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 are we going to learn 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.
Click here to find out more about how we are planning on working with autistic adults and children and how you can get involved.
Once we have learnt about autistic people’s experiences of public places, we will be working with our partners to create ‘sensory street’, an immersive experience where shops, hairdressing salons and leisure places are transformed into sensory experiences based on 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 difficulties. We will be working with Sensory Spectacle to create our immersive event alongside our other collaborators.
For more information about immersive learning click here