by Karina Barley
I wanted to share briefly my thoughts on sensory issues. I’m not sure how many people are completely aware of how much of a problem this issue is for many kids who are on the spectrum. Many of the ‘negative behaviours’ exhibited I believe can be hugely linked to sensory based issues. We have to remember that ALL BEHAVIOUR TELLS US SOMETHING. So if a child is screaming with their hands over their ears, that’s a big wake up call that they are experiencing pain because the noise is too loud around them. We can’t just assume that if a child appears to be behaving badly that they are being so called ‘naughty’…..look at the behaviour and figure out why they are doing what they are doing. It could also be that they desperately want to tell us something and no-one is listening.
If we think that 100 years ago, the world was a much quieter place and now we are bombarded by sound, colour, technology etc. The kids who struggle
sensorily can’t cope… with this…even one small laptop will make a humming noise that most people don’t even notice, but for the child with autism, it might sound like a tractor in their ears. Very rarely do we find a time to be quiet any more……and I think we all suffer. We have to be mindful and try to make our world a little more autism friendly by toning down the noise of sound, colour and smells. When we talk about attacking the senses, that is exactly what happens for these kids….. when we’re mindful then we are more likely to take notice and help these kids function in a world that can be foreign and frightening. Part of my ongoing research and study is to work out a way that can help tone down the sensory pervasiveness – I think some of the clues of the past help us; it would hurt any of us to be still & quiet occasionally, turn all technology off, and rest from the noise of the world. Secondly, I believe pressure therapy of some sort definitely helps. It’s how we can achieve this and still allowing children dignity and inclusiveness that is the trick.
Anyway, just wanted to share my thoughts as I am 1/ preparing for our fun day and 2/ as I prepare to go away to continue research and to share my research and work.
Karina D. Barley (Diploma of Teaching, Graduate Diploma of Education, Master of Education) is an Australian teacher with over 20 years’ experience in both mainstream and special education schools and it was her interest in Autism and how to provide better educational opportunities for her students with autism that led her to iPads. Karina completed her Master in Education majoring in technology (specifically the use of iPads) and education and also trialed the use of iPads in her classroom for an entire year. She is now engaged in conducting Professional Development in Victoria, Australia for teachers in both primary and secondary schools and also works as an Autism Consultant. Karina partnered with Digital Learning Tree in 2012 to develop a number of courses on iPads in Education, Autism Awareness, Android Technology in Education and 21st Century Education.