Dubbo RSL hosts autism sensory workshop

A deeper understanding: Fay Goodwin, of Gilgandra Public School, Nelle Frances, educator, and Stacey Walsh, from Bourke, at the Sensory Detective autism workshop. Photo: Belinda Soole

A deeper understanding: Fay Goodwin, of Gilgandra Public School, Nelle Frances, educator, and Stacey Walsh, from Bourke, at the Sensory Detective autism workshop. Photo: Belinda Soole

Dubbo parents, teachers, community support workers and carers have gained a better understanding of autism after undertaking a workshop by special needs educator Nelle Frances.

The Sensory Detective workshop held in Dubbo gave participants real life examples of what life may be like for people with autism. One of the examples involved half of the participants shining torches, blowing whistles and making loud noses to the other participants.

“When the brain is under stress from all of that it loses the ability to do simple tasks. Some people felt emotional, running away and hitting me,” she said.

“So kids on the autism spectrum have meltdowns and do all of those things. Sensory overwhelm leads to meltdowns. It’s not them being naughty or badly behaved, its because the whole world is too bright, too loud too fast.”

Ms Frances said the day was about education.

“Autism is a neurological difference … the brain operates different. Its not a defect. It doesn't need to be cured or fixed its just a different way of thinking,” she said.

“Because the (autism) numbers are increasing the prevalence numbers are rising. We all need to be understanding how those brains work, otherwise we can misconstrue body language, words or others.”

Nelle’s son was diagnosed with autism 16 years ago and at the time she was frustrated with the lack of information and support strategies available, so she developed a training workshop that provides a blend of educational strategies and parenting techniques.

She has been delivering this renowned workshop for over a decade, with a particular focus on regional and remote Australia.