Evaluation
  • Multisensory environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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