When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out. It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.
Sensory Christmas Activities for the Sensory Seeker
I try to ensure that we do a good mix of Christmas Activities on the build up to Christmas and how I run that activity will depend on The Sensory Seeker. For example – does he need noise (and therefore we will put Christmas music on, sing, etc) or does he need it settled and quiet? Does he need a non-messy activity that he can really touch? Or does he need to get messy (and plan a bath time straight afterwards). Which kind of materials should I use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different one?
Sensory Snowman Cards
To demonstrate what I mean let’s take the idea of making a Snowman Christmas Card. You can really vary how much sensory input is involved and vary the craft material. This year we used shredded paper.
This is a non-messy craft in terms of it getting stuck to The Sensory Seeker but meant he could get it all over his hands (and my room!) without too much fuss. It was easy for him to understand the craft – as he simply had to stick it into two circular shapes. You could draw around something round like In the Playroom’s Upcycled Snowman Collage Cards. He was then free to use whatever craft materials he liked to decorate his snowman.
Alternatively, if this would have been too difficult for him I could have put the glue on the card in circles myself; Or the circles could be drawn with a white crayon (on a darker background); Or stuck on with paper or felt; Or even used cotton wool pads like this Quick Craft Snowman Card from RedTedArt.
If you wanted to get messier than how about using finger prints to make snowmen out of white paint. Or if you wanted to use paint without getting dirty how about using the end of an old toilet roll holder to put circles of paint on the page.
Celebrated director and choreographer Arthur Pita returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio this Christmas withð his magical dance theatre show, The Little Match Girl. An unlikely heroine is an impoverished young street girl, who wanders the ever-darkening streets with just one final match to keep her warm on a cold Christmas Eve.
Relaxed Performance Thursday 15th December, 1pm
The Relaxed Performance will have:
An altered performance
wheelchair spaces (please note these have all sold out for this performance)
A chill out area
Visual Story and Story Board available before the performance by e-mail when booking
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.
With Panto Season just around the corner it is good to see that so many theatres are putting on Relaxed Performances to make it more inclusive for all. I am compiling a list of Pantos with Relaxed Performances showing for the 2016-2017 Season and will add more that I hear of.
What are Relaxed Performances of a Panto?
Of course all theatres may vary slightly with what they offer but in general a Relaxed Performance is an adaptation of the regular Panto but is more suitable for those with autistic, sensory and communication conditions, learning disorders and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Everyone is welcome but the performances are more relaxed – meaning that people will understand if someone needs to clap their hands, make noises or move around the auditorium. Some have fewer seats for sale, providing increased wheelchair capacity and giving audience members more space to make them feel more comfortable.
Lighting effects, noises and elements of surprise are kept to a minimum and with house lights being partially up (also making it safer to move around). Doors may be left open and chill-out areas provided for if the auditorium becomes overwhelming – with beanbags, sensory toys and bubble lights, that can be accessed throughout the show. There is often a chance to become familiar with the theatre and actors before the performance and/or a visual story. Front of House teams are often given specific training if any difficulties arise. Some theatres even have Autism Support Groups on hand to give any advice and information leaflets.
Please contact each theatre to find out exactly what it is they provide before booking. Information is accurate to my understanding at time of publish, gleamed from the individual venues but I take no responsibility for errors and advise checking before placing an order/making plans.
To find about more about this performance or to book your tickets, please call the Box Office on 01483 440000. All tickets for this performance are £9 which includes the Restoration Levy and Booking Fee. When booking your tickets you can let them know if you would like a familiarisation tour prior to your visit.
Friday 16th December 2016
Peter Pan – 10:30am Hawth Theatre, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ
Stars Shaun Williamson, aka Barry from EastEnders, Emma Barton (Honey in Eastenders) alongside Cook and Line, the pirate duo from CBeebies show Swashbuckle.
British Sign Language Interpreted Performance (Signer: Tony Oliver) – Saturday 17 December, 2pm
Sunday 18th December 2016
Robin Hood The Pantomime – 2pm Assembly rooms Ludlow, 1 Mill St, Ludlow SY8 1AZ
The Box Office is open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday: 01584 878141. £5 child, £8 adult, £22 family. Support companions go free, but still must book in advance. You can also book online, by post or in person.
