Today we did something, as a family, that we never thought we’d be able to do!
We went to the circus!
The circus? I know, you must think I am crazy!
The crowds, the dark, the bright lights, the flashes, the loud noises….
It is a place that people with sensory processing difficulties fear.
We are all born with senses, and gradually begin to understand how to use them as we age.
Our senses work to help us make sense of the world around us.
Sometimes people have difficulty interpreting the information our senses are providing.
In some people the brain is wired differently and the senses provide too little, or too much information.
Imagine the lights being so bright you temporarily lose your vision.
Imagine falling over inanimate objects, or walking into walls, because you can’t process where your limbs are.
Imagine the noise of a light buzzing sounding like a jet engine roaring.
Imagine your ears being so sensitive that you can’t hear what the person next to you is saying because someone is whispering on the other side of the room.
Imagine the smell of freshly made popcorn feeling like it is physically burning your nose.
Imagine coloured lights flashing distorting your sight….
…imagine all this happening together.
Often it results in an emotional and behavioural response, known as a meltdown.
Shouting, hitting, screaming, biting, dropping to the floor, bolting, rocking….all the result of too much sensory input.
As a family, we spend our time avoiding situations that challenge sensory difficulties to avoid distress and meltdowns.
Going to a Circus has always been top of the ‘not to attempt’ list simply because of the deluge of sensory information.
It is a meltdown waiting to happen.
Or so I thought…..
The Paulos Circus had come to town.
With the help of Cornwall Accessible Activities Program (CAAP) a special sensory needs show was designed for people with Autism and other needs.
The show was overhauled and adjusted so people with sensory needs could enjoy it too.
The small changes made enabled us to feel our child could attend a fun day out;
We were provided with an overview and running order of the acts, as to help the children know what was coming next.
We were provided with photos of the acts.
The performers had learnt some Makaton signs to communicate with the audience.
The lights in the big top were left on, as many fear the dark and the unpredictability it brings.
The music was kept low, at a manageable level.
There were no flashing lights that may have been overwhelming.
Families did not have to worry if their children screamed out with excitement or got out of their seats during the show.
The whole atmosphere was homely and relaxed.
The Paulos Circus was amazing, an excellent show from start to finish.
The show flowed really well, no waiting for acts to start, which we all know our children find difficult!
The staff were friendly and able to cope with a constant bombardment of ‘absolutely need to know’ questions from the inquisitive children.
The work they put in to make a show for our children to attend was just outstanding, and for that we are truly grateful.
Without people like Paulos, our children would never get to experience the wonder and amazement that the circus provides.
The Paulos Circus, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
You have provided enjoyment and excitement that I have never seen before in my girl, and memories that will last a lifetime.