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- author Jackie French

Thursday 6 July 2023

Guest Post: Prasha Sooful on Her Inspirational Writing Journey & Sensory Seeking

My inspiration is my daughter. She's now five years old but when the book, My Brain Is Magic, was written when she was two, we just started her assessments with medical professionals for her neurodiversity diagnosis. 

I wanted to give her an easy way to communicate her sensory needs to me so that I could help her to regulate and fulfill those needs. 

Even though I am a health professional and I work in health, it was difficult for me to hear about her being described in clinical terms, as I imagine it would be for any parent. 

The standardised tests can be difficult for a parent to watch and to learn that their child is not meeting the age requirements for certain things.

I wanted to remind myself (and Maiya) that everyone processes information in different ways and that should be celebrated. I wanted to focus on how she learns and processes information from the environment and show it in a positive light. 

As a two-year old she had limited vocabulary, but all kids that age are familiar with animals, so by using animals, children can verbalise and easily express their sensory needs to grown-ups who can then help them to meet those needs. For example, I feel like an octopus, I want to touch things or I feel like a lion, I want to be loud today. 

So, what is a Sensory Seeker? They are individuals who have a strong desire for sensory input, such as movement, touch, and sound. They may seek out intense sensory experiences and engage in behaviours such as jumping, spinning, or touching objects with different textures, so I wanted to write something that helps parents and educators to provide those inputs in a safe and meaningful way.

Educators might not be aware that a child has additional sensory needs, so the book provides a way for kids to communicate this. The inside jacket cover has a poster for parents/ schools / teachers to use for kids to express what sensory mood they are in.

I wanted a fun story and also a resource that is easy for parents and educators to pull out with really practical ideas to incorporate in daily routines.

I hope that My Brain is Magic will be an empowering addition to the growing literature on neurodiversity, offering a positive perspective on sensory-seeking behaviour.

All the strategies in book are based on my own experiences with a sensory seeker.

Here are some strategies that can be helpful for sensory seekers:

1.        Provide sensory-rich environments: Create a sensory-rich environment that includes a variety of textures, colours, and sounds. This can include sensory bins with different materials, such as sand or rice, as well as toys with different textures or sounds.

2.        Offer opportunities for movement: Provide opportunities for movement, such as jumping on a trampoline, swinging on a swing, or playing with a therapy ball. This can help sensory seekers fulfill their need for movement and sensory input.

3.        Use weighted items: Weighted blankets, vests, or stuffed animals can provide deep pressure input that can be calming for sensory seekers.

4.        Provide fidget toys: Fidget toys, such as stress balls or squishy toys, can provide a tactile sensory experience that can help sensory seekers regulate their sensory input.

5.        Provide breaks: Sensory seekers may become overwhelmed if they are exposed to too much sensory input. Offer breaks and opportunities to engage in calming activities, such as reading or drawing.

6.        Seek professional support: If the sensory seeking behaviours are impacting the individual's ability to participate in daily activities or causing distress, seek support from an occupational therapist or other professional who specialises in sensory integration. They can provide strategies and activities to help the individual regulate their sensory input and improve their functioning.

My Brain is Magic 
was released in April 2023 to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, to recognise and celebrate the experiences of neurodiverse people.

It was beautifully and colourfully illustrated by an artist from Mumbai and published by Soaring Kite Books in 2023. What I love about Soaring Kite is their dedication to inclusivity and their mission to provide a platform for diverse authors and illustrators from around the world to share their stories.

Prasha Sooful is a clinical audiologist and educator with master’s degrees in Audiology and Global Learning. She has worked clinically and in research and education for 17 years. Born in South Africa, she now lives in Australia with her serene husband, an energetic toddler, a lazy German Shepherd, and an ever-growing book collection.

Prasha can be found at her profile and Instagram.