I am not sure at what point, if there is a point, our son The Sensory Seeker started to have Sensory Processing Disorder. I am not sure if anything caused or triggered it or if it is something that has just always been there. But I thought I would try to share some of his early experiences to see if anyone can identify with it – and just so you can get to know him better.
The Birth of The Sensory Seeker
The Sensory Seeker was born at 35 weeks Gestation with just gas and air using Wrigley’s forceps and a whooping 7lb 1 oz. He was also rather long and I believe that the hospital just thought that the dates were wrong. I had had contractions from around 31 weeks but told to get bed rest. I have a needle phobia so at no point did I have the steroid injections. I was also breast feeding my toddler and once this happened I had to try to really limit his feeds. In fact it was the middle of the night when he came in for a feed that my waters started to break. First a trickle but then there was no doubt as they poured out. We went to the hospital and The Sensory Seeker was born a few short hours later. Born at five thirty in the evening we were both discharged from the hospital the next morning.
The Sensory Seeker’s Weight Loss
At home The Sensory Seeker was feeding fine, but was very sleepy. I had been given no information on him coming before the 37 week full-time dates and felt that something was not right. By day 3 when the midwife came to check that he hadn’t lost more than 10% of his birth 3 he’d actually lost 13% (down to 6lb 3ozs) and we had to go straight back to the hospital. Despite constant badgering to formula feed my son I expressed my milk and fed him by first syringe and then cup – which meant I had very little sleep. We did get sent home at one point but it wasn’t long before the weight gain wasn’t satisfactory enough we were sent back in. He was put on the Billy bed (UV light) and was treated for jaundice. His blood sugar levels weren’t right either but they were the opposite way they were checking for so apparently it was ok, I later learnt that his blood sugar levels were an indication of an infection but everyone was too hung up on the fact that I was tandem feeding.
His weight continued to stay low and his jaundice worsened so they added a top to the billy bed which meant that he had to have his eyes covered. It was really hard not to just be able to cuddle my sick baby too, with the only time I was able to touch him was when he was feeding – this was every 3 hours by cup. He made a tiny bit of progress and was able to move to first a normal cot, and then a side-cot attached to my bed. The whole time I was still expressing, cup feeding and feeding my other son when he came to visit. His bilirubin levels then reached an acceptable level and we were able to go back home.
The Sensory Seeker’s Infection
And then it happened. One day when he was 3 weeks old and I went to change his nappy there was just this awful puss oozing out of his belly!! Luckily there was a clinic running across the road and the midwife saw us straight away who said to take him straight to the hospital. No-one really said anything to me but a cannula was put into my tiny baby’s arm immediately – and he was pumped up with 3 different types of antibiotics. We were sent to another hospital and there he continued the IV antibiotics and returned back to his birth weight at last. His weight has been fine ever since.
I am not sure if these early experiences have been the cause of his sensory issues or whether he would have had them anyway. But I do think it shows that from the off he has always been a fighter. A strong little man.
Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax is a fantastic story and what a wonderful way to experience it than with live performance. Parents of children with special needs will understand that this isn’t always that easy so it is wonderful that more and more theatres are putting on relaxed performances to make it more of a possibility.
The Mousetrap Theatre Projects Relaxed Performance of
Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax on Sunday 5th November 2017
The Old Vic, London, SE1 8NB
About Mousetrap Theatre Project’s Relaxed Performances
Mousetrap Theatre Project’s Relaxed Performances are exceptional which I think is reflected in the fact that Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax has already sold out! The Relaxed Performances ensure that families with children with special needs receive the best support possible to make their experience as inclusive as possible. They are designed with a more relaxed environment in mind especially for those with autism, learning difficulties or other sensory and communication needs. There are less rules (like having to sit and be quiet), adjusted sound and lighting, trained volunteers and supportive staff, plus resources to help prepare for the visit. A maximum of 6 tickets per application.
About Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax
‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees!’
