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Issue 69 Summer 2006

Making friends through touch and trust

sp ec ia Lil l a li rti N cl ie e lse fro n m

photos from the Woodside Sanctuary, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Contents Information Exchange celebrates the journey that we all make along the 'journey of understanding' about the special babies, children, young people and adults who share our lives. It exists as a Forum and support for all who have, along with sensory needs, other complex ones.

Information Exchange is compiled with help from many corners of the world - ideas written and spoken, ideas seen and experiences shared. It is fully independent and the Editorial Team work hard on a voluntary basis to bring out the magazine - three times a year. There are also unseen supporters of the magazine who help in many ways. Information Exchange has a buzz that is fostered when readers get together through the magazine itself. The basic remit of the magazine is the exchange of information in an accessible and unbiased way. There is a delight in newly found discoveries, sensory trinkets, soothing aromas, new ideas, books, technology, issues to discuss and Rag Bag ideas to share. Information Exchange is for everyone - family members, parents, carers, educators, therapists or anyone who needs to find out more or gain confidence from others by reading, challenging and discussing. In this inclusive way, everyone is learning and growing together through the medium of the magazine. Copyright We have requests to reprint articles that have appeared in Information Exchange from time to time. Please note that such requests are passed on to the original authors for their decision on publication. Price - £6.00 per individual copy Advertising Rates Back Cover Full Page Half Page Quarter Page

Contents Editors page Sensory Gardens and Very Special People Book Reviews Jabadao Centre Sparkling Easter Celebrations Education Lilli Nielson – a Pioneer in Special Education A coming of age for Johanna Rag Bag To Buy Rag Bag To Make Chillout Zone – Teenagers Healthy information Research Forum from Sue Granger in France Electronic exchange Dee Bank school art project 3DTV Drama Conferences and courses

We need YOU! Send us your article, idea or photo for the magazine we will do the rest!

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Disclaimer The views expressed in Information Exchange are those of individual authors and so do not necessarily represent the views of the Editorial Team. Also, neither the individual contributors nor the team can be held responsible for any consequences resulting from the purchase or use of equipment, toys, techniques or ideas featured or advertised in the magazine.


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Editorial Editorial

The Information Exchange Editorial Team

Dear readers, the summer issue of Information Exchange is packed with some very interesting articles, as well as the usual sections. Have a look at the article all about Lilli Nielsen, from Denmark, one of the pioneers in promoting the ideas of active learning for special learners, if not for all children. Lilli has had poor health recently and I very much appreciate her sending me a pile of information for readers. It is timely to focus on her pioneer work, for those who use her work and the younger generation who do not yet know about her work. There will be a second article in the winter edition, to complete this focus on a wonderful woman. Please continue to send in your ideas and articles; sharing is caring for everyone who reads Information Exchange – across the world, Best sensory wishes, Flo Longhorn The editor

SOS Missing pages in the last issue If you had missing or blank pages in the last issue this was due to an error at the printers. Please let us know and we will send a new one free of charge- send an email to the editor or call/fax. The photograph shows me at Legoland, with some grandchildren, celebrating my new bus pass and pension!

Flo Longhorn: Managing Editor, Consultant in Special Education Catherine de Haas: Parent and Speech and Language Therapist Sara Clift: Subscriptions Secretary Roger Longhorn: Webmaster Kay Evans: Teacher and regular reader of IE Sue Granger: A volunteer who lives in France Sally Slater: Consultant in Special Education Karen Buckley: Teacher working in Sheffield Additional advice and support from Sally Silverman our roving reporter Kate Sullivan, Bronwen Campbell and Naomi Rosenberg: Support teachers for the Sensory Impaired Service in Bristol Evelyn Varma who lives in Somerset: Editing and Word Processing And you – the reader, send your ideas and articles to the Editor! Subscriptions All enquiries to: Sara Clift, Subscriptions, Information Exchange, 1A Potters Cross, Wootton, Bedfordshire MK43 9JG Tel and Fax: 01234 764108 Email: Hi All, I'm Sara and I am the new Subscription Secretary here at Information Exchange. Pat is still around to keep me in line but has passed the gauntlet! There is some confusion regarding when subscriptions are due so just to clarify… Subscriptions are due in January and cover the 3 issues of Information Exchange for that coming year. There may be a subscription reminder in each issue of the magazine – this is so that you can pass it on to friends or increase your own subscription! Could I also remind you all that our address is 1A Potters Cross, Wootton, and Bedfordshire, MK45 3JG. Any post should be sent to this address and not to Cheadle Hulme. If you have any problems/queries please feel free to contact me by phone, fax or email at Regards Sara

Editorial and Administration Address

Good wishes from everyone at

Information Exchange Best wishes from readers to Lilli Nielsen in Denmark, for a good recovery from illness she has been fighting for a long time. The good news from Sally Silverman is that she is well on the road to recovery. She should be back doing wonderful work with special children in Bristol, in July.

