Author Identifier

John O'Rourke

ORCID : 0000-0003-3074-9154

Susan Main

ORCID : 0000-0002-5955-4222

Christina Gray

ORCID : 0000-0001-8464-1961

Christine Lovering

ORCID : 0000-0002-2209-9289

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education


Cambridge University Press


School of Education




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2021

Sensorium Theatre Inc


O’Rourke, J., Main, S., Gray, C., & Lovering, C. (2021). Observations of children with disability during arts-based multisensory story and rhyme activities: Is it all just chimes and perfumes?. Australasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education, 45(2), 237-251.


It is generally acknowledged that alternative strategies are required to enable children with disability to access storytelling activities. In this study, we sought to analyse the benefits of one such strategy: an arts-based multisensory story and rhyme program delivered to children with Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. In order to determine the engagement and impact of the program on the participants, data were collected through a series of multisensory session observations, focus group interviews with parents of participants, and interviews with performing artists delivering the program. The findings of this study revealed multiple benefits of using sensory stimuli to engage children with disability in storytelling processes, including increased engagement, focus, and interaction with other children and family members. The performing artists used their knowledge and skills to create an engaging environment that was responsive to the children’s needs. It was observed that language development could be further enhanced by integrating written text into the performance and increasing the use of nonverbal communication methods. Further, the engagement of siblings without disability in this program suggested that it could be developed to be inclusive of children with and without disability.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.