Monday 19th December 2016
Snow White and Other Tales from the Brothers Grimm – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford OX2 7JN
Cinderella – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: The Mill Arts Centre Banbury X16 5QE
Tickets are now on sale but if you have any questions, please call the Box Office on 01865 766266. For those who would benefit from the adapted performance, a special Relaxed Ticket at £10.
Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat – 1:30pm Chequer Mead Theatre, De La Warr Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3BS
Starring Really Wild Show presenter Howie Watkins, BBC Sussex and Surrey’s Allison Ferns and Brookside actor Allen Mechen.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE
TV favourite Jorgie Porter* (Hollyoaks, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!) will be making her pantomime debut as she heads up this year’s cast in the title role of Snow White! Jorgie will be joined by Radio City 96.7 Breakfast Show’s Leanne Campbell (a much-loved member of the Empire panto family, now in her fourth year) as the Wicked Queen, and back by popular demand is Liam Mellor as the lovable comic, Muddles
The theatre does not have its own parking facilities but Liverpool boasts many city centre car parks with reasonable rates and many are within 5 minutes’ walk of the theatre. The closest car parks are located at Mount Pleasant, Lord Nelson Street, Queen Square and at St John’s Shopping Centre on Lime Street. St. John’s Car Park offers discounted parking of £2.00 for patrons visiting the Liverpool Empire after 6.00pm and leaving before midnight (car park ticket must be validated in the theatre foyer).
0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge)
Wednesday 28th December 2016
Sleeping Beauty – 17:00
Sunderland Empire. High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR1 3EX
Vicky Entwistle (Coronation Street, Les Misérables, The Vagina Monologues) is set to reveal a wicked side when she takes on the evil role of Carabosse, alongside actress and ‘Steps’ star Faye Tozer, who is set to sparkle as the Good Fairy and children’s TV favourite Andrew Agnew (CBeebies, Balamory), who returns to Sunderland following his triumphant panto performance in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2014, in the role of Silly Billy and also as director of this year’s pantomime!
Joining them is Amy-Leigh Hickman as Princess Briar Rose, who is best known for playing Carmen in the popular CBBC series Tracy Beaker, plus spin off series The Dumping Ground and more recently as Linzi Bragg in Eastenders. The line-up is completed by special guest star and legend of radio, screen and stage, Bobby Crush (Opportunity Knocks, Benidorm, The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago) as Nurse Kelly.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge) Mon-Sat, 9am-10pm. Sun 10am-8pm
Thursday 29th December 2016
Cinderella – 13:30
Bristol Hippodrome Theatre, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ
Torvill & Dean take to the stage as the Fairy Godparents. The classic rags to riches tale Cinderella will be transformed into a breath-taking family extravaganza with glittering sets, gorgeous costumes, big song and dance numbers, real Shetland ponies and jaw-dropping skating sequences.
If you require information about parking for patrons with a disability please call 0117 3023222 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm) or email email@example.com
Access Bookings: 0117 3023222
Friday 30th December 2016
Aladdin – 13:00
Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP
Loose Women and Benidorm favourite, and star of the all-new Are You Being Served?, Sherrie Hewson, will be appearing as The Genie of the Ring, opposite one of Manchester’s best-loved actors, John Thomson (Cold Feet) as the evil Abanazar. Pop sensation Ben Adams (A1) will tread the boards as the title role, Aladdin, and to complete the line-up, writer, director and one of the best dames in the business, Eric Potts will star as Widow Twankey!
Jack and the Beanstalk – 1.30pm and 7.15pm Theatre Royal Nottingham, Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND
This year’s GIANT family-friendly panto adventure stars the legendary comedy-duo The Chuckle Brothers as Paul and Barry Trot, Benidorm’sTony Maudsley as Dame Trot, and The X Factor finalist Chico as Jack, the hero of our tale. This unmissable production carries the Theatre Royal pantomime hallmark of outstanding entertainment for all ages and features laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning costumes and scenery, and amazing special effects as the audience and cast enter the Giant’s castle in spectacular 3D!
Sign Language Interpreted15/12/2016 1:30 pm
Audio Described17/12/2016 2:30 pm
Sign Language Interpreted18/12/2016 1:30 pm
Captioned07/01/2017 2:30 pm
Audio Described08/01/2017 1:30 pm
Sign Language Interpreted13/01/2017 7:15 pm
Call Caroline Pope on 0115 989 5627 for further details and to book. £2 for online bookings or £3 for phone & counter sales applies per transaction.
