A Feast for the Senses: Sensory Play
Natalya Martin is the co-artistic director of FEEL Theatre company and a sensory theatre practitioner with a keen interest in child development and the different theories of play. Today she speaks with us about the importance of sensory play for babies, children and young people with SEND or PMLD.
“The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge”
Dr Maria Montessori
From a very young age I have always been an explorer of the world, always completely obsessed with arts and crafts and all things multi – sensory. I feel very lucky to be able to make my childhood interests and dreams, my adult life reality.
I work with a variety of ages and groups within the community but specialise in working with children and young people with disabilities. At FEEL Theatre, we specialise in creating sensory stories, shows and experiences for and with young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). We continually work on creating new sensory and immersive theatre, community plays and projects. As well as this, we offer a range of different workshops including drama, arts and crafts, sensory/messy play and circus. We aim to give their audience a wide range of experiences that encourage growth in life skills, social skills, personal and emotional development.
I grew up with my younger sister, whom is on the autistic spectrum. She is non – verbal and also has sensory processing difficulties, so a lot (most) of our interaction has always been through play, song, reciting scenes from Disney films, and arts and crafts. I personally believe that as a child (and an adult!), being given the permission to play is crucial in our growth and development as human beings. We are able to learn from our own experiences without the pressure to behave or perform in a specific way.
I have seen first hand the benefits that sensory play can have for people. I worked with a child for a period of weeks who was not keen on or interested in getting their hands messy or sticky. Through giving them the freedom to explore at their own pace, showing them different ways of engaging in messy play but without actually getting messy – which slowly lead up to the point where they immersed themselves in some slime and hand painting! They made their own discoveries and choices throughout this process, they were given their own creative freedom and I hope that this experience will impact on their future engagement when trying new things.
I am passionate about the freedom of creativity and breaking down any barriers that may hinder that freedom. My goal is to make sure everyone, no matter age or ability, gets the chance to live creativity.
Natalya will be delivering Baby Sensory Play sessions at Poplar Union, starting this October. To find out more about FEEL Theatre, and the work they do please visit www.feeltheatre.co.uk