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Sensory vocabulary touch and pressure taste and texture

This month’s blog is about the need for sensory assessments and the need for understanding and support with sensory issues. There are many people far more qualified than me to explain the importance of understanding sensory processing and sensory needs for the people we support. For people with an interest in finding out more, the work of Olga Bogdashina is well worth a read and looking at training from the Sensory Integration Network. Amy Stevens’ website ‘A Chatter of Magpies’ is a useful resource too.

I have been interested in the perceptions of the people I work with and found that for some people self-report can be more accurate with visual support than just spoken accounts; whether that’s accessible information, communication aids or a talking mat. Starting with the person’s own view is a vital aspect of gathering information about sensory experiences.

All of us understand the idea of strong preferences or strong dislikes, in my case I can find the smell of some perfumes and scented candles enjoyable whereas the texture of yoghurt or fatty meat is utterly repulsive to me.

Many of us can articulate these preferences and reactions and, if we are lucky, the issues we have end there just by us expressing it or avoiding unpleasant experiences. For some people perhaps with Autism or dementia for example, sensory processing differences have a huge impact on their daily life and for this reason we need to understand and adapt to these needs.

I have worked with an Occupational Therapist in mental health and a number of other professionals to develop a starting point for discussion about the person’s feelings about differing sensory stimuli. We have two new vocabulary sets - Touch and Pressure and Taste and Texture now available on our website, in the online shop. Using the sets prior to introducing strategies or a sensory diet could provide baseline information in an accessible format which can then be compared at future intervals to look at progress.

As ever we would very much appreciate your feedback and suggestions on the resources and any comments about how you have used them.

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