Supporting a Sensory Lifestyle for People with SPD | Part 1 of 3

I started this blog because of the information and solace I found in other blogs, articles and social media groups. I thought that maybe if by sharing my experience, it might be helpful for another parent going through similar situations. 

Thanks to social media, I came across other fantastic resources. One of those resources was Sensory Spectacle. I started following them on Twitter and watching their YouTube videos. I had reached out to Sensory Spectacle, which is based in the UK, to let them know how much I appreciate their videos and that I would love to link to some of them in my blog. To my surprise, Becky, the founder, offered to write a piece for my blog. I am turning her piece into a 3 part weekend series that begins today!

Thank you to Becky and all those at Sensory Spectacle for sharing this information and all that you do for the SPD community. 

And now, here’s Becky Lyddon, founder of Sensory Spectacle. 

I never quite realized how much I relied on my senses until I started a role as a playworker in London in 2009. After graduating from a degree in Graphic Design I realized an office based job just wasn’t’ for me. So I started a job supporting children and young people in a shortbreaks setting (afterschool, holidays and weekends). I got to do loads of fun activities and go on many holidays taking the children to places they had never been before offering new experiences for them and respite for families.

Being in a management role, as well as supporting the children I also had a responsibility to ensure my staff were confident and competent in caring for the young people in all settings we went to.

Very quickly after being in this role I realized that we didn’t offer any training to help them understand why some children may respond in a particular way to their surroundings. I wanted to make sure we could understand and care for the children as best we could. Often it was hard for staff to recognize triggers or understand why a child may love constantly flickering water, for example. Alongside this we also had many experiences where the public would ask us why a child played in a certain way or even if we could stop a child from doing something in particular.

I wanted to create a better understanding and awareness of Sensory Processing Difficulties (SPD) so I went and studied a Masters in Art & Science, it was here that Sensory Spectacle began making immersive learning environments for everyone to gain a unique insight from and to spread a better understanding and awareness of SPD. Our work is created based on descriptions from people with SPD.

Have you ever wondered how it might feel to hear all of the sounds in your environment right now while you are trying to read this post? The lights buzzing, technology whirring, radiators creaking, wind blowing, leaves rustling, airplanes flying, cars driving, footsteps moving, clocks ticking, conversations next door.

We all process and respond to our surroundings in a personalized way. Sensory processing is something which we all have in common as human beings. From before we are born we are sensing, processing and responding to information received from our senses. Because sensory processing is a personalized system unique to ourselves it is likely that you will have similarities in sensory preferences with your friends and family members as well as differences. Food choices, music preferences, sports activities etc. All of these activities revolve back to sensory processing and we build up these preferences throughout our life.

However for some people, organizing and responding to the sensory messages can be extremely confusing. Some children may cover their ears as they can be overwhelmed with the sounds around them. Or maybe you know someone who only has a diet of dry crunchy foods to help block out the sounds around them.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is when the brain finds it difficult to organize the messages it’s receiving and respond to them. Some people may respond to these sensations actively or passively. SPD impacts 1 in 20 and we must remember that this is throughout someone’s life so children and adults will experience difficulties processing sensory information. As children with SPD get older they are likely to find ways in which they support their own sensory needs in order to help regulate
their bodies.

We must try to understand what these sensory responses and characteristics mean so that then we can support personal needs. You can learn loads more about this in our workshops.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of Becky’s piece on Sensory Processing and don’t forget to check out Sensory Spectacle at http://www.sensoryspectacle.co.uk/!
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