Thursday 5th January 2017
Jack and the Beanstalk – 10am The Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ
There will be an audio described performance and touch tour for the performance on Wednesday 4th January @ 2.00pm and a sign language interpreted performance on Saturday 7th January @ 2pm
For the Relaxed Performance: 01242 695574
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 19:00
New Victoria Theatre. The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre. Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ
The job of head dwarf Prof is a tall order but nothing that TV and film star Warwick Davis can’t measure up to. Known to millions from his roles in Star Wars, the Harry Potter series and Willow, as well as TV comedy series Life’s Too Short and Idiot Abroad 3, he will ensure that the pantomime won’t be short of laughs this Christmas. Joining him is comedy favourite Andy Ford as the Henchman.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Sleeping Beauty – 13:30
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond. Surrey, TW9 1QJ
Maureen Lipman makes a welcome return to Richmond’s spectacular Panto as the Wicked Fairy. With a catalogue of acting credits for television, stage and film, Maureen is well-known for her roles in films Educating Rita and the award-winning The Pianist. Joining her after two highly successful pantomimes at Richmond will be none other than CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis in the role of Chester the Jester, returning for a third year in a row, due to overwhelming popular demand.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Returning for the second year running as one half of them awfy Ugly Sisters is Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt, Naked Video). Gregor’s old chum Tony Roper (Rab C Nesbitt, The Steamie) is back in his squad as a fellow ugly alongside King’s panto favourite Des Clarke (Capital FM) as Buttons. River City’s Gary Lamont stars as Dandini with Elaine MacKenzie Ellis (Rab C Nesbitt, Me Too) as the Fairy Godmother also taking to the ballroom floor. Completing the cast is our Prince Josh Tevendale (Avenue Q) and of course, Cinderella herself, Gillian Ford. It’s gonnae have to be some size of pumpkin carriage for this lot!
Glasgow City Council operates a supervised 24hr, pay-on-foot (credit cards accepted) multi-storey car park behind the theatre in Elmbank Crescent with access via Elmbank St. Parking after 6pm costs £2.50 and this charge entitles you to park until 8am the following day. This car park has spaces reserved for people with disabilities.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Wednesday 11th January 2017
DIck Whittington 11:00
New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG
The Home of London Pantomime is thrilled to announce the strictly sensational Arlene Phillips CBE will make her pantomime debut in this year’s Dick Whittington alongside the return of the side-splittingly hilarious Tim Vine and the best dame in the business, Matthew Kelly.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Box Office on 0115 941 9419 for more details on Relaxed Performances. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding familiarisation visits, wheelchair access and disabled parking, all you need to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOHN BARROWMAN, STEVE MCFADDEN, THE KRANKIESand MATT SLACK
Captioned: Sunday 8th January 2017 1pm and Wednesday 11th January 7:15pm
Signed: Sunday 15th January 2017 1pm & 5:15pm
Audio Described: Wednesday 18th January 2017 2pm & Saturday 21st January 2017 2:30pm.
No Under 3s
For further information, please contact Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager, on 0121 689 3064 or email@example.com. Please note, this contact is for information only. Bookings MUST be made through the Ticket Sales number on 0844 338 5000 (Call cost 4.5p per min plus access charge).
I was also told of the following:
Oldham – Coliseum – Sleeping Beauty
Audio Described: Tuesday 13 December, 7.30pm
BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm
Bolton – Octagon Theatre – Cinderella
Audio Described: Friday 2 December 7:00pm
BSL: Friday 9 December 7:00pm
Captioned: Friday 16 December 7:00pm
Manchester – The Lowry – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm.
Audio Description: Sunday 18 December, 2pm. Free Touch Tour 12.30pm.
Relaxed: Thursday 22 December, 2pm – please book in person or over the phone on 0843 208 6010.
Captioned: Tuesday 10 January, 7.30pm
If you know of any other Relaxed Performance Pantos then please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I can add them in.
Halloween can be an awful time for those with Sensory Processing Disorder – a change of routine and additional stimulation. But it doesn’t have to be such a negative experience as long as you are prepared and have some ideas up your sleeve. Remember the most important thing is to ensure that each individual has the right Sensory Diet for their needs – making sure they get just the right amounts of input for each of the senses – whether that be trying to reduce or stimulate it.
