It has been two years since the term Sensory Processing Disorder entered our lives. Adam’s pediatrician first broached the subject whilst Adam was being diagnosed with Autism. Although Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) cannot be officially diagnosed here in the UK as is it does not feature in the diagnostic manual, the disorder has a huge impact on Adam’s day to day life. There is no support available for SPD on the NHS. We had a name to explain Adam’s behaviour but no understanding of the condition. We were lost. We were lucky though. Through the Kid Blogger Network I had a selection of blogging friends in America and Canada that could offer us guidance. If it wasn’t for blogging we would not have been able to understand the condition.
Sensory Spectacle is on a mission to change that. Founded in 2014, Becky Lyddon set up Sensory Spectacle to raise understanding and awareness of Sensory Processing Disorder. She wanted to give people first hand experience of how Sensory Processing Disorder might feel and how it can impact on someone’s life. Becky holds workshops, events and conferences to parents, teachers, service providers, medical professions, employers and the general public to give them the opportunity to experience Sensory Processing Disorder.
I have been following Becky’s work for some time. She has written a range of guides that provide insight into the sensory classroom, the sensory dining room and transitions for older children. Becky also has a wide range of short videos to explain the different elements of Sensory Processing Disorder on Youtube.
I was therefore over the moon when I heard Sensory Spectacle would be running their Feel It workshop in Norwich. It is rare for training to be available in my home city. Our group consisted of parents, teachers, teaching assistants and service providers. We had a range of experience with children who have some form of Sensory Processing Disorder. Although I have read many books on the disorder, nothing beats attending a course where you can hear information and ask questions.
Sensory Processing Disorder is not an easy disorder to understand yet Becky explained it clearly and I learnt more about the disorder. The course covered:
* the importance of our senses
* what are our senses
* what Sensory Processing Disorder is and how to recognise SPD.
Through a series of activities we got to reflect on how difficult life with SPD can be. I don’t want to give too much away for those attending future courses but I now have a better appreciation as to what Adam contends with on a daily basis. We then got to explore two unique installations – Lola’s World and Being Ben.
Lola’s World is a series of mirrors that distorts your visual processing. It is based on a hyper visual processing difficulty. You get to view the world fragmented. For me, looking into Lola’s World was extremely painful. My brain couldn’t piece together what it was seeing. I just wanted to close my eyes to make the pain go away.
Being Ben is a square transparent box that is suspended. You place your head in the box for it to distort your auditory processing. Whilst in the box I was unable to filter out unnecessary noises. I could not focus on what Becky was saying to me. Noises that I knew to be far away were overwhelming. An airplane overhead sounded as if it was in the room yet I could barely hear someone speaking right next to me. This is what it feels like if you have a hyper auditory processing difficulty.
During the afternoon session we discussed ways to support sensory development. Becky got out a huge array of resources that can be used at home and at school to assist children. All of the resources were either everyday items found in the home or were cheap items purchased from PoundLand or Flying Tiger. Despite being a play activities blogger and a teacher I still discovered many useful activities that I can use with Adam.
The Feel It workshop was certainly different to workshops I have attended before. It was great to get first hand experience of what it is like to have difficulties with sensory processing. This has in turn enabled me to reflect on what Adam experiences. I came away with a better understanding of the condition as well as an action plan of additional ways to support Adam.
Sensory Spectacle has a range of workshops across the country. You can find more about Sensory Spectacle on their website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Disclaimer: I paid for myself to attend the course. I have not been asked to write this blog post or promote Sensory Spectacle. I wanted to highlight the course to other SPD parents.
Across the blog we have written a variety of posts on Sensory Processing Disorder.
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