The irrepressible, big-hearted, moustachioed critter is back. Following rave reviews and an Olivier nomination for Best Entertainment and Family show. This dazzlingly funny, moving and inspiring show sees the go-getting Once-ler come face to face with the magical Lorax in a battle over the beloved truffula trees and the whole of Paradise Valley. Adapted for the stage by David Greig with music and lyrics by Charlie Fink, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax is a brilliant riot of eye-popping colour, gorgeous puppetry and infectious music to enchant adults and children alike.
Ticket prices range from £2.50 for a child up to £20 for an adult.
This showing has a limited amount of wheelchair spaces.
Suitable for ages six and over.
Running Time (including interval) 135 minutes.
This is a sell-out show but you can still be added to the waiting list.
The magical dance show The Little Match Girl returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio this December, retelling Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless fable about the kindness of helping others.
This relaxed performance is a less formal theatre experience for those who may be on the autistic spectrum, or have additional sensory and communications needs, or just prefer a less formal theatre setting, offering them a supportive environment to enjoy the show in. To create this environment, performances are adapted in a number of ways including and therefore Relaxed Performance will have:
An altered performance
Lower lighting but house lights remaining on throughout the performance
wheelchair spaces (please note these have all sold out for this performance)
A designated chill out area available to use throughout the performance
Visual Story and Story Board available before the performance by e-mail when booking
For information on what to expect when you visit, click here to watch their film.
A visual story will be emailed to bookers closer to the time.
Show duration: 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Please note, there is limited wheelchair spaces for this performance.
To book, call the ticket office on 020 7863 8000 or click here to book online.
Join the Access Scheme to keep up to date with what’s on at Sadler’s Wells in a format that suits you. If you are in receipt of disability-related state benefits, you may also be entitled to a reduction on the cost of your ticket. Reduced price tickets are limited to one per booking per production.
If you require further information and/or disability related assistance please contact:
Sadler’s Wells, the Lilian Baylis Studio and the Peacock Theatre are all inside the congestion charge zone. If you want to drive in the congestion charge zone between 7am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday, excluding Public Holidays, you will have to pay the £11.50 charge. There are some exemptions and discounts. For more information and to find out how to pay, visit Transport for London. Sadler’s Wells is just inside the zone, depending where you are coming from it is possible to park outside the zone with a short walk to the theatre – this is not so easy at the Peacock Theatre. The nearest car park to Sadler’s Wells outside the congestion charge zone is in Parkfield Street, off Liverpool Road.
On-street free parking in Hardwick Street and other streets off Rosebery Avenue after 6.30pm Mon-Fri and from 1.30pm on Saturdays (heavy fines apply to parking in residents? bays). There is a large 24 hour car park in nearby Bowling Green Lane.
There are 15 spaces in the Sadler’s Wells car park at the rear of the theatre off Arlington Way (postcode: EC1R 1XA) for anyone in your party who is over 65, a member of our Access scheme or a Blue Badge holder. These cost £5.00 for the over 65s and are free of charge to Access members and Blue Badge holders. To reserve a place, please contact the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000.
When it comes to being a parent of children with additional needs I guess you notice things more. I am no way in saying that you become an expert in the condition but I personally think it becomes more likely you will spot others who you believe are the same. Sometimes this insight is welcome but other times it is best to keep these opinions to yourself – dependent on which of the parent types that the child has.
Different Parent Types of Children with Additional Needs
I believe there are basically four types of parent when it comes to children with additional needs and they are:
Parent Types 1 – The Fighters
These are parents who recognise that something is not quite right and fight tooth and nail to discover what it is and access all the help they can for their children.
Parent Types 2 – The Accepter
These parents realise that their children might not be quite the same as others but just accept things how they are. They probably do not even want a diagnosis for their child as they just see it as an unnecessary label which isn’t particularly helpful.
Parent Types 3 – The Lunatics
These parents are nuts – they think that their children need to be cured and do stupid things such as force them to drink bleach. They genuinely believe that their children will be better off if they can get rid of their additional needs.
