Super Sensory Workshops
Presented by Autism Consulting Service
For Autism, Asperger’s Disorder and PDD-NOS
An incredible, experiential, learning adventure, which actually allows participants to personally experience what it feels like to have autism in an educational setting.
A Super Sensory Session:
Is based on the descriptions of actual experience of people within the autism spectrum
Consists of two parts: an hour of a classroom situation in which the sensory input for four senses (hearing vision, touch and smell has been amplified and
an hour of debriefing in which participants share their feelings and reactions with the rest of the group.
The purpose of these sessions is
to allow participants to actually feel what it’s like to have autism in a typical classroom setting in order to recognize the importance of stimulation on our sensory system
to recognize the role of the different coping skills used by people with autism: repetitive and stereotypic behaviours, overstimulation of one’s senses on purpose, retreat into fantasy, withdrawal and focusing and how these behaviours are used by all human beings
to gain a deeper understanding of the experience of their children, their students or their clients.
The presenters are Gail Gillingham Wylie, MSc., Autism consultant since 1988 and her husband Clayton Wylie.
Quotes from Participants who have experienced The Super Sensory Sessions
“This experience showed me how autism can break your spirit when it comes to learning. All my energy was used to focus and refocus and re-concentrate in order to try and get the information, but it was impossible. There was no way to succeed, so why not give up.”
“Experiencing sensory over stimulation is very different from reading about it in a book or hearing it described by a speaker. I recommend you all do it for then you will understand better. It really was extraordinary. Something all parents and anyone who works with children or adults with autism should go through”
“The ying/yang between pleasure and pain was really present for me. The smoke gave me a headache that cut through my brain like a knife and yet it’s visual beauty gave me something to focus on that wasn’t static in the room. When they chided me for blowing the smoke and told me to stop, I just thought “no”. What are you going to do to me that is worse than what you are already doing to me.”
“The anxiety I was feeling made my stomach hurt. In order to ignore it, I began to focus on the radio and then I realized I started singing along with the songs. Still feel a lot of stress. I needed something to connect with, in the room, and the radio did it for me.”
“I think it is very easy to understand now. My first instinct was to withdraw inside myself. I know why that would be the number one coping strategy - to not want to be part of it. It’s so uncomfortable.”
“This experience allowed me to understand that there is something in the room that my son is reacting to and that his behavior is telling me about this reaction instead of being something inappropriate that I must stop.”
“Then I started to do the hand things like this and my anxiety level just shot through the roof. I started getting really anxious and I couldn’t focus on anything. It all started to drive me crazy. I began to fantasize about taking a sledge hammer to the droaner in the boom box. As I became more aggressive I kept telling myself “no” as I got up too early to take this in to get thrown out. The residual effects of the anxiety and aggression lasted for several hours.”
“My little boy - his first reaction is to hit and boy did that come out in me. I was ready to hit the person next to me just to - I don’t know - cause I was just so - my palms were clammy and I was about to take it out on anybody. I can understand, well not totally, because you never can, but I’m going to go back to school with a total different understanding when I look at that little guy and he gives me one of those sucker punches or something. I can see where he’s coming from. It must be horrible.”
“The most frustrating thing was not being able to be successful at anything. Visually, auditorally, tactilely. You didn’t want to touch. You couldn’t hear. The light hurt. It was totally unsuccessful. Everything was a failure. One of my thought processes throughout the session was how important it is to make them, the children with autism, successful and to know where they’re coming from.”
“I kept telling myself “ I can master this. I can do it. I know I can do it,” and then you fail. I was surprised at how it made me angry. It was making me angry that I couldn’t hear it and succeed. I thought if I listened hard enough I will do it, but it didn’t work.”
“I completely and conscioususly disregarded what they wanted of me. This made me realize that my son is not disregarding me because he is disobeying, or because he doesn’t like me, or because he is manipulating me to do something else. What he is telling me is that my instruction is not relevant to him”.
“The overwhelming stressor for me was feeling that everyone else in the room was doing okay and I wasn’t.”
“The worse for me was the absolute discomfort of having you stand over my shoulder, and I could hear you breathing. Knowing you were there. Being as still as possible. Not caring about the movie, or the burlap or anything. Just not wanting to get into trouble. I didn’t care if I learned anything. I just didn’t want to get into trouble.”
“We knew there was an end. I knew there was an end. There were a couple times when I was like “I’m going to get out of here! I’m going to get out that door.” But I was adult enough that in my head I knew it was coming to an end. I could hold out longer than you could torture me, as much as it was bothering me. Can you imagine never knowing when it is going to stop.”
"This experience has humbled me. I have so much respect for people with autism now. I don’t think that I would be able to live if I had to deal with this all of the time.”
“When you turned off that last tape recorder, a huge weight fell off of my shoulders. It was like there was no more stress. The prickly pen bothered me and the burlap I forgot about, but when you turned off that tape recorder it was like another world. Peace had finally come to this room.”