Sensory Enrichment Training: Q&A with Bob Hillyer Part 2

Last week, I had the pleasure of sharing a great Q&A with Bob Hillyer, business development officer at Mendability. He explained how Mendability’s sensory enrichment therapy works and how these exercises are set up. Today, I’d like to share part 2 of our Q&A, where he talks about real success stories about Mendability and how parents can wade through all the information that’s out there, when they’re doing research for their children.


Are there any success stories that you can share?


We hear success stories almost every day. Parents tell us about children who have finally slept through the night, children who begin to say new words, or eat solid foods, or say “I love you” for the first time. It really makes it easy to stay motivated here!


One success story that is meaningful to me was with a young child who had a stroke in utero. It was so sad because she lost almost all of the left hemisphere of her brain and suffered from the effects, not only of paralysis on her right side, but also many other symptomsI will never forget the email from her mom the day she let me know that this girl had used her right hand to play with her tablet. I was so pleased with her progress and improvements.


Another one was a parent who called in and was not sure about trying this therapy with her adult child. She was worried that her adult child would not be able to leave home and live on her own. This mother’s concern was that it might be too late to see any progress in an adult. As we worked through her concerns, she decided to sign up. Ten months later, she was so pleased that her daughter was now functioning to a point where she could attend college, get a job, live on her own, and be safe and smart about her own life.


There are literally hundreds of stories that can be told, but the one that really matters is when that child is your own.


Do you have advice for parents who are doing research on their kids, when there is so much information out there?


Selecting a therapy for your child, and chasing the information that is out there can be a challenge. There is a lot of conflicting information, inaccurate information, but at the same time, there is a lot of true information. Sometimes even good solutions have not had enough research to prove that they work. Sometimes “not proven to work” does not equate with “proven to not work”. However, you have to keep your wits about you, and I think it may be best to give more weight to options that have been tested in randomized controlled trials.


Not all scientific claims are created equal. You may need to dig past the words “proven” to see what is meant by that. It may mean the therapy ought to be effective because of related research. Sometimes what was researched is not actually the therapy itself.


A step above that is research that tests the therapy itself and shows that the therapy is more effective than doing nothing.  If the study shows the therapy group improved more than the control group, they can say “clinically proven” but it only has to be effective enough to say on average it is better.


More reliable is research where it measures how much more the therapy group improves compared to the control group. This allows you to see how effective the therapy is. But there is research that is more reliable than that. If there are multiple studies, replication of studies, and the studies include large groups, and the results still show how much improvement there is compared to other therapies, this is even better. This shows that the research has a foundation and reliably shows how effective the therapy is at reducing symptoms. That is the ideal. That is a missing puzzle piece from a lot of the information. So, the more reliable the information the better.


Thank you! Is there anything else you might want readers to know?


There are lots of therapies and lots of solutions. Everybody knows that ultimately it is the little daily routines that add up to the biggest differences. You know deep down that it is YOU who will make the biggest difference in your child’s life. Make sure with whatever you are doing, you are taking enough time every day to have a positive pleasant moment with your child. If that positive moment includes the right sensory enrichment done together, you may find even more to be grateful for.