An interview with Becky Lyddon of Sensory Spectacle
Sensory Spectacle create installations to help create a better awareness and understanding of sensory processing difficulties (SPD) based on experiences described by people living with SPD. We run workshops and exhibitions alongside this.
What sorts of sensitivities are common in autistic children (sensory wise)? (Don’t forget autistic children become adults so these sensitivities may be relevant to people of all ages):
All senses may be over (hyper) or under (hypo) stimulated for autistic children. Hyper sensitivities could be to lights, so they may squint or cover their eyes. Hyper sensitivity to sounds may cause someone to cover their ears or to hum to cancel out the sounds. Hypo sensitivity to vision may mean that the child flickers their fingers in front of their eyes to create more visual stimulation.
In terms of awareness, what more could be done for all persons with sensory issues?
I think we (society) need to become more aware of our senses. We adapt to our environment so quickly with new technology etc but we forget to empathise with others. I believe we all learn best through experiencing it for ourselves. If we realize how one of our senses enhances our daily life then we may be more considerate to people with sensory difficulties. In order for people to empathise with people with SPD it is best for them to experience something similar within that context.
For example we were recently commissioned by The Autism Show to build a ‘sensory classroom’. Within this classroom the student were given work to do by a teacher but they were also exposed to the added difficulties of an auditory and visual processing difficulty. This meant the students were learning how these sensory experiences might make them feel and impact their learning while in a classroom situation.
What happens in a sensory spectacle workshop?
In our workshops we create awareness of our senses in general and how they are important in our every day lives. We explore what SPD can be, how it can impact someone’s life and how we could recognise it in order to provide the best support.
The most popular part to our work is our experiential installations. These are objects which help to put the participants into a situation of having a SPD as described by someone with it. After this we reflect on our experience and think about what we may or may not like if we were seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling like this.
We finish the workshop by creating some toys/aids which help to support sensory development and stimulation.
Our workshops can be booked for up to 15 people inhouse, or individuals can book onto pre-planned courses. More details for these are on our website.
What parts of the world do you provide workshops for?
We run workshops anywhere we are asked to go! We have worked in Mumbai, Uganda and Dubai so far and are based in the UK so run many workshops and installation days here with various organisations, schools, companies etc.
Though you focus on autism now, would you be willing to incorporate other sensory issues in the future? Such as SPD (sensory processing disorder) and Misophonia?
We are focused more on SPD now. We began by focusing on Autism as my research was in the sensory world for people on the autistic spectrum. We focus generally on SPD now as it impacts so many people.
We are always open to new avenues for our work too, currently we are starting to explore Dementia so wouldn’t say no to looking into Misophonia too if people are interested in helping us. Email us at [email protected] if you have a project you would like us to explore.
If a parent confronts you and believes their child has sensory issues, how do you respond?
We can’t forget children are very good at picking up behaviours that they have seen. It’s important for the parent to not panic. I’ll ask them why they feel that to begin with.
Then we’ll talk about what they think their child likes/dislikes and then find out reasons why they might not like certain things. I will help them to recognise why they might do certain things e.g hugging tightly, tapping objects, humming loudly.
I am not a professional OT or in the medical profession so I do not diagnose SPD at all but I am happy to support parents to help them meet their childs sensory development. This might be advice on toys, aids, activities which they can do together.
Do you have sensory issues of any sort?
I have no diagnosed sensory issues but everyone has sensory personal preferences. Mine are that I am a very tactile person – I learn more by exploring through touch, I’m not keen on loud noises or places.
Is there anything else you would like to say or mention?
All of our work is based on descriptions from people living with SPD. If you would like to share your experiences with us please email us at [email protected] or download the form on our website www.sensoryspectacle.co.uk. As I mentioned above, we are always looking for new areas to explore, please contact us if you have any enquiries.