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.
Why a trip to the Forest is good for SPD and The Auditory Sense (Hearing)
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 The Proprioception (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 The Vestibular 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.
14 thoughts on “Why a trip to The Forest is good for those with Sensory Processing Disorder”
As always this is so thoughtful and clear Joy, what a lovely inspirational post. My two are always happiest in the forest, I would chose it over a kids’ playground any day!
Lots of fabulous tips for things I wouldn’t even have considered. I think there’s just something so grounding and healing being in a forest. If ever things get too much, you can usually find me in one around here! 🙂
A trip to the forest is good for everyone isn’t it? The forest is my happy place
I’ve never really given any thought to the different senses that we use and experience whilst on a trip to the Forest with the children. Thank you for opening my eyes to just how different an experience this can be.
Really interesting and I had never really thought about the positive effects on the different senses. I think forest play is brilliant for all children as it often is out of their comfort zone and they can experience so many different things.
Great post and thanks because you’ve given me the push I need to get my girl back out to a forest! She does love being outdoors, it’s just difficult to persuade her at times. But you’re right, so much sensory stuff 🙂
really well considered Joy and you make ssome great thoughtful points
I’d really not thought about it from all these angles. Thank you for sharing. I feel that it’s a big world of the unknown sometimes, so I can be nervous to try things out. I will definitely use this with the boys as a checklist of things we can do to enjoy our forest more!
That’s really interesting Joy with some great points.
My two love a trip to our local woods x x
Such a great post for reinforcing just how brilliant forests are and especially the local things we have here in Gloucestershire.
My son has not been diagnosed with SPD but he does have an interest in visiting forests and after reading this I will remind him!
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