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Basal stimulation 

General overview

Basal stimulation is an approach to help people with severe disabilities. It is at the crossroads of care, educational and therapeutic action. 

Basal stimulation®, developed by Andréas Fröhlich in the 1970s, is an approach that tries to understand the disabled person in his or her different way of being. 

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Main objectives of the method
  • The aim of this method is to help people in situations of high dependency by listening more and involving them in the care and displacement process, in order to generate a sense of security and improve their quality of life. 

  • By offering simple, clear and structured sensory experiences, it becomes possible to create the basic connections necessary for more complex developments. 

Specificities of the method
  • The method is based on stable primary experiments: 
    somatic: feeling one's body and body envelope through touch.
    vestibular: feeling one's body through movement
    vibratory: to feel one's body in depth, stability, the "bone self".

  • Basal stimulation® interventions can be described as individually adapted communication, movement and perception activities that can be integrated into all areas of a person's life. 

  • It is not a question of proposing stereotyped activities but of evaluating the individual situation, respecting the availability and rhythm of the person, in order to find favourable conditions that allow the person with multiple disabilities to feel the desire to live meaningful experiences through his or her own body and in contact with the outside world. 

  • The aim is to integrate this approach into daily activities. Dressing, undressing, meals, changes of position, participation in daily tasks and other activities offer possibilité́ a "basal" pedagogical work. 

Who is this method for ?

Initially, this approach was developed exclusively for children with multiple disabilities, most of whom are severely disabled, and was later adapted for the adolescent and adult with multiple disabilities.

What parents say about it

Concetta PAGANO - specialized educator, certified trainer in basal stimulation. 
"I will take the example of a little boy M, aged 9. He arrived at the institution at the age of 3. The origin of his polyhandicap is a convulsive encephalopathy of unknown origin. He was presented to the team as a child without verbal language, visually impaired, hard of hearing, with severely reduced voluntary motor skills, severe epilepsy, neurological disorders and significant respiratory problems. 

Dependency in the multi-handicapped person becomes a state and no longer a dynamic relationship where everyone exchanges and receives. The person with multiple disabilities then sometimes becomes an object of care rather than the subject of our care. 

Daily grooming was a difficult moment for Mr. He cried or moaned almost all the time, his breathing was panting, his body shivered, each change of position accentuated his crying. As for the person taking care of him, he spoke little to him, gave very little verbal information about what was going to happen and even less sensory information. They undressed him too quickly, soaped him in a very "disorderly" way, moving from one part of the body to another, turning him left and right in a jerky manner. 

Once a week, I suggested a "basal" toilet in order to approach this moment in a different way for M and to make him experience the toilet as a positive experience. 

At first we used towels to cover his chest and legs. The water jet started from the top of the bust and went all the way to the feet in a rhythmic and ritualized way. From the first basal toilet, Mr... had a completely different behaviour, the crying faded as the toilet went on. As the weeks went by, washing became a pleasant moment: by ritualising the beginning of the washing by undressing accompanied by a song (Creole), by verbalising everything that was going to happen and by associating touch to each part of the body that was mobilised, moved, stimulated, by accustoming the changes of position in a progressive way in order to give him time to integrate and perceive these changes. Today, he no longer experiences washing as a negative experience".

Scientific references
  • "L'apport du toucher à travers l'accompagnement de la personne polyhandicapée", dissertation written by Alizée Mailharrin 

  • This clinical presentation shows how much touch allows the child to invest in his or her body. Demonstrates that psychomotor touch is therapeutic.

Any remarks or comments ?

This work is based on a collaborative approach to sharing research and family experience.

If you have any comments, suggestions for modifications or corrections or clarifications to make, please let us know by email at

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