BackgroundMulti-sensory storytelling (MSST) was developed to include persons with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities in storytelling culture. In order to increase the listeners' attention, MSST stories are individualised and use multiple sensory stimuli to support the verbal text. In order to determine the value of MSST, this study compared listeners' attention under two conditions: (1) being read MSST books and (2) being read regular stories.
MethodA non-randomised control study was executed in which the intervention group read MSST books (n=45) and a comparison group (n=31) read regular books. Books were read 10 times during a 5-week period. The 1st, 5th and 10th storytelling sessions were recorded on video in both groups, and the percentage of attention directed to the book and/or stimuli and to the storyteller was scored by a trained and independent rater. Two repeated measure analyses (with the storytelling condition as a between-subject factor and the three measurements as factor) were performed to determine the difference between the groups in terms of attention directed to the book/stimuli (first analysis) and storyteller (second analysis). A further analysis established whether the level of attention changed between the reading sessions and whether there was an interaction effect between the repetition of the book and the storytelling condition.
ResultsThe attention directed to the book and/or the stimuli was significantly higher in the MSST group than in the comparison group. No significant difference between the two groups was found in the attention directed to the storyteller. For MSST stories, most attention was observed during the fifth reading session, while for regular stories, the fifth session gained least attentiveness from the listener.
ConclusionThe persons with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities paid more attention to the book and/or stimuli in the MSST condition compared with the regular story telling group. Being more attentive towards the book and stimuli might give persons with PIMD the opportunity to apprehend the story and to be included in storytelling culture.