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A Sensory Diet: Out and About

29 March, 2012

Going out into the big, wide world is a little more challenging for parents of children with disabilities, regardless of the disability.  The sensory challenges can be many, although there can be unrivalled opportunities for sensory play out in that big, bad world.

Recently our family went for a trip to the museum, and I took a few photos outlining some of the behaviours and challenges we found on the outing (and this was all in the space of half an hour).

Any parent of a child who has autism or is on “the spectrum” will know about obsessions.  Josiah isn’t even *on* the spectrum (at this point) but I am definitely seeing some obsessions emerge.

Dorothy the Dinosaur is on a swing that moves.  She swings back and forth and “sings” a song about swinging.  I think the repetitive movement, even though he’s only looking at it (not experiencing it), is soothing.  He is happy to stay there, watching it for a long time and he come back to it again and again.

You’ll have to forgive the really bad photography in the next one (the flash was too close but the flash-less one was really blurry.  It was taken on a different day – two days earlier – when I took just Josiah and Rhiannon to the Powerhouse Museum.  He was really into the swing then too.

He was also quite taken by it when we went to the same exhibit in late October.

There were a few things he consistently came back to in the exhibit each time – the talking door, Dorothy on the swing and the Big Red Car.

What this photo doesn’t show you is that I spent twenty minutes with Josiah in the Big Red Car.  On both recent occasions.  (Just FYI there was no line for the car and there was always plenty of space and time for other children to climb in it and ride as they wished.  That’s one of the reasons I was there the whole time, to make sure he wasn’t preventing other children from having a turn.)

The Big Red Car isn’t just for sitting in though.  Apparently it’s for climbing on.

It’s also for swinging on.

He also liked to do up the seat belts.  Which is kind of cute.  He said “Oh No!” (his current favourite phrase) every time a child got out and left the seat belt undone.

Which is kind of cute, until he gets stressed because someone has plugged the buckle into the wrong… other part (what are the proper names?) and the remaining buckle and … other part wont reach each other.  And then it becomes a tantrum.

This was taken two days earlier.  He was more into the whole “going” experience then.

The first visit it seems he just wasn’t that into the Big Red Car…

Then there’s always dancing as good heavy work and vestibular input.

But there’s always the less desireable behaviour like banging.

He really seems to like a “noise reward”.  Of course, repetitive noises and electronic toys upset *my* sensory issues so we have a real dilemma there…

I didn’t get a photo of the tantrums.  It kind of felt wrong to have a child lying on the floor or crawling under and behind furniture to chuck a tantrum and me just stand there and take photos of it.  You’ll just have to imagine ;-).


Like I said, most of these photos were taken within about twenty mins.  Maybe a little longer considering we stayed at the Big Red Car for twenty mins.  But these behaviours didn’t display over the course of a day or even a few hours…  This was a normal (ish) hour of a normal (ish) outing for us.

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