Parent Types 4 – The Deniers
These parents are walking around with blinkers on and will just not accept that their children would benefit from additional help. These parents ignore their children’s behaviour or make excuses for it. Some may think that there is something wrong with having a child with additional needs (which quite clearly could never happen with a child of theirs) – whilst others just do not think that this is the case (even when there are so many obvious signs to others).
Changes for Schools that make it Easier to Help Children Regardless of Parent Types
Previously the parent types of a child mattered when it came to a child having additional needs and fighting for the right support in school. I have previously written about whose responsibility is it to ensure that it is identified and put in place. But that is now changing from what I can gather.Well from what I can gather now schools have more control in helping all children – especially those with type 4 parents who are not going to help the school access the funding that they need. From what I can gather any additional money which is given to the school due to The Sensory Seeker’s EHCP does not have to be spent solely on my child. That as long as whatever it is the money is spent on helps him then there’s no reason why other children cannot benefit from it also. I haven’t thought too much into it – but maybe if they built a sensory room – or got in sensory toys or ear defenders – this sort of thing can be shared. Maybe I have got this wrong and I don’t think it is unreasonable – just annoying that type 4 parents aren’t able to help with helping the schools to access this funding in the first place.
Do you agree with these parent types? Can you think of any others? Do you identify with any?
Honestly whose responsibility is it for making sure that every child receives a fair education? As it seems to me that the quality of education falls down to the parents. Of course this could be a whole topic of private vs public and grammar schools but I am in this instance talking about the rights of the child with additional needs.From the off there seems to be a divide for children between parents who recognise and fight for their children’s educational rights (and get them an EHCP) and those who do not know what they are doing, or are less willing or capable to fight. Shouldn’t training be provided to ensure that early identification is made for all children who need to access the additional help? Too many hoops have to be jumped through to prove it isn’t just bad parenting before actually getting anywhere when you are prepared to fight – so no wonder people give in – is it fair on those other children? Children who may eventually be caught by the system – but how late and at what cost to their education? But even after identification the battle does not end there. With meetings and appointments which usually relies on the parent educating those being paid to help on their child’s condition. Having to read up every piece of information they can and fight to have the right support in place.
Maybe this doesn’t happen as often as I think – perhaps we are the unlucky ones. Personally I feel The Sensory Seeker is very lucky in that I am able to best support him – but what about children who don’t have that? My renewed annoyance comes from the annual EHCP review.
From the off I felt patronised as the SENCO kindly explained how it was the first EHCP annual review (because let’s be honest it was SO different from a statement review right?). Then I had to go through and correct any errors – you know like making sure they had identified the right child which includes the right date of birth! Okay I am being harsh now that was such a little slip right. But then we came to the part about the family’s views – the work I had put in before the meeting – and the SENCO had no idea what I meant when describing the sensory needs. In fact she was quite sure that he didn’t have any!!!! Deciding that I would just deal with his meltdowns at home as he apparently was coping in school I almost just let her remove them from the EHCP – I mean what would I know about Sensory Processing Disorder compared to the trained SENCO? But as luck would have it his class teacher popped in and agreed that yes he did have sensory needs and straight away was able to give an example (you can read more about that meeting in the post about them not wanting him to be different).
I was advised that the SENCO would send me a draft copy to approve before she sent it off. But that never materialised. What did come was a letter saying that it had been received and that my draft copy would arrive shortly. Of course that arrived giving me 15 days from when the letter was written and not received to make any changes. IN THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS! I kid you not – I have no-one to go to for advice, I am pretty sure the SENCO is not in school and I have 4 children (3 of whom have additional needs) at home with changes they don’t adjust to and now I need time for this! But surely you think I just need to read it through and agree with it – because I already sat through the meeting and discussed and agreed things – right? Wrong big fat wrong. There are so many unbelievable errors in this draft it is untrue. Including matters such as who his key worker is and even what school he goes to! Never mind moving on through the report. Somehow I am going to have to find some time to go through it all. And then what – do they just accept my corrections? Doesn’t the SENCO actually have to do that? Or does she get a draft copy of my amendments and have to approve them – meaning that it isn’t actually all sorted for September? I am sure in The Sensory Seeker’s case it doesn’t matter as he already has one but what about those children sorting out one for the first time?
