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 I do not know how he came to acquire the nickname Egg but ever since he came along that’s what my youngest son has been called. I run The Sensory Projects www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk (which should now really be called The Sensory Projects and Sons!) My work focuses on people with profound disabilities and sensory differences, but my son’s advice will apply to your work too.

In this series of articles we are going to share his insights with you, if you are keen for more there is an ever growing collection on my Facebook profile: come and make friends. www.Facebook.com/JoannaGraceTSP 

This is article 9 out of a series of 10! To view the others click here. 

I cannot remember where I first heard it but the phrase “Active toys make passive children, passive toys make active children” rang true with me. Until recently the toys were all stored in six boxes downstairs on a kind of bookshelf arrangement, and the bedroom was kept for clothes and bedding. Since Egg’s arrival we have shifted the rooms around and the boys are sharing one big room. I swear the toys are multiplying, I don’t know how! But we still have relatively few toys when compared to our peers. This is not because we cannot afford them (they’re all finds from charity shops anyway) or because we are mean and do not want our children to have fun. It’s quite simply because we do not play with them. Pop by, you’re far more likely to find us playing with a cardboard box, or the two metres of guttering pipe which was my older boy’s first birthday present (still as played with six years on as it was the year he got it).

Having lots of toys can be stressful to a child, it’s like an adult in an office with too much work to do in their in-tray, as Egg explains:
(But before he does, allow me to get off my chest, that we did not move house. I packed the entirety of our house into boxes with a baby on my hip in anticipation of a move only weeks away. 7 months down the line it all fell through and we are very much staying put!)

*Note this post mentions people becoming overwhelmed by sensory experiences, if you are struggling with behaviour in your setting and think it might have a sensory cause consider studying “Exploring the Impact of the Senses on Behaviour” with The Sensory Projects online college www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk/online-college 

We might be moving house. Ordinarily my toys are kept in different small boxes, each with just a few toys in it. Mummy offers me the toys from one box for a day, or a week.

Because we are moving she has dumped them all into one box. It has no lid, so I can get to all my toys. Great!

But often it ends up like this. I pick up the toy, other toys pull on my attention, I pick up another toy. Play becomes like work and I have too much on my plate. I am overwhelmed. I cannot pick them all up. I cannot focus. Play is no longer fun.

When I only had six toys or even one, I played more. Research shows the less toys children have the more they play with them.

My mummy grew up on a boat, where there wasn’t space for lots of toys, and my grandma would bag up half her toys and hide them for months, then take away the toys that were out and swap them around. She still remembers how exciting it was to re-meet her toys.

In our new house, as I grow, my toys will be back in their separate boxes and I will be able to get to them myself. They will not all be out. My favourites will stay all the time but others will come and go in a rotate-a-toy dance. Mummy is looking forward to this!

(These words first appeared on Jo’s Facebook profile you are welcome to send her a friend request to watch out for more insight www.Facebook.com/JoannaGraceTSP)
Joanna provides online and in person training relating to sensory engagement and sensory differences, look up www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk/online-college for more information.

To view a list of her books visit www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk/books  Follow Jo on social media to pick up new sensory insights, you’ll find her at: Twitter, www.Facebook.com/JoannaGraceTSP and www.Linkedin/In/JoannaGraceTheSensoryProjects

About the author:

Joanna Grace is an international Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker and founder of The Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted, Joanna has taught in
mainstream and special school settings, connecting with pupils of all ages and abilities. To inform her work, Joanna draws on her own experience from her private and professional life as well as taking in all the information she can from the research archives. Joanna’s private life includes family members with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions and time spent as a registered foster carer for children with profound disabilities.

Joanna has published four practitioner books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms: Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory Stories for Children and Teens”, “Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings”, “Sharing Sensory Stories and Conversations with People with Dementia” and “The Subtle Spectrum”. Plus three inclusive sensory story children’s books: “Spike and Mole”, “Voyage to Arghan” and “Ernest and I” which all sell globally and her son has recently become the UK’s youngest published author with his book, “My Mummy is Autistic” which was foreworded by Chris Packham.

Joanna is a big fan of social media and is always happy to connect with people via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Website: thesensoryprojects.co.uk  

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