A Sensory Point of View – by Cheryl Bedding, seminar speaker at Childcare Expo Midlands 2018

17th September 2018
Cheryl Bedding at Childcare Expo

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We often hear the term “a point view”, which often relates to someone’s opinion and is expressed verbally. As adults we can discuss, agree or disagree and be clear about what the other person’s point of view is, even if we don’t share the same ideas.

However, what about our sensory point of view, our fears, our phobias, our likes and our dislikes? As adults these are not listened to so carefully by others and are often dismissed, for example, a fear of spiders is often dismissed as being silly or stupid.

Now, imagine you are a child – not with a phobia, a fear or a dislike – but a real, emotional, physical and sensory need to avoid something in a nursery that will cause you pain, distress and anxiety. What if to add to this, you cannot verbalise this distress, so it appears to others that you are throwing a tantrum, being silly, inconsistent, and stubborn?

I am sure we have all come across the child who avoids the messy play area with a real venom, they won’t even entertain it. This child is often left alone by staff – “Oh don’t even bother asking Billy if wants to play in the messy play, he hates it”.

Then we have the child who looks from a distance, wandering back and fourth around the sand tray like a lioness stalking her pray – “Oh, I have tried to engage Connor in messy play but he hates it, he just likes to look”. When questioned more closely, the member of staff may tell you he gets close to the paint or the wet sand, but then he is so stubborn as soon as I put the apron on him that he freaks out and runs away. I don’t understand – it’s obvious he wants to play with it, but he hates getting sand/paint on him. I think he is just being difficult and wants to do it his way.

Now if we could talk to Connor, he may have a totally different point of view. When asked “What do you like to play with at nursery?” he might say, “ermmm I like the look of the sand and the paint. I really, really just want to try and touch them and see how they feel, and if I don’t like it I would like to walk away quickly. I try to be brave and walk around them, just trying to get a better look. But as soon as I get close, a teacher puts one of those awful scratchy red things on me. It makes my skin feel like its burning, I hate the feeling of it around my neck – I don’t like that it does up at the back and I feel trapped. My heart beats faster, my head starts to spin and I just want to run away, take it off and be held tightly and spoken to gently. But my teacher gets cross, tells me I’m being silly, I have to wear it or I can’t explore. Why can’t she see my point of view?”

Cheryl Bedding will be giving a seminar at Childcare Expo Midlands called “Entering the world of Sensory Processing Disorder: Making sense of it all” on Friday 28th September. Make sure you book your ticket in advance to save your seat!

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