I know I may come across as angry at the SENCO but I am not. She is a lovely lady and am sure she is trying her best. It is the system that is letting these children down and parents who are already under a lot of pressure are just further feeling the strain.
The eleven plus and special educational needs can be a bit of a minefield. With our oldest he should have got into a certain school but on the day did not do as well on the eleven plus tests as we expected for his capabilities. He had no provisions made for his Asperger’s Syndrome (I have since heard of others having a separate room and longer time), not even to become more familiar with the building. But he was always a very able child and “grammar school material” and we knew that the eleven plus would put no added pressure on him. But the time is getting closer that The Sensory Seeker needs to think about high school and he assumes that he will take the eleven plus following in the footsteps of (what will be) all three of his older brothers. The trouble is he has a Global Developmental Delay and his Sensory Processing Disorder also makes it harder to learn new things. So the question is what to do?Annie Spratt
Do we let our son with Special Needs take the Eleven Plus?
Do we let The Sensory Seeker sit the eleven plus tests, in an environment that is most likely going to be difficult for him, so that we have given him the chance and opportunity just like all our other sons? Or do we make the decision that the test/school would not be suitable for him. Which will knock his confidence more – trying and not succeeding, or not been given a chance in the first place? I mean he is a bright lad and he may even surprise us! He has a few years to go yet and may even close the gap and catch up with his peers. He works so hard. Or when the time gets closer he may just be happy to move up to the local comprehensive school – which he is familiar with because of after school activities and will know lots of people there/going up. Oh how it would be wonderful if they never had to grow up!
Of course I have been suggested another option of paying for him to be tutored (which I haven’t done with any of my other sons), but then I really would be worried that the work would be too hard once he passed the eleven plus entrance exam. That then he’d end up switching schools anyway and then find it even harder to settle as the new boy. Other people have suggested this would be just filling the gaps in his knowledge where the education system has failed him.
Has anyone else been through anything similar? Any thoughts please?
Inclusion what do schools think that means? I recently went to The Sensory Seeker’s annual review of his EHCP to find out that his school means that they don’t want him to be different. I guess it is a feeling of once again coming back to rubbish parenting really, as it sounded like that the only thing causing any problems is him being treated in a way not like the others! They said that even with a one-to-one teacher he hasn’t made “extra” progress (just in-line with his peers) and that actually he needs to be encouraged to be more “independent.”
They did not seem to even understand Sensory Processing Disorder (which unfortunately is not a diagnosed condition in the UK) so it is no wonder that they don’t “get” that his one-to-one helps The Sensory Seeker deal with sensory input that may distract him and need his focus brought back. In fact the SENCO and his teaching assistant didn’t seem to think he had ANY sensory needs at school – which I found really surprising. They were thinking about just taking that section out of his EHCP all together. I thought that there was no point in arguing with them after I tried to explain some of his difficulties, because they just said it did not happen. Or well, that time he was hugging someone else all the time was okay because that person wanted him to do it. Of course the good old social stories came up – as obviously if he understood that he couldn’t just go around touching people then that tactile need will just disappear!
His EHCP actually has good guidance in it about his Sensory Issues from the Occupational Therapist, but because they discharged us they no longer come to the meetings. I can’t even really get her involved whilst the school are saying there aren’t any issues either! Luckily his class teacher was able to quickly pop in to the meeting at the time we were just about to move on to the next bit of the EHCP. She was then asked about The Sensory Seeker’s sensory issues (in a tone that he did not have any). But, thankfully, straight away she said that yes he clearly did and came up with an example straight away. In fact, ironically, it was to do with their sensory time where a few children go off to practice writing. She said that music was played to help them feel calm – but actually it stopped The Sensory Seeker from concentrating. That he was able to let her know it was a problem. The SENCO again was immediately in the frame of mind of not wanting him to be “different” so asked what the teacher did to resolve it. The teacher explained that they just turned the music off! That they didn’t *need* it. It is a shame that next year not only isn’t she his class teacher but she is leaving to go on to another school.
We will have to see how things go in year 4 because I am concerned that they are just knocking his confidence by ignoring his sensory needs and treating him no differently – such as setting him the same homework as the others for example. And then when it is not complete (because he has struggled with it so much, or not in the right sensory frame when he has come home) he is then punished (like the other children) by missing break times. I fear that this will then further impact his social skills and relations with his peers -especially as he becomes more aware of things such as being the only child not invited to parties. They have also mixed up the children in his year group and this change has already upset him. Unfortunately he was sick and missed move up day too – so we shall have to see how it goes. It isn’t all bad however, and I am not blaming the school it is because the knowledge just isn’t there. Things I mentioned (such as his inability to use a dictionary as he does not know the alphabet) they tried to help straight away. He seems to have a good relationship with his TA and in our opinion has helped him come on leaps and bounds.
I really do hate the school run because it means interacting with people. When I come home I am actually drained to the point where I have to sleep. I have even started taking antidepressants and fighting off the need to recuperate until the afternoon. But it is no good I can only reset myself with sleep. Then I have to do the school run again. I was put on these tablets fourteen months previously when I went to ask the doctors about a referral for seeing whether I have Asperger’s Syndrome. He told me it didn’t matter and that I could tell people I have if I liked – and wrote out the prescription. Ever since I have just been taking the tablets and paying for repeats. But still nothing is easier.
This morning on the school run a random man who works for the council called me a bully. I asked him what he meant and he laughed and said I had stolen my son’s scooter. I told him it was mine. My son was on his own scooter and mine (adult size too) has flowers on. I don’t get it – was he trying to tell a joke? People always have to comment on my scooter – there’s always something. But it isn’t just my scooter – it’s my clothes and other things too. I get hot really easily and hate to overheat. I was wearing shorts the other day when the sky was grey but it was still really warm. Again always said in this “jokey” way was whether my weather app was wrong! I am sure it was a joke but I can’t help it I just feel the need to explain that I get hot and can’t cope.
The doctor said that it was unlikely I was on the spectrum because I was aware that people treat me this way. That I want to fit in. He said I just haven’t had the right role models – teaching me how I am meant to behave in certain situations. But I thought that social skills were meant to come naturally? He said I could make a list. But I have no energy all the time. Surely someone should just be able to assess me and see. Why does it always have to be proven? I have begun to accept myself whether I have or haven’t got Asperger’s. Explaining to people that I don’t always say the right thing, or do the wrong thing or even get what is expected of me. It is up to them how they behave back towards me then. I do not know what more I can do.
Ginny Moon is a teenager with autism who was taken away from her mother when she was just nine years old. In the story Ginny is thirteen years old and in her fourth foster family (which she calls Forever homes). Finally she has found a family that loves her but is that all about to change now that her Forever Mom and Forever Dad are having their own baby?
The Original Ginny Moon really is a story that will keep you wanting to read more as you get to know Ginny and all her ways. You will be hard not to fall in love with Ginny and be proud of her. The Original Ginny Moon really is a story that will keep you wanting to read more as you get to know Ginny and all her ways. Feeling sad when she feels she doesn’t belong (-Ginny) and understanding the difficulties she faces living with autistic spectrum disorder – that sometimes make her just too much for other people to be able to handle.
Ginny likes numbers and they help her make sense of the world. The book is written in diary format telling is either approximately or exactly what the date and time is for each entry. Ginny starts each day with exactly 9 grapes, loves Michael Jackson, can only answer one question at a time and always has green eyes. Ginny is 13 years old but turns 14 during the course of the book, and in that time we come to see that Ginny has overcome so much and means well.
