The Sensory Projects
Joanna Grace is a Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, Author, Trainer, TEDx speaker (watch “Inclusion; For Pity’s Sake?” below) and founder of The Sensory Projects. www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk
Joanna has worked supporting neurodiverse people of all ages in education and care settings and has been a foster carer for children with additional needs. She is particularly keen to see people supporting neurodivergent individuals understand that behaviour triggers by sensory causes may need a different response to behaviour triggered by other causes. Joanna highlights sensory communication strategies as key to supporting people who express their difficulties with the sensory world through their behaviour.
With regards to the inclusion of neurodivergent people Joanna believes that society bears the responsibility to change. Joanna is autistic.
You can find more resources from Joanna, including lockdown provisions and and information about her upcoming training days, “Exploring the Impact of the Senses on Behaviour” here.
Feedback from past delegates:
Easily the best course I’ve been on this decade. Today I dipped my toe in the water and changed just a few things in my setting ….the response I got was overwhelming. I’ve never felt so loved and appreciated. It was like my pupils were saying ( in their non verbal way ) ‘finally you get it …we are on the same page.‘ I’m ready to change what I do in September, change my keystage and school.
I thought I knew about which sensory activities to offer when children displayed certain behaviours. This course enabled me to take a step back and consider what was causing that sensory need in the first place. To think about ‘ flight ‘ and the prevention of ‘ fight ‘ so you don’t have to deescalate. It sewed seeds subtlety that will change my practice for good now.
Most useful of everything is Jo’s perspective on emotion. I never ever thought of it like this before and have been indoctrinating children into labelling certain actions and facial expressions in the same way we once taught rote maths with no application or true understanding. It kind of made me really question my understanding of autism. I really admire Jo’s honesty and unique insight. By talking about her own life it makes it easier to understand.
The Power of Educating the Community
Behaviour is a skill. Whilst we can expect people to have patience with someone who has not mastered, for example, the skill of reading, the same is often not true with regards to behaviour. This lack of understanding from professionals and peers exacerbates barriers to inclusion, and has a knock on effect on the mental health and self esteem of the person developing their skills.
A lack of peer and professional understanding, especially with regards to communication strategies and sensory differences, can additionally have an impact on family members and supporters of neurodivergent people, causing them to feel isolated and as if they do not belong.
This 50 minute talk examines the barriers to understanding we face, and gives some simple practical strategies for tackling them.