Saturday 14 April 2018

Sensory Souls Event - Paddle Boarding

Wednesday's at Superhero Headquarters is therapy day for both O and L. Therapy usually involves a one on one session with either an Occupational Therapist or a Speech Therapist for both O and L either at Autism Queensland or at school. However because it is school holidays, we put therapy on hold for the two weeks to give my little superheroes a break and instead we've been doing therapy of a different kind.

Last Wednesday O and L had the opportunity to try paddle boarding at an event that was run by Sensory Souls.

Sensory Souls is a Queensland based organisation that organises, coordinates and conducts sensory friendly events for individuals with special needs both in Queensland and in other states of Australia.

Individuals, both children and adults, with special needs often have sensory processing difficulties and as such they may find it difficult to participant in outings such as going to the movies or to other special events. Sensory Souls evolved from Sensory Santa sessions to sensory friendly movie days to other events such as paddle boarding.

A sensory friendly event typically looks like an outing in which the number of participants is kept to a low number or the noise is low and the lights are dimmed in the venue. By minimising these sensory inputs, the likelihood of a meltdown occurring due to an individual entering into sensory overload is lower.

We've participated in a number of sensory friendly events in Western Australia and every time O and L have had a ball.

During the first week of the school holidays, a paddle boarding event was run not far from where we now live. When I saw the event advertised I thought that it would be the perfect activity for both O and L to participate in.

Not only would they get to try something that neither of them had done before but it would also serve as a therapy activity. Paddle boarding would work on their core strength or their proximal stability, it would be an opportunity for them to work on their gross motor skills and balance or provide some vestibular input. The event would also give both O and L the opportunity to practice their social interaction skills as well! Remember, I can turn any activity into a therapy activity!!

I am so glad that I registered O and L for the paddle boarding because it was a huge hit with the both of them. They had a blast and they've both requested that we find somewhere where they can do paddle boarding again!

Thanks to the generous sponsors of the event, every participant received a back pack prior to the start that contained a beach towel, a cap and a bright blue rashie! O and L were just as excited about the backpack and goodies as they were about the paddle boarding. L thought the rashie was just the best - "I real surfer dude now!" 

The rashie's also assisted the volunteers to identify the children and young adults who were participating in the paddle boarding. The event was closed to those who had registered and the rashie's just helped them to stand out!

Both O and L were very eager to get into the water, despite the grey sky and looming rain clouds! When the instructors told all of the participants to stand by a board, it was a race between O and L as to who could get to the boards first!

It was wonderful to see such a huge range in ages of children and young adults enjoying being out on the boards. Every participant was assigned a volunteer so there was full supervision of everyone throughout the event. This also meant that the parents and care givers could stand back and marvel in what their children were doing! I was well prepared that I may have to get into the water with one or both of my little superheroes, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to stay dry!!

The volunteers were all wonderful with the children. They were all so very patient and understanding. The children and young adults were setting the pace as to what they wanted to do. There was no pressure whatsoever put onto the participants that they had to stand up or had to get into the water.

O took to paddle boarding like a duck to water. She found her balance very early on and spent most of the session standing on her board.

At one point O paddled over towards me and shouted "Mummy, Mummy! I can stand, I can steer, I can change directions, I can stop. I'm an awesome grommet!!"

L had a fun as well - he mostly wanted to sit or lay on his board! He also showed off his diving and swimming skills to his very patient supervisor!

All in all, the paddle boarding was brilliant. I can honestly recommend the events that Sensory Souls organises to all families who have children or young adults with special needs. There is a lot of thought and effort put into the events.

So thank you Sensory Souls and all of your volunteers for an amazing opportunity. Both O and L loved paddle boarding and want to try it again. Also a huge thank you to Surfing Australia, Rip Curl, Sunshine Coast Surf Schools, Weetbix and Macquarie Sports for your support of Sensory Souls in running these paddle boarding events. I can only speak on behalf of my two children, but we really appreciate the opportunity to participate in these types of events.


  1. That seems an unforgettable experience that my kids would enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Paddle boarding looks so fun! I'm so glad your kids got to experience that.

  3. never been paddleboarding but it looks really fun!

  4. My dad's taken up paddle boarding in the last few years, and wants to take my 7 year old out with him. Your post makes me definitely want to encourage my son to try it out with Grandpa!

  5. This is so wonderful. I remember doing paddle boating as a kid


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