Ginny struggles to communicate why she needs to escape from the Blue House (her forever home with Brian and Maura) to go back to Gloria (her biological mother) where it was such an abusive and unsafe environment for her. Ginny tries to explain to everyone that is to make sure her Baby Doll is safe (as she left it in the suitcase before she was taken), but no-one seems to take her seriously.
Benjamin Ludwig has written this beautifully narrated as Ginny – letting us clearly see what is inside her head and the reasons why she behaves in the way that she does. She clearly explains what things mean – which are mostly based on what she has learned from what other people have told her. But she is still confused by other things – that as a reader we know she hasn’t got right. Other times you realise that you have made the wrong assumption that she hasn’t got it right – and that even you have got Ginny wrong – just like everyone else!
I think this book is great to understand the mind of a teenager with autism, the fostering process and its difficulties and anyone who just wants a good book to read. Plus it gives a clear message about how not everyone is able to self-advocate and make their voices heard and their needs known. The short diary entries make this an easy to read and fast paced book – but even though you can read it in small bites – I am not sure it is something you will really want to put down.
I had a proof copy of The Original Ginny Moon for purposes of review – and honestly it is that good, opinions are honest and my own (although I am sure A LOT of people agree with them too).
Sensory Processing Disorder in Italy was always going to be a bit different than at home but The Sensory Seeker coped amazingly well during our stay.Of course there were times when he just didn’t cope, but there are some things I think made it easier for him and other things that I wish I had known before we left for Italy, that would have made things better for all of us. The main thing for us was to just make allowances: Letting him sleep in bed with us some nights whilst we were in Italy for example. Obviously every individual with Sensory Processing Disorder is different but hopefully some of this will help if you are planning on travelling to Italy.
Flying with Sensory Processing Disorder – What we learnt on our travels to Italy
So our flight to Italy was the first time we had taken the boys on a plane. The hardest part was the fact that the electrical devices need to have battery to go through security so the boys were unable to play with their iPods and 3DSs until we then and we weren’t prepared to risk them having them confiscated. In hindsight I wish we had taken the in-car DVD players – these could have been used in the car and again once we were at the resort (as there was no television) and they could have been packed in the hold. You should take into consideration the time of the flight – would it be easier if it was at a time when the child will be likely to sleep (remember this could be delayed and they could be overtired in the airport). Luckily our flight to Italy wasn’t a long one (or shouldn’t have been before all the delays). We did not take advantage of the flight’s special assistance but this means that we could have had priority boarding so that it was not as chaotic and noisy when he went on the plane. Saying that in Gatwick Airport we went through Family Security and this was much less of a wait and felt less intimidating than other security checks I have previously been through.
Tips for flying to Italy with a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder
Obviously have some entertainment that does not involve plugging in – a book, crayons, LEGO etc.
Give them a lollipop for take-off – this will help with their ears as well as giving them something to distract themselves with.
Decide whether you think they would be better with a window seat or not, if they need extra room, or easy access to the toilet when booking your seats.
Carry a charger (and adapter plug) with you – all the trains have somewhere to charge your devices and in Pisa airport there was free charging (with a lighting cable).
Of course let them know what is happening and what to expect in advance. The Sensory Seeker was selected through security and had to take his shoes off. I think because we had talked about everything with him it made it much easier. Speaking of explaining things we were delayed by 2 and a half hours on the way there and 3 hours on the way back – although we were past security and the electrical devices were able to be utilised (and charged) so this wasn’t a problem for us.
We took special things – a travel cushion, a soft throw and his favourite teddy.
Things to consider in Italy with Sensory Processing Disorder
I think it is good to discuss things that are not quite the same – such as crossing the road. We discovered that just because you are crossing the road on black and white lines does not mean that the drivers have to stop! Here are some tips from our visit:
Plan where you are going and figure out where the toilets are. Book in advanced where possible (on the train this also means you do not have to validate your ticket before getting on). This can not only save you money but time too – some of the queues are actually really hideous. Find out which places are busy and which are quieter. You have to pay for toilets, so carry plenty of euros and 50 cents with you. I wish we had put on a map where they were located too.