The Sensory Seeker is absolutely loving Ghostbusters currently and he has the new, Year 2 Wave 6 LEGO Dimensions Ghostbusters Story Pack – or the Girl Ghostbusters as he calls it. He is so good at it and best of all this little boy, who I feared may never be able to talk when he was at preschool, was explaining all about the game and the new packs he has at the Family Playstation event we attended last weekend. Not only have games helped him with his communication but in so many other ways including being more socialable. I like to take his interest off the computer as well, and have previously looked at Ghost Crafts. This time I wanted to really have him focused and this is where the idea for Slimer Biscuits came from – just perfect for Halloween.
How to make Slimer Biscuits
I have talked about the Benefits of making Biscuits with Sensory Processing Disorder when we made them as Christmas Gifts . We again used the same all in one method – and The Sensory Seeker felt really confident in himself that he made them “all by himself.” Of course he absolutely loved getting his hands in the bowl with all the lovely textures mixing the ingredients in. He still hasn’t managed to be tempted by licking the butter though! Ingredients for the biscuits: 250g Softenend butter, 140g castor sugar, 1 egg yolk, 300g plain flour (plus extra if it is to sticky and for the surface/rolling pin) and vanilla essence.
Method for biscuits: Mix together ingredients, roll out the mixture, cut into shapes, cook in the oven until golden.
The idea for the Slimer biscuits came from Simpsons Doughnuts. You know the ones which are literally pink with hundreds and thousands on. We had originally wanted to buy plain doughnuts but could not find any. To make Slimer biscuits we simply to the same but needed to make it green.We bought some lemon icing and simply mixed in blue food colouring. Then we spent ages sorting out green hundreds and thousands! Once the biscuits had cooled we spread the icing on the top and added the green sprinkles. The Sensory Seeker then decided he wanted a couple of different coloured stands for the eyes and nose. The boys actually ended up doing some with multi-coloured sprinkles too.Guess what the biscuits didn’t much look like Slimer, and they weren’t difficult to make – but to my little boy they were the BEST biscuits in the World. AND HE had made them!Other Posts of Interest this Halloween:
Life with a child with additional needs can be more difficulty financially and access wise. It is why I feel that parents should not be ashamed to claim any benefits they can to help enable their child a normal life as possible. Days out can be more difficult – financially, physically and emotionally: From trying to set off until the time you get home.
Sometimes the day can be spent so much dealing with the additional needs that it feels unjustifiable for such a financial expense. For us that usually means we do not arrive on a day out until lunch time, which then means we have to eat and have missed half a day. Or the sensory input becomes too overwhelming (especially if he gets wet at all) – and then we have to leave early.
The Max Card
The Max Card aims to create memories and bring families closer together through fun and enjoyable days out. This is achieve with the help of supporting local authorities, selected charities and venues which then gives access to free or discounted entry to over 1,100 attractions across the UK to eligible children and their families.’
Max Card Attractions
The discounted and free attractions available with the Max Card are available throughout the UK – which can be browsed on the Max Card Website (by Region and then by County) – as well as having some online only offers. Some you can just turn up and show your card and others need to be booked in advanced. The Max Card states that the card is for two adults and two children – but this is dependent on the venue. Discounts include things like Merlin Attractions and Annual Passes, Sensory Oojamabobs, Chewigem, Leisure Centres, Tenpin Bowling, Lasertag, Paintballing, Virgin Experience days, Libraries, Museums, Fun Fairs, Safari Parks, Farm & Fun Parks, Go Apes – and much much more.
Ordering a Max Card
To order a Max Card contact the local City Council who will be able to let you know if you qualify (it is also for Foster Families) or email email@example.com if you’re not sure who to contact. If you do not have a local authority or charity who issue the cards and you know of one that would be happy to help then please contact Max Card who are always on the look-out for new ones to join in so that more families can benefit from their worthwhile scheme. The Max Card is valid for two years from the month that the local authority receives the card: The expiry date is on the reverse of the card.
Sensory Processing Disorder and Struggling with Emotions
Individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition are very likely to struggle with their emotions. Not only explaining them but understanding them in the first place. If you do not know how they are feeling that it is really hard to try and help. Emotional regulation is really important to help avoid meltdowns. Once the individual is able to identify them themselves they can then begin to self-regulate and take control of their sensory under and overloads.
