Teachers, parents, health workers and community members experienced a lesson like no other at the Sensory Detective Workshop for autism training in Mount Isa.
On Wednesday at the Ibis Hotel, special needs educator Nelle Frances presented her renowned lecture on managing children on the autistic spectrum.
Ms Frances has more than 16 years experience with autism including caring for her now adult son Sam, who has Asperger's Syndrome.
She developed the workshop in close collaboration with Sam and her husband Michael, and the three of them have fine tuned it over the last decade.
The interactive component of the workshop is trademarked, and involves participants being overwhelmed by stimuli, from touch to taste, smell, sound, and light.
People think they should just be able to get over it, suck it up, move on. By getting people to experience that themselves, it’s very powerful.Nelle Frances, special needs educator and Sensory Detective Workshop trainer.
“What we’re trying to get across is that senses that are part of normal life such as a smell or a taste or someone touching you unexpectedly can be overwhelming to the system for kids on the autism spectrum.”
“People think they should just be able to get over it, suck it up, move on. By getting people to experience that themselves it’s very powerful and that changes the way they think about people with autism and view their behaviour,” Ms Frances said.
Ms Frances believes that all behaviour is a form of communication and that for those on the spectrum, all behaviour is driven by sensory needs.
She also pointed out children with autism have a few extra senses, relating to balance (vestibular system), whole body placement (proprioception), and temperature regulation difficulties.
“Another one that is not always mentioned is referred mood. Individuals with autism pick up on moods and feelings of those around them.
Although it is commonly known that people with Asperger’s have trouble picking up on social cues, Ms Frances said this does not mean they have no empathy.
“They might not be able to read your facial expression or your body language but they definitely sense what time of person you are,” Ms Frances said.
For more information and future workshop dates visit www.aspergerchild.com