Book Review: Sensory-being for Sensory Beings by Joanna Grace

Today we review the book Sensory-being for Sensory Beings by Joanna Grace.

About the author: meet Joanna Grace

Joanna Grace is an international inclusion and sensory engagement consultant with over 25 years working with people with profound disabilities. She is the founder of The Sensory Projects, which “seeks to contribute to a world where everyone is understood in spite of difference”.

She provides training on sensory engagement techniques across the UK and internationally. Joanna is a doctoral researcher at Southampton University, exploring identity and belonging for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

About the book: Sensory-being for Sensory Beings

This book introduces the idea of Linguistic and Sensory Beings, and the benefit of sensory-being for both groups. These distinctions are explored throughout the book. The book was written with the help of sensory-being consultants, that is, those who know best how to live as Sensory Beings. It is aimed at parents, teachers, adult care workers, and practitioners, many of whom tried out ideas and contributed to this book.

This book centres on an exploration of how communication – both expressive and receptive – is experienced between Sensory Beings and Linguistic Beings. If you’re reading this review, you are most likely a Linguistic Being who can operate in a reading, writing and speaking world. Your work might be with someone who operates as a Sensory Being in a touching, feeling, tasting, smelling and hearing world. This book acts as a translator for those crossing this divide.

The 11 chapters include the initial identification of both Beings (Sensory and Linguistic), going through the benefits and challenges of each. They also give strategies and tips for improved and mindful communication, examples of stimuli for the various senses (we could have up to 33 senses!) and the inclusion of sensory considerations for older people and those living with dementia. The book provides ample reading lists for each chapter. However, it deliberately does not have a conclusion. Instead, the photos and reflections of the sensory-being consultants says it all: “Nothing beats being there in the moment”.

In conclusion: read this book!

This book encourages readers to open their minds to the parallel plains of communication operating simultaneously in the blink of an eye, when two people of differing being-ness exchange ideas and thoughts. Being literate is something most of us take for granted. This book opens up our thinking and creativity to the possibility that there are more ways to communicate than we were ever aware of. Hence sensory-being for Sensory Beings: a very clever title.

How does this book relate to TACPAC?

Being Sensory is an important concept to anyone using TACPAC. “Sensory” is the language we use in a session, assuming the role of someone whose first language is Sensory rather than English, Spanish or Russian. The role of the Giver in TACPAC is explained in depth during the trainings, and assumes an importance on a par with the role of the Receiver. Both, together, form the content, style, tone of the exchange and communication and the one is as necessary as the other. Therefore to understand the concept of a Sensory Being is to understand how TACPAC works – and it does!

Learn more on a TACPAC training day!

Find out more about some of the concepts discussed in this book, including sensory communication, at one of our training days:

Share your story!

Have you read this book? Did you find it useful? How has it impacted your work with TACPAC? We’d love to hear from you!

Email us to share your stories, photos and videos:

Attend the Super Sensory Lexiconary!

Join Joanna Grace at the Super Sensory Lexiconary in Brighton next year:

Find out more with some further reading

If you want to read more about the ideas discussed in this book review, then check out the following pages:

Sensory Beginnings: We are all sensory beings living in a sensory world.

Alastair Somerville: Sensory Design Consultant; Cognitive Accessibility Specialist; Founder of Acuity Design.

Katie Paulson: Writer for The Mighty, Advocate, Blogger.

Mary Atkinson: Award-winning complementary therapist and author on 4 books on massage.

British Association for Music Therapy.

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre.