Sensory-being: the enveloping of natural presentness and awareness in an unfolding sensory moment. Sensory Beings: people whose experience of the world, and meaning within it, is primarily sensory. Often these are people who do not have access to language.
If you support someone who understands the world in a primarily sensory way, for example someone with PMLD or later stage dementia, you will recognise that they often face periods of time in which they are left without an activity they can access. This unique, practical guide helps you to plan and deliver sensory activities that lead people into a calm, focused state. You are even invited to let the person you support lead you into a state of sensory focus. Written by a leading sensory specialist this book will help you to:
- View the world as the person you support may view it, and identify times when a sensory-being activity may be appropriate.
- Understand how to select and create the most engaging, low cost, sensory foci to suit the specific needs of the individuals in your care.
- Effectively facilitate sensory-being sessions from start to finish so that the people you care for receive the full and many benefits of calm, focused time.
Tried and tested in a diverse range of settings prior to publication, these techniques and practical tools have already helped many people provide an enriched experience of life for those in their care. Throughout the book you will find numerous case studies and insights from parents, carers, special school practitioners, therapists, research institutions and more so that you can benefit from this broad body of experience.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Introducing Sensory Beings, Linguistic Beings and sensory-being
- Chapter 2: Sensory engagement and experience
- Chapter 3: Stimuli for the visual sense
- Chapter 4: Stimuli for the olfactory sense
- Chapter 5: Stimuli for the auditory sense
- Chapter 6: Stimuli for the gustatory sense
- Chapter 7: Stimuli for the tactile sense
- Chapter 8: Stimuli for the proprioceptive and vestibular senses
- Chapter 9: Foci for Sensory Beings with Dementia
- Chapter 10: Sensory makes
- Chapter 11: Facilitating sensory-being
- Chapter 12: Conclusion
Joanna Grace is an international inclusion and sensory engagement consultant and Founder of The Sensory Projects, with over 20 years of experience work with people with profound disabilities. She provides training on sensory engagement techniques across the UK and internationally to special school teams, adult care settings, speech and language therapy teams and heritage settings. The Sensory-being project is the third of an ever increasing number of Sensory Projects which each seek to impart the knowledge and creativity required to turn inexpensive sensory items into effective tools for inclusion. In all her work Joanna is seeking to contribute to a future where people are understood in spite of their differences.
"Her years of experience combined with intuition and learning have brought Jo, I think, as close as anyone can, to being able to ‘get’ what the world is like for sensory beings.
The book starts with ‘introducing sensory beings’. This is full of theory with explanations pitched at the less scholarly (like me) but without at any point a single note of condescension. There are sublimely mind-opening explanations, such as in chapter 2, taking us through the ’getting wired group’; ‘the ‘search & discover group’; the ‘explore and connect group’ through to the ‘specialising group’. They really make sense and ring true. And she’s managed to slip in a load of real science of how the brain works without frightening me away!
She enables (for me anyway) a new and different kind of respect for sensory beings, through describing their world. Her analogies (learning the properties of metal; learning the useful sounds for a language) helped my understanding – and that’s just two from one page! It’s not that I didn’t have respect for sensory beings, but this book has given me a better lens through which to see them.
Jo brings many insights into the best practice that should be out there – explaining why I am seeing what I'm seeing when I encounter the very best practice. I got a lot from the ‘practitioner insight’ boxes which are scattered throughout, as well as the many short case studies – some of them so inspiring!
She uses wonderful phrases and descriptions which made me stop and think. ‘Parked time’ as an example – something that has long bothered me – but now I have the language for it and more ideas of what to do about it.
Along with the glow I felt, reading Jo’s book, the satisfaction of learning and understanding more, there’s also the feeling of being pulled up sharply sometimes. She doesn’t pull her punches when questioning practice. And this is great too. At my school we have ‘The WHY imperative’, and Jo’s book supports this – asking why we are doing what we are doing at every point. Except Jo knows so much more than me about what works and why it does, and there are pearls of (hard-earned) wisdom throughout.
Chapters 3 to 8 on stimuli for the senses are just astonishing – so many things to think about! However, Jo has made this digestible with a very clever and perceptive way of laying out all the ideas. (My feeling is that she has used her knowledge of the brain to work out what’s best for her readers!) Her idea works – there is an order – but, and this is close to my heart – it’s ‘not that you should seek to push people forwards’. It is that ‘in locating one experience tht appeals to an individual, you can look nearby in the sequence to find others also likely to appeal’. Typical Jo, common sense but brilliantly well thought-out common sense!
As you’d expect, the chapters on making resources and facilitating time with sensory beings are creative and insightful – and cheap!!
This book is written by someone with an outstanding intuition – but it’s more than that, it’s intuition with years of research, experience and a highly developed intelligence behind it. It’s a thoroughly human book, personal and thoughtful throughout. It’s also, without feeling like it is, a scholarly book, based on research. I feel a better practitioner already just for having read it. Congratulations, Jo." - Simon Yates, Leading Special School Practitioner
"It's an inspired book written by someone who really "gets" it and is also able to share it. The respect she has for all humankind is so evident. I particularly loved Jo's use of language and her terminology. As a linguistic being, she has given me the tools to enable me to develop my thoughts and understanding" - Gill Warren, Special School Teacher
"I enjoyed reading ‘Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings’ so much it was hard to put down! I read with delight that I, who have spent 30 years in a special school, have read something which puts into words all I believe in when it comes to planning and delivering sensory experiences. Words that can be used when justifying what I want to do, words that can be used to explain to why?, how? when others look at you as if you are from a different planet!
It is a book I will definitely recommend to new staff, particularly those that have little or no experience of SEN or in deed PMLD." – Janet O'Sullivan Special School Teacher
"Sensory Being for Sensory Beings outlines one technique amongst many which might help our learners connect with, learn and feel safe within their environments. It shows the importance of sensory stimulation, using and engaging the senses and being respectful and responsive to our learners’ independence and time." - Katherine Shearer, the SLD experience
"With clear boundaries and well-placed words of encouragement, this book is as much a soothing massage for the brain (and the senses!) as it is a brilliant handbook for the classroom or home. Every EYFS setting should be using this daily." - EarlyArts