Circular tables surrounded by seated people, listening to the keynote speaker at the Send Help conference.

I was thrilled to be invited to the SEND Help conference in Chester Le Street this year. The team celebrated their first in person event since the pandemic, and what a day it was!

The keynote by Emma Parker was insightful and inspiring. She has such a amazing breadth of knowledge of the SEND system. When she finished speaking, I don’t think anyone made a sound. We were all in awe of her engaging and passionate speech!

I presented a workshop on Sensory Processing. This is one of my favourite workshops to run! It’s engaging, interactive and I learn something new every time.

Karen is presenting a workshop to a room of seated participants. The screen behind her says Sensory Processing.

Sensory Processing is something that we all need to be aware of in our classrooms. We all have different sensory preferences, and there can be different levels of tolerance within those preferences.

As part of the workshop, I give out post it notes and ask participants to make a note for themselves of any sensory likes or dislikes they may notice. It’s so interesting to hear participants who may come in thinking ‘this applies to my learners and not me’ realise that they too have sensory likes and dislikes, and have probably also got their own subconscious management strategies.

Another key part of this workshop is mimicking sensory overload. Now this isn’t for everyone and always comes with a disclaimer and an open invitation to stop/leave and re-join when we are finished. I also don’t claim that this is what every young person experiences. But it is useful to get a bit of an idea of how some of our learners feel every single day. Overwhelmed. Overloaded. Not in a place where learning can take place. I try to engage as many senses as possible, and create an uncomfortable environment for participants to experience that sense of overwhelm. And realise how incompatible this state is with learning.

It’s not all horrible, I promise!

A closer view of Karen presenting to a room of participants.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to my presentation, and thanks once again to the team at SEND Help for the invitation.