How those with Sensory Processing Disorder may Struggle with Emotions
The individual with Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism may try and mirror other’s emotions – so if someone else is hurt they feel it too. They may feel upset if someone else is punished when they do not feel that the punishment was justified and have a sense of righteousness. Or they may become angry if someone is doing something they do not like – even if that is tickling them or being too loud.
Helping those with Sensory Processing Disorder cope with Emotions
To help them better understand their feelings they need to be reassured that it is okay to have them, and then tell them what each one is called as they experience it. Offer reassurance and calming techniques (rubbing their back, firm hugs, music, lights, movement or a weighted blanket for example). It may help to have emotions printed on face picture cards so that they can see what they are feeling. These will also help aid the individual to communicate how they are feeling (especially good if they are feeling unwell). You may find it helps to have somewhere to put their problem (such as into a Worry Eater).
Sensory Processing Disorder Dreams and Emotions
A good way to identify a child’s emotions is through that of their dreams. Dreams are about the self and can be symbolic or real. This can be confusing for anyone but particular those with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autism. They could be what prevents them from trying to sleep and/or waking them up in the night. If you can get them to talk to you about what happens in their dreams it may help to unravel how they are coping emotionally. Again using the visual aids may help with this process as you talk things through.
Ian Wallace, a well-known expert in the field of Dreams talks about children’s dreams interpreted in the following video:
You know that feeling of getting back to your own bed – that nowhere else feels just quite right? It is the right temperature, the size of the bed (being just right for the position you want to be in), the feel of the sheets, blankets and pillows as well as the hardness of the mattress and maybe even the smell of the room. When you are away it is these little things that may mean you find it difficult to sleep – possibly even making you feel irritable. This is just a small insight into what it may be like for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder to get to sleep – even in their own room. When The Sensory Seeker struggles with sleep I try to consider each and every one of the senses and try to eliminate things that may be keeping him awake. The main problem is he may not even know what it is – so cannot really communicate what the problem is.
Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Temperature is wrong
We know what it is like trying to sleep when it is too hot – or even too cold. But generally we are able to adjust this – turn on a fan, grab an extra blanket, wear more or less clothes. The individual with Sensory Processing Disorder may either not realise that this is the sense causing the problem, or be able to take action, or possibly it could cause more problems (eg the fan interferes with the noise sense, the extra blanket the touch sense and so on). I think it is important to also understand that just because you think it is getting cold at night now may not be how they are feeling – we are all different after all. You may really need to just experiment with fans, heaters, layers of clothing//blankets etc – and just keep listening to the individual with SPD (not just their words but how they react). It may change every night. They may be asking for water and you may think it is a distraction, but they could genuinely be too hot. Be careful not to give them too much to drink at night that results in a problem with bedwetting though!
Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Touch is wrong
Do you have to sleep with a blanket touching you even though you are boiling hot? Trying to sleep when things do not feel right is probably the problem we can relate to the most. Again this is about experimentation and listening to the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder until the right combinations of touch are found: A technique called Brushing may help before bed or using weighted blankets (although they are controversial as to whether they could be taken off in an emergency okay). Try different nightwear (or without), blankets, pillows – even think about the air! For example is that fan blowing on them? This could be something they like or dislike! You may need to think about the position of the fan – is it blowing from above or to the side, can you move it? How hard is the bed? Could you put a blanket underneath the sheet to make it softer?
Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Smell is wrong
I think smell is hugely neglected when it comes to considering how to help in general but it can be just as much of an annoyance as the other senses. Before even thinking about trying to get to sleep I make sure that I open the windows in the day to allow fresh air in (and shut them at night to keep the noise out). For our Sensory Seeker what works is keeping a fresh smell (and sometimes using air fresheners). Again you really need to just try and smell the room, and work with the individual adjusting things that MAY (or may not) be the problem until you hit on the perfect combination (which can then just as easily change the next night).
Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Light is wrong
Whether it is having the room dark or light which helps them to sleep, I think that it is one of the easier things to control. If the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder wants light there are all manner of different lights, designs, colours, shapes and sizes on the market to meet each of their individual needs, and allowing them to be positioned where they need to be. Of course there are even ones to meet any obsessions they have too.
