University of Southern California
University of Southern California

Supporting & Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences

Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) is a comprehensive approach to ensuring multi-modal positive sensory exposures across hospitalization for high-risk infants in the NICU. The SENSE program provides education to engage families in providing developmentally appropriate positive sensory exposures to optimize outcomes for their infant(s). Topics of education include: medical terminology, fetal development in the final months of pregnancy, the sensory environment of the NICU, sensory development, reading infant cues, identifying readiness for sensory exposures, how to provide different sensory exposures, and a week-by-week guide on specific doses and timing of sensory exposures to ensure consistent and developmentally appropriate delivery of positive sensory experiences at each postmenstrual age. The sensory interventions are designed to be provided by parents, but the medical team and/or volunteers can also be engaged to ensure the sensory needs of each infant are met.

In addition to the education materials and week-by-week guide, log sheets for parents, the medical team, and volunteers are provided to track the positive sensory exposures that are implemented each week. Although specific doses of positive sensory exposures are identified in the guide, it can be individualized for each infant based on the preferences of the family and/or the medical status/tolerance of the infant. An assessment of sensory tolerance is also included in the SENSE program package. The weekly assessment, which can be conducted more often when needed, aims to ensure that the infant tolerates the week-by-week sensory exposures as described, and it also provides guidance on how to identify adaptations to sensory exposures when necessary. The assessment is designed to be conducted by a physical or occupational therapist with neonatal expertise or by another designated health care professional.

Description and Rationale

SENSE Program Development


Meet the Team and Copyright Information

SENSE Training

Are you interested in training on the SENSE program implementation? Learn more about upcoming training opportunities.


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Preview SENSE

Download a preview of the SENSE parent education materials.

Purchase SENSE

Purchase of the SENSE program also includes electronic access to allow the program materials to be downloaded and printed. Additionally, an electronic version of the parent education materials (MS PowerPoint format) containing embedded videos can be downloaded for use with families in your hospital. Parent education materials are provided for download in both English (SENSE II) and Spanish (SENSE).

Supporting & Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences (SENSE) program

Purchase additional SENSE materials

Preprinted parent education books are available for purchase, for those hospitals that have already purchased the program. These are not intended to be used without careful attention to safety and implementation, as contained in the implementation package received upon purchase of the SENSE program. Please verify that you or your hospital purchased the SENSE program in order to proceed with purchasing preprinted parent education materials.