Highly Sensitive Children at School

One of the most common enquiries I receive here at the National Centre for High Sensitivity is from parents of Highly Sensitive Children (HSCs) who are struggling at school. In a way, those who are reading this Newsletter are quite likely to understand the very real challenges HSCs face during their education – after all, most of us are HSPs and remember all too well the joys and tribulations.Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who, for quite an extended period, find themselves working through a maze of concerns and explanations for their child’s behaviour and responses and often come to the NCHS after years of worry or frustration. Reading Dr Elaine Aron’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Child’, or coming into contact with an aware parent, therapist or teacher provides the impetus to reframe what is going on for their child and gives hope and direction for support.

Some children are fortunate to have parents like us, who with proper information and understanding, can attune to the needs of the highly responsive child – but others are not so fortunate. Although we as individuals cannot help each and every child we come across, something we can do is talk about high sensitivity (or high responsivity, sensory processing sensitivity) more freely. Even if our child is doing well in school and at home, let’s remember that this may be because we know how to support them to be all they can be. That is information that is very useful to share when the time is right.

It is becoming more and more important to help schools and their staff to understand the appropriate needs of HSCs. They have as much right as anyone to enjoy their schooling and to have their educational and welfare needs met in appropriate ways. Making up at least 15% of the school population, they are a significant minority who have lots to offer and whose failure to reach their full potential is often missed due to their better than average achievement levels and ability to hide or mis-define their stress.

If you have the ear of any professional person, do point them in the direction of Dr Elaine Aron’s books and remind them that they can access training and guidance through the NCHS (www.hspsensitive.com). We train professionals and also keep a list of people who have an interest in supporting highly sensitive people, children and their families. You can also help by volunteering to take part in important studies around education and highly sensitive children that are in the process of being set up at this time (contact us for more details).

In particular we have a fledgling project underway that is looking to provide more input for teenage HSCs. Although this is tiny at the moment, in the planning stage and working on a micro-budget, any input will help us to start thinking about how we can appropriately support highly sensitive teenagers at a time when pressure is on and identity and confidence are major growth areas.

barbara_allen-wIf you have any comments on the above, do please share them with us; and to those of you who have already started fledgling work projects, THANK YOU! My appreciation goes out especially to Nina, Nicole and Nicola who have all begun the worthwhile journey towards mentoring the next generation of parents and highly sensitive people .

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)

Introduction to Floating

HSP Pathways

 

HSP Pathways – May 2016

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Carl Rogers

Living in a world dominated by sensory overload and ‘busyness’, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time necessary to enable our bodies and minds to return to their natural state of relaxation, particularly following a busy or stressful day, event or time in our lives.

I began to explore the world of ‘Floating’ after my physical and mental health began to suffer from working in a stressful job and studying and I remembered having read something in one of Elaine Aron’s newsletters ( http://www.hsperson.com/pages/2Nov10.htm ) about floatation tanks being helpful for HSP’s and stress and decided to investigate further.

Two and a half years and five or six floats later, I can say with absolute conviction that the one-hour experience of being able to ‘let go’ within the floatation tank is like having an intensive spa break. It enables the deep feeling of relaxation you feel after a power nap, loosened muscles felt after a lengthy massage and a mind free to wander without being tied up in knots that you feel after an extended break away. All this, within the privacy of your own suite and without the stress or discomfort that can sometimes be experienced when having a massage.

FloatingThe facility I went to in Kent
(Cornmill Health Centre) provided comprehensive written information about floating and on my first visit the helpful staff talked me through what to expect. I had my own private suite with a shower and although the float lasts an hour you can have the suite for 90 minutes. The float costs £25 (cheaper if you book in blocks of 5) and you have control over how much, if any, light you wish to keep within the floatation experience. I have experimented with different settings and find that it varies according to how I’m feeling on each occasion as to whether I want to have the space completely dark or with some gentle background light on.

To start with, I found it difficult to relax, however with each float I had, my body and mind became more accustomed to what to expect and now on entering the water and lying back, my body begins to relax much quicker and the ‘mental traffic’ fades away. As the water is highly salted your body is fully supported and you do not actively need to do anything to remain afloat. The water itself is shallow (approx. 25cm) and you can use a neck pillow for additional comfort if you prefer.

The facility I visit provides what I would call more of a ‘personalised floatation pool’ which is tall enough to stand up in and although I’m nearly 6 feet tall there is enough space lying flat to do an extended star stretch and just about reach the all 4 corners of the pool! I have not tried what might be called flotation pods or tanks you have to climb into and lie flat as I enjoy the space of the flotation pool and the opportunity to move around. However, there does not appear to be an industry standard, so it would be worth checking out what facilities exist within your local area if you are thinking of trying it out. Some flotation ‘pods’ may not be suitable for people who dislike being in confined spaces.

Experiencing floating has provided me with an addition to my ‘HSP self-care toolkit’ and although I do not have the opportunity to go on a regular basis, I find that going as and when I feel in need of some more intensive relaxation provides the opportunity for some valuable ‘me’ time and the chance to literally let the stress and tension from daily life melt away.