The Sensory Seeker says that he is afraid of the dark however (possibly just due to his age); that monsters are going to get him. Trouble is he is really sensitive to light and it wakes him up (yay for winter on its way!). To get around this we have a blackout blind and have positioned his bed away from the window. If this had not of worked we were going to try a sleep mask (which he would have liked as he likes the sense of touch). However, also consider whether they will be trying to get out of bed whilst still wearing the mask – my husband worried that if we got one then The Sensory Seeker half asleep would try to go to the toilet in the night without removing the mask and fall down the stairs. We also got him a Worry Eater to which we have told him will eat his anxieties and protect him from danger.
Of course you also need to take into account other visual factors such as the colour of the room, how cluttered it is with things to see, etc.
Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Noise level is wrong
I like it quiet when I am trying to sleep in bed and would rather have a window shut on a hot day than hear the sound of a dog barking or a car alarm going off. Your child may be able to sleep with ear defenders or ear plugs if the noise is too loud. If you are really lucky you could sound proof the room. But not everyone wants quiet whilst they try to get to sleep or are sleeping – and some kind of radio may help with this – or reading/singing to them until they fall asleep. Or leave some white noise – like a vacuum on for them. In fact our own Sensory Seeker has been known to listen to Yoga Nidra to help get to sleep (this helps switch the brain between the nervous systems as well as providing him with the noise input he needs).
Also you need to think about body position – I said above I like quiet when trying to sleep in bed because I know if I am sitting up in a moving car I actually find it easier to sleep if the music is on (when I am a passenger I made add). This is just an example how things you may think you have found the answer to for one of the senses can change when you consider another.
Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Taste is wrong
This goes back to what happens before bed – I guess how long before they go that they brush their teeth. We find allowing The Sensory Seeker to brush his teeth and get ready for bed a while before actually going to bed helps – and this may be to do with the fact that he is not distracted by the taste of the toothpaste flavour when trying to go to sleep. I know it sounds silly but it really is important just to focus on each sense and really have a good think about what could be stopping them.
Of course it could be that the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder you are trying to get to sleep is just a human being – and we all struggle or don’t want to go to sleep sometimes do we?! Especially if they are a child – I remember trying to stay awake all night with my sister, or they could be excited/anxious. Give them plenty of time to talk – however hard they find expressing their feelings.
When it comes to Sensory Processing Disorder you really do have to consider all of the senses. And wen it comes to hygiene the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is smell – because The Sensory Seeker is really sensitive to different ones, and if they are not right he will refuse to use whatever it is or want to escape from it (and there’s no point in forcing him because this just raises his anxiety levels and brings on a meltdown – or what appears to be a tantrum!). Therefore finding the right products for the bathroom have been a real game changer for helping him to keep clean. There are some things he is more particular about than others, or that he just likes more than the rest. Carex Strawberry Laces are one of the products he loves – so how would he feel about trying the new Carex Fun Edition Love Hearts?
Sensory Seeker and Carex Fun Edition Love Hearts
It always was going to be a tough competition as the Love Hearts went up against the Strawberry Laces. Our Sensory Seeker loves Strawberry Laces Hand Wash by Cussons Carex so much so that we have had to start just topping up the empty bottle a bit at a time, or he just uses it all. Although it was quite funny the time he told me to smell his armpits as he had even used it there! When asked to try the new Love Hearts I felt unsure of how well he would make the change.
Just like the Strawberry Laces the Love Hearts Hand Wash smells just like the sweets – it really is the perfect solution for encouraging our son to wash his hands. I think even the most reluctant of hand washers would want this smell on their hands. It effectively removes dirt and kills 99.9% of bacteria. It is dermatologically tested by experts and contains a special blend of moisturisers which helps to keep the skin soft. It certainly was a winner in our house with The Sensory Seeker (and well the whole family).
You may also be interested in the following previous posts:
The Forest is a great place for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder and visiting a Forestry Commission site means that there are toilets, a café, parking and a park too. Suitable all year round both day and night, here are some of the reasons that I believe that it is a great place for Sensory Seekers and Sensory Avoiders.
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and The Visual Sense(vision/seeing)
Visually there is so much to see in The Forest, but without it being too much (with the colours being mostly shades of green and browns). I do like how each time The Forest can be visited it may be different as the seasons change, giving something new to look out for, whilst providing that security of routine. Likewise The Forest gives the option of moving into the shade/dark or coming out into the open for more light. The Forest also has opportunities for getting really up close to things – as well as viewing them from a distance. You could even visit on a dark evening and take glow sticks.