AttractionTix offer a range of discounted and beat the queue attraction offers: We chose to review the Rome Hop on Hop off Cruise. As there was a bar and toilet on board it meant that we could literally hop on if The Sensory Seeker needed the toilet desperately without having to worry about where to find one. Getting on and off the cruise was straight forward and simple and The Sensory Seeker loved the narrative about the area as we went round. Particularly when we were near where Romulus and Remus were left in a basket on the Tiber River as babies (which he had learned about in school). It also allowed him to sit and calm down as we were taken around closer to the next major attraction we wished to visit. Children under 10 years old are also free! Just be careful when going upstairs as if they are too seeking they could end up going overboard.
Be aware of the street sellers. One guy came and put necklaces on the boys for “free” and tied a piece of string around my arm even though I kept telling him no. They he was quite forceful saying he needed money for food. My husband gave him back the necklaces and we gave a euro for the string as I couldn’t get it off – he was still trying to get money out of us, but my husband was quite verbally forceful back. This experience was unpleasant for all of us but particularly The Sensory Seeker. They seemed to be where the tourist attractions are most. Try to avoid eye contact and do not get into conversation with them.
Italians do not eat at the same time as us here in the UK. At 5pm we found that they had not long closed up from lunch and could not get dinner. Supermarkets we personally fund difficult to locate and a sandwich meal deal cost us almost as much as eating out in a restaurant!
Checkout the weather – we went in April and it was warm enough for us with just a bit of rain but did get really chilly on some nights. The mornings start out really bright though – but most places had wooden blinds blacking it out.
The sirens sound different in Italy – maybe listen on YouTube before you go so it is not so startling. Or use the headphones/ear-defenders.
Tips for sight-seeing in Italy with Sensory Processing disorder
First of all have a clear plan so that they know what to expect and when. Try to let them have input into what goes into this. For example if they just want to go swimming maybe you could incorporate that into the afternoon or evening for them.
Give them opportunities to allow them to do what they need with their bodies – run, spin, swim etc. Parks are good for this (and obviously swimming pools).
Ensure you plan in some quiet areas to take a break from noise/busy tourist areas.
Listen to them – our son needed breaks and said it was because his toe hurts. I am pretty sure that actually he was sensory overloaded and needed a time out.
Establish clear rules of what behaviour is expected and any rewards/consequences. In our case this largely involved a lot of Gelato!
They may be unable to deal with their feelings (and possibly become upset or aggressive). Be aware that they may regress (eating with their fingers, need reminding to go to the toilet). Remember that this is a big deal for them and try not to chastise them for their behaviour, instead try and find ways to help them cope. We know that with The Sensory Seeker letting him talk about his favourite computer game helped him calm down. You can also use hand gestures to get your message across, when they do not appear to be responding verbally, or carry visual aids.
Don’t beat yourself up if you did get stressed though – it is hard for us parent/carers too and we are only human. You sometimes may wish to explain why they are licking the locks on the public toilet! The nearest thing I could find is: “Mio figlio non e’ cattivo. E’ autistico. Per favore, siate comprensivi” Which translates to “My son is not being naughty. He is a child with autism/He is autistic. Please show some understanding.”
Consider carrying packed lunches so they can be eaten in quieter locations – and it will alleviate the problem of finding somewhere to eat when they are hungry. Alternatively there are many Pizzerias where you can buy pizza/sandwiches take-away. If you carry a water bottle you can also have an instant drink – plus there’s water fountains around to refill them too.
You could get the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder to carry the bag for the pressure (weighted work).
Also pack ear-phones; a hat and sunglasses; something to do with their hands/keep them occupied (maybe a map to hold or a toy).
If you have any questions or experiences about visiting Italy with Sensory Processing Disorder I would love to hear them in the questions below.
Thanks to AttractionTix for the Hop on Hop off Cruise.