Article written by Liz Fraser (e-mail: HSPpathways@outlook.com)

HSPs and Self Care

I have been doing a lot of work around the topic of HSP Self-Care lately. Not that this is a new thing, but I have noticed that more and more of my work with HSPs relates to this.

Why is this topic so important and what makes it something we have to return to again and again?
One of the reasons, I guess, is that the very thing we are trying to reduce (our holistic stress), prevents us from feeling able to consistently plan for or work with ideas that relate to our self-care. Further, finding time in the diary to include things that are good for us means being able to use our logistical brain. The trouble is, stress makes it hard to focus and use our working memory effectively. Then, the other difficulties, our physical and emotional fatigue, come into the picture – how can we work up enough confidence and energy to actually give ourselves the space and permission to do that logistical and subsequent self care work in the first place? Why is this all so damn hard?!

Well… its a complex story, and not possible to explore fully in a short piece like this, but we can make a start by going back to basics. Whatever is going on, it’s really important to remember that everything we experience is filtered through our four HSP sub-traits – Depth of Processing, Emotional Intensity, Sensory Sensitivity and our potentially Over-stimulated nervous system (D.O.E.S. – E A Aron PhD). So even our attempt at Self-Care comes via these four areas.

We also need to remember that our attitude to our sensitivity and our normal needs is influenced by our upbringing and experiences. If we have been told we are not tired, when we actually are, we may have learned to ignore and in fact not plan for taking care of fatigue. The stress this neglect brings about causes an increase in our cortisol levels, which in cases of long-term and chronic stress, actually makes it hard for us to focus and even to remember things properly. With what attitude do we observe and act on this neglect and its effects?

If you are someone who was criticized for your emotional sensitivity or intensity, have you spent a lifetime failing to make room for those emotional responses in your life – both the joyful ones and the sad or frustrated ones? Self-care isn’t all about the physical, eating a good diet and getting the right amount of sleep – its also about making space and honouring your natural feelings, the beauty of their intensity and the role they play in directing you towards what is good for you. It’s also about surrounding yourself with positive people.

There are also your gifts – potential skills and experiences that need good, healthy soil in which to grow. Self-care, of course underlies the development of your abilities and even deeper, gives the right environment to accommodate and reference your soul, (whatever soul means to you).

Barbara_Allen-WI think you are getting the picture here, that Self-Care, especially for HSPs is a complex and holistic matter. It includes the past, even though the focus has to be in the present. It includes the future because that is the way to your authentic self-hood. It includes making space for all that you are as well as who you are to others. Above all, Self Care requires as much respect and attention as anything else – its part of our life-blood, keeps us strong and able to contribute what highly sensitive people offer the world when they are well. ‘What’s that?’, I hear you wondering – Well, that’s for another piece….

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)

What is happening at the NCHS

It’s been a year of challenges and achievements in the face of struggles here at the National Centre for High Sensitivity (NCHS). The topic of high sensitivity is becoming more talked about, especially when we take information into schools and there is such a lot to do ‘out there’. Health issues, both of myself and a close friend have made it necessary for me to step back somewhat for a few months and this has been very frustrating, knowing what needs to be done and having to rest nevertheless.

Fortunately for me, Ildiko (Newsletter Editor and much more!) has kept her finger on the pulse and filled in some of the gaps on my behalf (thank you so much Ildiko). She has also been a great support to me and kept me motivated throughout some tough times.

The National Centre for High Sensitivity has been very lucky in that some of the people who have attended Workshops and other events in the last couple of years have been inspired to begin working on projects aimed at children, parents and young people. It may be a while before we see the fruits of this, but its good for you to know there is some work going on around this.

In the meantime, it has become clearer that Mentoring for HSPs is a vital service and we are happy to offer that and to continue to support others to do so. We offer Professional Training to anyone wishing to learn more about how to adapt their support work with sensitive individuals. Mentoring is different from counseling because it involves sharing ideas, skills and support in a way that gives more freedom in terms of time and the type of help that can be offered. It is not ‘therapy’ but often feels ‘therapeutic’.

Some of the HSPs who attend our Meetups and Events have a lot of experience in finding ways forward, meeting challenges, living authentically and healthily in a world where we are often put under pressure to live differently than is natural to us. One of our popular types of Mentoring is the ‘Walk and Talk’ mentoring that takes place on a peaceful walk. We need more Mentors, Counsellors and ‘Walk and Talk’ practitioners in our directory so that we can put people in touch with other supportive HSPs in their locality. HSPs pay for these services and if you are suitable, self-aware, reliable and would like to train with us, do let us know.

My next task is to re-start the NCHS calendar and begin adding things into the diary again. I receive numerous requests from HSPs for various events in their locality, but often find that we don’t have enough people to be able to create an event for them – an example of this is Manchester where we would love to provide a Meetup, a Workshop and a training event, but where we don’t have enough people to be able to cover our costs for a venue and travel as yet. That being said, we are still looking at ways to spread the support and facilities we offer at the NCHS as wide as possible – my dream is to have a regular monthly HSP Meetup happening in every county in the UK – maybe this will happen one day.Barbara_Allen-W

In the meantime, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and am so grateful to be meeting lovely HSPs from all walks of life as I go about this important work. I am looking forward to another year pushing this project forward and will update you when we have any further news of interest .

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)