Bring on the mud!!

As a mother with an autistic child, our co-founder Jenny Bailey is delighted to share this.

“This is so wonderful and really it confirms what we already know. Children NEED the outside and the freedom to explore. Thank you Svetlana Robertson for allowing us to share and for writing a thought provoking and fabulous piece. Bring on the mud!!”

NO YOU DON’T NEED A SENSORY BEDROOM for your child. Seriously, you don’t.

Diagnosed or suspected autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions, behaviour issues and so on. What a great business selling all sorts of ‘special’ things to frustrated parents. ‘Special needs toys’, ‘sensory toys’ are advertised almost like a prescription kind of thing.

Guess what – a bedroom is where your child needs to wind down, rest and sleep. It’s not a disco, nor is it a gadget shop. None of those bells and whistles or flashing lights are needed either for sleep or during the day, and will be overstimulating. You might even find that your child’s sleep improves when you got rid of all those.

Well, OK, you can keep one lamp with a red bulb – there’s some evidence that red light might be helpful to wind down at bedtime.

You do want the best for your child. I have seen many mums showing off their latest version of ‘the sensory room’ – and even more mums saying they are jealous that they can’t do this kind of thing due to lack of space or not being able to afford all the shiny stuff.

This shiny stuff is being sold as a substitute for how to feel like a good parent. Making you feel happy for a moment or two, thinking that now you bought the latest shiny object, you have done the best for your child.

And yet, quite the opposite is true. Your child does not need all those latest tech gadgets, shiny and loud bells and whistles. By the way, he or she doesn’t really need Spiderman/Elsa curtains either. You can throw the ready made plastic tent out, too.

How did society ever survive just a few years ago without all those things?

What your child needs is feeling safe, play, interaction, movement and nature. All the real things. Those with additional needs and various struggles, need that even more. Not be kept in the ‘sensory room’ with hundreds of toys, flashlights, sensory lamps and other weird ‘sensory’ gadgets. This stuff does give a boost – to the economy of those countries where it is cheaply produced. Not to your child’s development.

The brain changes and develops in response to the environment it is in – the kind of environment you create, will create a brain and a child matching that environment.

If you really want to boost your child’s brain development – there are better things, and they are free. Long walks in nature whatever the weather, playing in the mud. Yes. Mud. Very sensory enriching and completely free.

Written by Svetlana Robertson, BSc (Hons) Psychology, Child Neurodevelopment Consultant