Making Sense – a sensory project

Making Sense is SEE Foundation’s special service for people with complex sensory and communication needs.

Making Sense is a project that aims to identify the individual form of each person’s primary, sensory expression to increase both their understanding and our understanding of their interaction with both us and the world. It helps us then use that information to communicate.

“Every day we receive information from our senses: when we walk down the street, visit the market, eat a meal, when we get up in the morning and wash and dress. We learn about our world through our senses, and by interacting with our environment. Children explore and play, and in doing so they learn about their surroundings; for example, they find out what things hurt them or burn them, what things are fragile and need to be handled delicately, what things can be eaten and what can be played with. “As a result of physical, sensory or intellectual disabilities, and/or living in non-stimulating surroundings, many people with disabilities have not had the same opportunity to explore and interact with their environment. (Research into) the impact of an impoverished environment (has shown that) children were observed to be ‘almost completely silent, engaging in self-stimulating behaviours such as rocking, scratching, staring at their fingers’.”

[Susan Fowler 1997, p 15].

Making Sense – sensory needs

Have you ever seen an elephant in a zoo? They will rock back and forth for long periods of time. Rocking back and forth provides them with the sensory stimulation that’s missing because they are in a confined area with little activities or distractions.

Imagine, if you will, being unable to see a rose, or go to that rose and smell its perfume and feel its thorns?

Without adequate and appropriate sensory ‘feedback’, a child who is born with vision and/or hearing and/or communication deficits will often, in adulthood, have developed their own (and sometimes socially unacceptable) way of stimulating their senses, like rocking back and forth.

If rocking back and forth indicates that the person is agitated or distressed, we recognise it and try to resolve their problem. 

By identifying these needs SEE Foundation uniquely tailors activities to meet the sensory needs of the individual.



Your donation or bequest will allow SEE Foundation to broaden the possibilities for that child or adult through the identification of their unique sensory needs, and to use that knowledge to enhance their ability to communicate with us, and us with them. 

To make a donation now




Our sensory room

Sensory rooms are popular in our sector, but it isn’t as simple as putting ‘things’ into a sensory room and allowing people to experience them. There has to be an understanding of each person’s individual sensory ‘identity’ – some of us prefer pressure, some prefer light, some prefer sound; some of us dislike all of those experiences. Making Sense uses assessments to identify each person’s sensory likes and dislikes.

We use this understanding to:

  • Provide comforting sensory experiences
  • Avoid unpleasant sensory experiences, and
  • Generally increase opportunities to broaden the sensory range of our clients.

Through understanding a person’s likes and dislikes, we can use those stimuli to ‘read’ what they might be trying to say without the use of words.

How our clients have benefited

We’ve been applying this intense understanding of each individual and it’s brought about a significant change in our approach. Although it’s popular in the industry, we no longer use the phrase ‘behaviours of concern’.

Instead, we prefer to talk about someone being ‘distressed, agitated or frustrated’ and we respond to that person’s individual needs. This has resulted, over several years, in an 80% reduction of ‘behaviours of concern’ – or as we like to say, an 80% reduction in distress, agitation and frustration.

Would you like to know more?

We would absolutely love to share information about our approach, as well as give you a tour of the facilities and the sensory room. Connect with us in whatever manner is easiest for you!

SEE how we can help

Donations & Bequests
Useful links & Forms
Making Sense
Work With Us

Our people are happier

SEE Foundation is proud in providing services to people with All-Abilities and Support needs.

Through our commitment and focus on the person’s individual and specific needs, we have achieved a record 80% reduction in the distress, agitation and frustration of our clients.

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