Wobbling and fiddling – a manual on sensory sensitivity


& When the Dutch book ‘Wiebelen en friemelen in de klas’(translation editor Wobbling and fiddling in class) – about the influence of sensory processing sensitivity on learning was published, my heart skipped a beat. Finally a book that would create more understanding at school for sensory sensitive children. I myself was a highly sensitive child who could not count on any understanding for my sensitivity. The older I became, the more was written on this topic and the more obvious it became that one out of five (!) seems to be (highly) sensitive. Meanwhile I have also become a mother to a highly sensitive strong willed child. This made me study more about highly sensitivity and related topics and researches. I noticed a post on Facebook stating the arrival of Wiebelen en Friemelen Thuis (transl. Wobbling and fiddling at home) about the influence of sensory sensitivity processing on growing up. Again my heart skipped a beat. With this book many parents would become able to understand their child at home. My parents had consciously chosen to live in a village surrounded by nature so our childhood would happen outdoors as much as possible. Playing outside to release our energy or just to be outside to recharge. When one of our parents had a busy day we could get jumpy. As an adult and as a parent I experience the same. I start to sing the musical scale in high notes or just literally throw out a high note. It releases and reliefs. As a momprenesse I always create time and space every week to visit the gym often to keep my sensory balance healthy. At home we use a sensory meter. ‘At the moment I am red, please give me some space to become green again.’ ‘Oh I see you are red now, what do you need to become green again?’

What is sensory processing?

In a nutshell sensory processing means that our senses send our stimuli to the brain, which filters these stimuli in order to create a respond or not. So the stimuli are registered, prioritized, when the stimuli is important enough it will be passed on to the cerebral cortex, which makes you become aware of the stimuli and a reaction follows. This can be a conscious or unconscious respond. So sensory processing is the capacity to register and process information from our body and environment through the senses and create an appropriate respond to it.

Four sensory profiles

I always recommend parents to have a sensory profile made for themselves as well for their child. A sensory profile is an analysis and description of the over- and under-stimulations a child can have within the field of sensory processing. Obtaining insight into such a profile can already provide answers to a lot of the questions you might have. In this book four sensory profiles are given by means of the behaviour of children. This way you can recognize the types easily. Examples are given of the behaviour of an under-stimulated active child, an under-stimulated passive child, an over-stimulated active child and an over-stimulated passive child. A questionnaire with familiar situations can reveal which type you are.

Choices made based on sensory processing

The man in our houses is an under-stimulated person and often searches for more and stronger stimuli because he lacks them. His stimuli aren’t always registered strongly enough, which makes that he forgets easily and that planning is not his strongest point. He himself doesn’t consider this to be a problem, he remains calm and is flexible, which makes him effortlessly a procrastinator. It doesn’t matter where he sleeps, a warm blanket and a good pillow will do just fine for him. Our sun and I are over-stimulated. We do our best to avoid stimuli and chose for more subtle stimuli, because we can experience stimuli as intense and unpleasant. We like to be able to control the stimuli around us. Taking care of everything and planning is something I love to do, because it is comforting to get stimuli I know. Dealing with familiar and expected stimuli makes life easier for us. We like to have a relatively calm environment because it has fewer stimuli and we can recharge ourselves when we are over-stimulated. We love to withdraw and be on our own. We love the comfort as that means soft and subtle stimuli. Unlike my partner I am not able to sleep when the bed sheets are wrinkled and the duvet cover has a rough feel. I am used to my own matrass and bed sheets, to the temperature and the darkness in my room. I don’t easily sleep elsewhere. There are also people who respond neutrally to sensory stimuli. In general they are not bothered by too many or too few stimuli because they are able to filter them well. Therefore what stimuli their environment has is less irrelevant to them. They can deal with all sorts of amounts of stimuli. To them it doesn’t matter how a matrass or a sheet feels. They can sleep in any decent bed.

Active or passive way to a sensory balance

We use the trampoline to find our sensory balance. The under-stimulated person uses the trampoline to get the stimuli and the over-stimulated person uses the trampoline to soften the stimuli. This book provides tips, strategies and tools for every sensory profile to find a sensory balance. Have you ever noticed adults and children with a hoodie over their head? It’s an amazing way for over-stimulated people to soften the stimuli. Ever heard of companies using a lemon scent to stimulate productivity? Olfactory (scent) stimuli to get into action.

Family sensory profile and network sensory profile

Ideal to create more understanding for each personal and unique sensory processing, is the option to create a family sensory profile and a network sensory profile. In our home we know now we have two cats (over-stimulated active) and one bear (under-stimulated passive). With this book we have learned to understand what really is going on – in a sensory way- when one of us responds in a certain way. The network sensory profile doesn’t only come in handy when your child has a playdate at another child’s place, goes to school or has a sleepover. It also provides many solutions for adults, for example in the office.

The book Wiebelen and Friemelen is for now only available in Dutch.


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