Exploring the senses a sensation at the Links

January 3, 2018

A series of sensory workshops to stimulate the various senses has been run recently by colleagues at the Links for individuals with varying abilities and needs.

Many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information. Any of the senses may be over or under-sensitive, or both, at different times. These sensory differences can affect behaviour, and can have a profound effect on a person’s life. Hosting workshop like this help both individuals attending and colleagues supporting them to develop a clearer sensory profile.

Three particular individuals pictured, all with varying abilities, enjoyed taking part in the sessions that took place, with different senses such as; touch, smell, taste, sound and sight, being explored each week.

During the touch session, different materials were sourced so that people involved in the session could feel each one and chose the pieces they wanted to cut and glue to their own storyboard.

Attendees also had the opportunity to explore touch by finding different objects within boxes that had been filled with different textures. They were also offered a range of trays with rice and salt on them and people either used a tool or fingers to touch and move the rice or salt around on the tray.

In addition, a sensory bag containing coloured water with small hard plastic stars was passed amongst those wishing to experience the sensation.

Smell and taste were the senses being explored in the second session where individuals had the chance to smell various items which included, pepper, vinegar, curry powder and cinnamon. This had different responses from everyone with some amusing facial expressions being made!

Throughout the tasting session, a variety of foods with different textures were explored. These included jelly, beans, cucumber, carrot and pepper. This again had varying responses, including a refusal to try.

During these activities, yes/no cards were used for limited verbal individuals to communicate on whether they liked what was being tasted or smelt.

The following session covered sound. Attendees could choose from various instruments or tubs filled with pasta, rice or baking beads to play alongside music. The idea being to try and listen carefully to the music and the beat and use their chosen instrument to shake, bang or blow along. During this session fast and slow music was played and fabric was also available for people to move it up and down with support colleagues at a fast or slow pace.

Throughout all the sessions, an element of hand and eye co-ordination activity has also taken place. These included threading pasta, using a soft toy clown that has zips, buttons and poppers on, sorting different coloured pom-poms into an egg box and hook a duck. All sessions were designed to stimulate the senses and engage individuals in new and familiar experiences. They were supported throughout with any help they required to participate and enjoy the sessions, with quite a few getting fully immersed into the activities and explorations.

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