What does it mean to be an autistic person with sensory processing difficulties?
How do sensory aspects of an environment impact autistic people?
How can we help people learn about what sensory processing difficulties are like?
These are the questions we are asking at Sensory Street, a research project at the University of Oxford. Our Wellcome Trust funded project aims to work with the autistic community in creating an immersive event to help people learn more about sensory processing difficulties in a creative and interesting way.
What are Sensory Processing Difficulties?
Everyone processes sensory information differently. Some people may be over-sensitive or under-sensitive to certain sounds, smells, tastes or sights. In certain situations this may be distressing or make it harder to complete everyday tasks. For example, people with sensory processing difficulties may crave strong sensory input or find it more difficult to balance and coordinate their movements. They might find it harder to interpret the differences between stimuli such as sounds or tastes.
See our page on Sensory Processing Difficulties for more information.
Why do we want to learn more about sensory processing difficulties?
Learning more about sensory processing in autism was identified as one of the top-10 research priorities by the autism community in a survey by Autistica in 2014. By helping people to understand sensory processing difficulties, we hope to make the world a more autism-friendly place.
How have we learnt more about Sensory Processing Difficulties in autistic people?
We are particularly interested in learning more about what sensory aspects of different public places (e.g. shops, restaurants and hairdressers) most affect autistic people. During 2021 we posted a series of questions on our social media pages and ran a series of focus groups with autistic people to learn more about their sensory experiences. We have begun to analyse the results of these and write up our findings. We will use this information to help us create our immersive event in 2022.
This year we are planning on working with autistic adults to support the creation of our immersive event and we look forward to seeing as many people there as possible.
From the 14-16th of July we are holding an event at PEARL in Dagenham. We are working with our partner Sensory Spectacle to design an immersive experience based on the descriptions of difficulties faced by autistic individuals. The event aims to help inform people who come into day-to-day contact with autistic people about sensory processing differences. Free tickets will be available soon.