The Forest is a great place for the auditory sense because it can be so quiet – or so noisy depending on how you need it. Listen to gentle sounds like leaves crunching, birds, taping twigs, the wind, water – or for those that need it, make loud noises!
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and TheProprioception(Sense of body position, from information received through the muscles, and joints – force, speed and control)
The Forest gives them the opportunity to explore Proprioception – allowing different body positions using fallen/cut trees, or (carefully) hang from a branch, exploring going fast or slow, and even things like pouring water into a cup – as it does not matter if it spills over on to the floor.
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and TheVestibular Sense– Movement and Balance/Gravity
The Forest is great for a Seeker in the Vestibular sense – with plenty of places to jump, spin, do star jumps, skip, hop, dance, play tag and run about. Do be careful with them taking excessive risks with climbing though – however we found that most of the trees were not climbable with the lower branches removed. The Forest is also suitable for taking bikes and scooters too. There is plenty of opportunity to practise their co-ordination, gross and fine motor skills. Or there’s the option of Go Ape.
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and Olfactory (smell)
I think that The Forest is good in terms of smell as there are scents to enjoy/experience but it is not overwhelming. If more smell is required you could bring a scent with you that they can hold and sniff when needed.
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and Tactile(touch)
The Forest offers lots of things to touch (mainly on their own terms too). There are trees, leaves, mud, water, flowers, mushrooms, stones, moss, pinecones, acorns, etc, etc. If you are feeling really brave (and I suggest spare clothes) why not let Seekers go barefoot – and splash in muddy puddles. If they are avoiders you can gently encourage them to try a range of new textures and sensations on small parts of their body and slowly build it up (eg start with finger tips until they can touch it with their whole hand). Seekers will be happy to walk around carrying as many sticks as they can too!
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and Gustatory (taste)
Of course it is best not to eat things that you do not know what they are – but The Forest is a perfect place for a picnic and there are tables provided. Bring their favourite foods and make the day more special.
Can you think of any other ways a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder?
For more information if you wonder if your child has Sensory Processing Disorder please read this post.
I receive free parking passes and material from the Forestry Commission. Words and opinions are honest and my own.
The hardest thing for me during the whole process of switching from a Statement to an EHCP was time – and the fact that I had to think so much about the answers to the questions I had to keep answering what seemed like over and over and over again. I was glad to have a degree when filling in the Family Contribution form and cannot imagine how difficult it must be for some families to do. I opted to type mine on the computer which meant I could just add to it, or draw out relevant bits when asked for the information again by someone new. I completely forgot to ask to be referred back to Occupational Therapy in time and so they have not been part of the process.
Experience of The EHCP Meeting
Well I have to say that the meeting itself was not as hard as I thought it would be and I guess it is because no-one mentioned any levels and I already knew that he was behind his peers – so that was not a big shock. I feel that I did not really know or understand what was going on and had to just trust the professionals. In attendance I had the current school SENCo/Head, the new school SENCo, his new TA, The Speech and Language Therapist, The School Advisory Teacher, and the lady from the council.
When I asked about adding in his Sensory Issues it became a little awkward as here in the UK there isn’t an official diagnosis for Sensory Processing Disorder. I hadn’t included information from the Occupational Therapist or Paediatrician as their reports were longer than the date – but the lady from the council said she would see if she could include them. I do think that the people in the room were a little under-educate in sensory issues and they seemed to think everything could be sorted with some tactile toys (least it is a start I guess). I suppose the problem also lies in the fact that I did not really know what to say as how to include it into the EHCP either.
It was good to hear his progress and that he has a good work ethic. He just wants to be like everyone else and tries so hard to obtain it. Fingers crossed he even may have passed his phonics screening this year! There was a lot of emphasis on making sure his transition to his new school goes well and I met his new TA. His old TA will also be moving schools and working as a classroom assistant. It was hard to hear how much me going away affected him and his behaviour – but was good in a way as it highlighted how he needs extra support to deal with changes. It was good to hear that the schools were liaising on the best ways to help him.
I now have to wait for the draft EHCP and then I have a very short period of time to read through it, making any changes needed and send it back. I am feeling hopeful -fingers crossed now.