This week’s podcast is looking at sensory issues and their impact on school life. Our guest this week is Sarah-Jane Critchley
Sarah-Jane is passionate about helping autistic people, their families, friends and supporters live happier lives of their own choosing. She is the internationally recognised author of ‘A Different Joy: The Parents’ Guide to Living Better with Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and More…’.
She spent 10 years as Programme Manager of the AET. Whilst there she commissioned the AET’s School standards and competency frameworks. A key element of the Standards, Competencies and Progression Frameworks is the section on enabling environments which looks specifically at Sensory Adjustments.
Sarah-Jane is a mother to two autistic teenagers (a late-diagnosed girl and a boy) and an autistic husband and lives with two cats.
Sensory issues are common to many people, including those who are not autistic as well as those who are. Most autistic people experience differences in how they experience the world through their senses. They can be sensory-seeking, or sensory avoidant and the degree of sensitivity can vary from one situation to another and from day to day.
The effects of a poor sensory environment build up over time in increased anxiety and stress and can be catastrophic for the individual and highly challenging for those around them.
Over 700,000 people in the UK are autistic – this includes teachers and parents and well as children in schools. Autistic people experience their senses differently to non-autistic people. Some have extreme reactions to fear and pain due to sensory overload. 70% of autistic people in overload will ‘shut down’ rather than ‘melt-down’. Those who mask their difficulties are far more likely to develop depression and anxiety – possibly leading to school refusal and illness. Masking is toxic.
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