Greene County ESC News Article

Autism Advocate Speaks at GCESC in Support of Families

Kim Clairy

GCESC hosted staff, caregivers and parents for a presentation by Kim Clairy, an Autistic Occupational Therapist, who provided valuable information and experiential insight for educators and families. During the hands-on training, Kim shared her personal experiences and professional expertise as she taught the basics about sensory processing challenges and how these challenges or differences affect learning and daily functioning. Attendees learned to identify possible sensory challenges and evidenced based-strategies to address them; such as, creating sensory friendly environments and how to individualize sensory supports for students.

“It was a very dynamic session and I feel like I learned a lot,” said one staff member. “It is good to hear from people who have a first-hand account of what it is like to live with autism. It was very interesting and gave me a fresh perspective on some of the students that I work with.”

According to Clairy, the brain’s job is to keep us alive, to keep us safe from harm. Life is a sensory experience; everything we do is related to our senses. How the brain processes sensory information coming from inside and outside of the body influences how safe one feels in their mind, body, environment, and interactions with others. Sensory processing challenges and/or differences can lead to a perpetual state of fight, flight, or freeze without adequate support. This can affect every aspect of functioning. Research indicates up to 90% of autistic individuals experience differences and/or challenges with sensory processing. It is essential for those who work with autistic individuals to understand sensory processing and how to support those with sensory differences and challenges.

Additionally, Clairy discussed the importance of teaching interoception; which is the sense that tells us how we know what we feel and what to do about it (am I hungry, angry, hurt, etc?). Several examples on how teaching interoception were shared.

Several GCESC staff members provided complimentary childcare during the evening parent event that included engaging gross and fine motor activities and free play opportunities.

“This was an awesome presentation,” said a parent of an autistic child. “Her honesty, feedback and the live examples were excellent and very helpful.”

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