Monthly Archives: January 2012

What I think it might be like…

I was asked about a month ago to do interview about working with special needs for a project someone was working on. As I was finishing it up tonight I started to think hard about one of the questions and I got on the thought of some of the behaviours some of the people I work with have. I started to think about some of the stereotypes that people have about people with special needs having behaviours. I’ve been asked many times questions about if my work is safe, if every single time the person I’m working with doesn’t agree with me they hit me, if people have behaviours like the one in Rain Man when they’re trying to get on the airplane all of the time, I get asked why people with special needs are so angry all of the time, why can’t they just tell you what’s wrong. People have a lot of misconceptions. I do my best to explain that people with special needs aren’t angry all the time, that they’re not dangerous, that they’re not behavioural all of the time and more than often they aren’t having behaviours or having an outburst because they want to. As I struggled with answering a question in this interview I decided to try and explain it through what I think it might be like for a person with special needs to be experiencing. This is what I came up with:

Imagine that you can’t talk and you have Autism and with Autism the individuals senses are often heightened so a noise that a person without heightened senses doesn’t even really hear may irritate the heck out of a person with Autism. So you’re non-verbal and you’re in class and the person sitting next to you is using their pencil in a different way and it’s all you can hear and all you can focus on. You want the person to stop using their pencil for a bit or you want to to move so that you can focus and your head stops hurting but you can’t talk. You try and get up to leave but your teacher says that it’s work time right now and you need to sit down. You sit back down but the kid next to you is still using their pencil like that and it’s really hurting your ears. You need to find a way to get their attention so you slam your hand on the table. Your teachers hear and see you but they don’t understand why you’re banging your hand on the table so they tell you not to do that in class and to continue with your work. You are becoming very frustrated and your head is killing you because of the noise. Soon your other senses begin to heighten, the lights in the classroom are too bright and someone is using a marker and the smell is very strong. You need to get out of the classroom to a safe quiet place so you get up to leave again but your teacher tells you that you need to stay seated, you can’t handle it so you go for the cause of the issues and take the pencil from the other students hand, in your confusion and frustration you used too much force and hurt your friend by accident. The teachers are shouting at you and you want to tell them you didn’t mean to but you can’t make the words come out. All the shouting is making your head hurt even more, you start to rock back and forth and you put your hands on your ears to try and stop all of the senses and make your head stop pounding. A teacher comes up behind you but you don’t realize because of everything going on in your head. They try and take your arm but it scares you and you hit their hand away. You didn’t want to hurt them, you were just scared. This makes the staff not very happy, you try and tell them what’s going on but nothing is working. They finally take you to a quiet room where you can focus but all of the senses are too much and you try to get them to calm down but it won’t work. The only way you think you can get everything to stop is to bang everything right out of you. You look around the the room and you see a table. You walk over to it and you bang your head, over and over and over again. Your worker has told you how sad it makes her to see you hurt yourself like that but you don’t know what else to do. You bang and bang and bang and they try their hardest to stop you but they can’t. Once you feel like all of the noises and lights and smells and finally gone you get up and go sit down. You want to tell everyone why all of that just happened but the words won’t come out. You know that hugs sometimes make people feel better though so you walk up to your teacher and give her a big hug and she says that it’s okay for you to go back to classroom with the rest of the kids now but you’re a little worried that the pencil might upset you again so you walk in slowly and you see that everyone has changed activities and the class is now watching a movie. You find your seat and try your hardest to show your friend that you didn’t want to hurt them and then watch the movie with the rest of the class.

Through my experiences of working with people with special needs some of whom are behavioural this is what I could come up. I’m not sure if that’s actually what goes on inside of someone’s mind but it’s the best guess I’ve got.



Nick’s Dragonfly Playground!

Hola people,

As mentioned earlier this week I am going to be visiting some accessible parks and then writing about them on here because I found it hard to find good information about local sensory/accessible park online. So here we go. The first park I visited was Nick’s Dragonfly Playground. Nick’s park is at Southend Community Centre which is 200 Clair Road in Guelph. I will always be a little bit biased about this particular playground as my family has a history with it. My dad worked with Nick’s parents so I knew him growing up. Those red accessible swings that you see in pretty much all of the playgrounds in Guelph were donated in Nick’s memory by his parents and the foundation they started… I remember the first swing dedication clear as day. Anyways, they eventually opened a fully accessible playground in his memory and it’s a pretty wonderful thing.



       This is the entrance to the park.. also I should mention that I re-visited the park in the winter so obviously it would be a little different looking in the warmer weather but still the same amount of wonderfulness.



Nick’s legacy


This is what you see when you first walk through the entrance. This is the junior side of the park for the smaller people. As you can see there is an accessible swing.


IMG_4622              IMG_4649

This was my attempt at showing that the ground at the playground are rubber and not pebbles or anything. This makes it great for wheelchair pushing and it’s much easier to walk on.



         This is the called “Nick’s Place”. It’s for the smaller users of the playground. Easy to get up on and lots of fun.

IMG_4624               IMG_4625 

A couple more shots of Nick’s Place.

IMG_4626 IMG_4627 IMG_4628


IMG_4631 IMG_4633

The sensory garden area. This is a great little area full of different sensory panels. It’s pretty fun.


This is the fun sand box with diggers and a sand toy thing.


The larger park that is fully wheelchair accessible.


The sway fun element of the park. Lots of fun for all ages and abilities.

IMG_4648 IMG_4645

The larger part of the park. Another accessible swing. You can see the wheel chair ramp that goes through the whole playground.


The dinosaur part of the park. You can dig for dino bones in the sand box. A very cool part of the park.

IMG_4638         IMG_4637



 The accessible ramps at the playground.

All in all I love this park to death. It’s one of my favourite accessible parks ever. It’s a lot of fun and I would recommend 100% bringing people of all ages here. It will be a very enjoyable and fun visit.