Sensory Processing and Church Accessibility - video now available
The video from our online event 'Sensory Processing and Church Accessibility' with Dr Naomi Graham of Growing Hope is now available on YouTube (@TTRChangesLives): just click the play button on the 'Watch on YouTube' video below.
We were delighted to welcome Naomi to speak, as she took us through a whole range of practical and thoughtful suggestions for using the senses in church activities, and well as including everyone's different sensory processing strategies.
If you don't have time to watch it all (talk 25 mins. questions 18 mins), then below the video link is a summary of what Naomi said.
Here are the resources Naomi mentions in her talk, plus some extra thoughts about sensory processing from the questions submitted in the session...
- Follow this link to download a PDF of Naomi's powerpoint presentation
- Extra top tips following the questions we didn't get to
- About me form for church
Summary of the talk: Making Sense of our Senses
Naomi explained that Growing Hope works with children with additional needs. She shared how everyone likes to start the day with a sense of calm. However, people with additional needs may find it difficult to find the calm they need, as they can struggle to process the input from their senses.
Naomi used stories from the Bible and her own experience to explain how God speaks through each of 8 senses – the usual five, plus balance, body awareness, and internal sense – which includes our sense of God. She emphasised the importance of understanding each person’s sensory experience – including children with additional needs in the church – and seeing everyone as Jesus sees them.
Naomi got participants to try sensory processing experiments, such as writing a sentence without your feet touching the floor; these brought alive how much our senses affect us. She explained how particular sensory experiences can be calming or alerting – such as loud or quiet noises, and geometric or irregular patterns. But Naomi explained it’s important to ask each individual what helps them – she shared an ‘about me’ form, that people can fill in with their sensory preferences – such as whether they need a quiet space, or struggle to sit still. We heard how the senses can be used to enhance worship – including the huge boost to concentration created by movement, through ‘body awareness’; as well as the importance of using images and objects as well as words, to help everyone understand.
During the discussion time, people showed enthusiasm about using sensory experiences within their churches, and raised questions which Naomi answered later. A poll of those present showed great support for disability inclusion in church, but there is a great need for sensory processing information and resources, with 80% asking for these. Through the Roof hopes to help with this in future!
Naomi suggested simple tips for churches, including quick wins such as providing ear defenders and pipe cleaners as simple fidget toys. She explained how vital church support can be for families and children with additional needs, including the strong link between trauma and sensory processing issues, with movement and physical activity helping heal and calm. So it is important that we educate the church not to judge people for using fidget toys or moving around. Growing Hope provide free therapy to children with additional needs, as well as supporting parents, carers and siblings. Follow this link to read the story of Growing Hope in Naomi’s blog.
Brenda Murray, one of Through the Roof's new Regional Roofbreaker Co-ordinators who helped facilitate the event, said “We look forward to making connections with all those who attended to ensure people have the resources so everyone can be part of God’s family.”
Disability Awareness Sunday in YOUR Church
Let's celebrate it in every church!
In 2023 we'll be celebrating Disability Awareness Sunday on Sunday 17th September. It'll be a great time for churches to join together across the UK (and even some internationally). If this date is not convenient, please choose an alternative date to suit your church. Any Sunday can be Disability Awareness Sunday!
Here are some free materials to help you plan and celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday at your church...
- We've produced a new pack for 2023, focussing on 'The Unique Gifts God Gives Us' with a short video, a suggested service outline and free postcards available for everyone who attends.
- If this is your first Disabiilty Awareness Sunday, we recommend the initial resource based on the Luke chapter 5 'through the roof' theme which contains a full range of videos, key messages, children's and youth ideas, prayers, and much more.
To download either of these packs, please complete this form:
Find out more about how Through the Roof can help your church include disabled people more by following this link.
Order your Disability Awareness Sunday postcards
There is a postcard linked to ‘The unique gifts God gives us’ theme available to give out to everyone attending the service – with some of Ashleigh’s quotes from the video, and ideas of how people can follow-up after the service.
You can request as many postcards as you would like by filling in the form below. These are free of charge and will be sent out to you by post – so do be sure to get in touch and request them in good time.