The Sensory-being Project


To facilitate the benefits of mindfulness practice in a sensory way.

Sensory-being - the enveloping of natural presentness and awareness in an unfolding sensory moment.

Sensory Beings - people whose primary experience of the world, and meaning within it, is sensory.


A huge team of people worked together in 2016, each contributing their particular strengths, to discover how to create and share sensory experience that engage people in an unfolding sensory moment.

The team:

    • Over 30 Sensory Beings working as consultants advising on what sorts of sensory experiences best held them in an unfolding moment.

    • 26 Sustainable design students, trained by Jo Grace in sensory development, designing new sensory objects to engage and enfold people in a sensory moment.

    • Over 40 experienced practitioners and parents contributing their insights and knowledge.

Sensory-being can be thought of as a type of mindfulness suited to people whose attention falls naturally on the present. In sharing sensory experiences with Sensory Beings we can explore sensory-being and mindfulness together for mutual benefit.

The Sensory Being Consultant Team

Zac, Tarik, Shannon, Savannah, Rosa, Zoe:

Mya, Mia, Lilly (hiding on the left), Leo, Julia:

Joseph, Isaac, Harry, Hannah, Gabriel:

Freya, Fox, Elowen, Eleanor, Daryl:

Xander, Anonymous, Chloe and Chloe:

Consultants, Oak, Tabby and Suzanne also took part but are not pictured because they either just managed to dodge the camera or were too ill to take part when the photographer visited the consultation. Consultants in later age took part but are not pictured. Some consultants took part but needed to remain completely anonymous.

Huge thanks to ALL the consultants for sharing their valuable insight.

Images used as a part of the Sensory-being Project with kind permission of parents and careers.

The second iteration of the Sensory-being Project (2018)

A second iteration of the Sensory-being Project took place in 2018. A select team of our original Sensory Being Consultants advised 24 Sustainable Designers from Falmouth University with regards to the creation of new sensory products. Two product development companies have expressed interest in producing some of the products developed through this process. You can view an online photo album of the final designs here.

The designs are an example of what can be achieved when we work together, the consultation process as a whole demonstrates how provision changes powerfully in the better when collaboration is meaningful and when 'voice' of any kind is truly listened to.

The Sensory Projects, and all involved with this project in particular, Consultants, Participants, Advisers, Everyone wish to convey their heartfelt condolences to the families of Consultants Zac, Oak and Harry who all died between the two iterations of the projects. We were hoping to work with Zac, Oak and Harry again and were looking forward to receiving their wisdom and insight. We are devastated to not have that opportunity, but the insights they shared in 2016 continue to inform us and those we support ongoing.

The third iteration of the Sensory-being Project (2019)

The project is now a regular collaboration between the design team and the consultant team, we are improving how we work together year on year, and have increased interest from product development companies. Explore the photo albums here for an insight into the consultation process.

In March 2019 The Sensory-being Project won a National Award from the Creative Learning Guild in Visual Arts and Design. The team were especially thrilled as the project was entered into the special needs category of the awards but was moved across to the mainstream by the judges, where it not only competed against nominees from the mainstream but won!

The Sensory-being Project demonstrates clearly that co-design with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities is both possible and extremely fruitful. The quotes below come straight from design team members talking about the role the consultant team have played in the development of their product.

The fourth iteration of the Sensory-being Project (2020)

The fourth iteration of the Sensory-being Project reached the middle of the consultation process, with Consultants beginning to advise on prototype designs not just on materials and accessibility, when the COVID19 pandemic called everything to a halt. The Design team worked hard to carry the advice they had already received forwards into their completed works.

Photos of the consultations can be viewed here and here.

Sadly this year prior to the COVID chaos, our consultant Suzanne died, aged 11 years. Suzanne has worked for the project since its inception. Her insights continue to be shared with this year's design team and will be shared with future year's teams as well. You can get a glimpse of some of the advice she has shared with us through the years here.


The book Sensory-being for Sensory Beings that describes how to create stimuli for sensory-being and how to facilitate moments of sensory-being for everyone was published by Routledge.

Click to access Chapter 10 'makes' content via Facebook

Click to access Chapter 10 supportive content

If you cannot find the additional content you are looking for please get in touch with the author directly via

The courses

and Sensory Engagement for Mental Well-being were developed as a result of the sensory-being project. The Lexiconary shares insight into how choosing resources according to sensory development can foster engagement, and the Sensory Engagement for mental well-being day looks at how simple adjustments in how we facilitate sensory experiences can have a profound impact on the mental well-being of Sensory Beings.


When working out how to provide the sensitivity of facilitation needed during the Structured Sensory Art Project to allow the artists to be the creative force in their work I decided to put in a brief mindfulness session at the start of the studio time in order to align the facilitators with the present moment.

As we ran these sessions we realised that the artists were experts at mindfulness.

Where for a Linguistic Being mindfulness can be the gentle herding of one's attention, in a non judgemental way back to the present. What is mindfulness to someone whose attention is always in the present? Is it already achieved or is there still a distinction to be drawn?

In thinking about the feeling of mindfulness we recognise a stillness or a steadiness to the being. Someone whose attention is on the present but that attention is jumping around does not feel this stillness. In providing a sensory object that entrances we give someone the opportunity to both be in the moment and to feel that stillness and steadiness we associate with mindful practice. We called this sensory mindfulness sensory-being.

The positive effects of mindfulness on mental and physical health are well documented. We hope that by facilitating mindfulness in a sensory way we can extend these benefits to Sensory Beings.