Flo Longhorn: Managing Editor 1A Potters Cross , Wootton, Bedfordshire MK43 9JG OR 24 Fazantenlaan, Bredene-Am-Zee, B8450 Belgium Tel/Fax: 0845 127 5281 Email:

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Sensory Gardens and Very Special People When you are very special - that is, if you have a severe or profound disability - it is very difficult to find a sanctuary where you can relax and escape from the pressures of daily life. Every day, you wake to find helpful people looking after your intimate requirements, deciding what they think you would like to eat or where you would like to go. It is not easy to express your choices or preferences or to say where you would like to be - because the world finds it hard to understand your efforts at communication. However, your network of senses gives you great pleasure and, through the senses, you can enjoy and learn on a very simple level. Perhaps the only sanctuary you can find is through a sensory garden that provides solitude, privacy and an opportunity to explore and communicate with the natural world - using all your senses. A sensory garden can be as simple as … a pot of soil and a single seed. Natalie has very limited movements, but she likes to point her finger. It gives her great pleasure to poke her finger into a pot of moist soil and then watch a plump seed drop in the hole. Natalie now works at a garden centre using her greatest skill - “one finger planting” - and is a keen and valued member of the gardening team! A sensory garden can be as simple as … a hanging basket, hung inside or outside. It is on a simple pulley and can be lowered into the lap of a person in a wheelchair, giving them command over a micro-world that changes with the seasons. The basket can be planted with quick growing seeds and bulbs or it can be instantly transformed by readygrown plants and it can hold many colours, smells and textures. Bells or a windmill can be placed in the basket to enhance the sense of sound and the movement of puffs of wind. A sensory garden can be as simple as … a window box or a tub on a patio, at the right level to get “dug in”. Stevie has to spend time in a side-lying frame each day and his garden is a window box on the floor. It is at an acute angle so that as he lies sideways, he can move his two arms together to brush the aromatic herbs and sniff the smells that drift to him. Plants store volatile


essential oils and when they are touched, the oil is oxidised and the fragrances released. Rubbing or breaking the leaves of an aromatic plant releases quite pungent smells. Artemesia, lavender, santolina and lemon balm all like trailing hands and soon release their smells. A sensory garden can be as simple as … a very small piece of ground for a group of very special people to call their own. A group of very special students at a further education unit spent a year on their plot. Over a year, the garden offered many pleasures including rolling over in a patch of thyme. They also grew and dried herbs, hanging them from the classroom ceiling. Alpine strawberries grew in pots placed at different levels, from which the students could pick and eat them, as they were able. Using a redundant sand tray and stand, they grew small salad vegetables at just the right height for wheelchairs. The students made a portable garden of pot-grown plants, such as geraniums, fuchsias, petunias and Busy Lizzies, to be brought inside for the winter. Cuttings were taken from plants and a range of scented geraniums were grown for the smell table, where bowls of dried herbs were also placed. Herbs were also used to make herb scones. A sensory garden can be a specially constructed space where anyone can encounter a spiritual uplifting or feeling of mystery and awe - using their numinous sense. A large hospital has a small sensory garden outside the children's ward. Sally was eighteen months old before she left the only world she knew, the inside of a hospital room. She was taken out, complete with all her medical tubes, and placed beneath a shady bush that she loved. Nearby, she could hear the sound of water tinkling over pebbles. She turned to the sound and soon experienced her first toe dabble in gushing, cold water. A special school in Blackburn created a spiritual sensory garden through an award from a religious organisation. The project was to create an outdoor multisensory garden to enhance the sense of spirituality encountered in many world religions. Through nature, it provides a place of stillness, privacy, belonging and a reflective view of life. The entrance archway has trailing plants and bells attached so that children can announce their arrival. The three main areas are dedicated to

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Sensory Gardens and Very Special People Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. In the central area are a sundial, a birdbath and bird table, reflecting caring for living animals and the passing of time - common themes to most religions. Each sanctuary has a tactile, carved symbol and each has a different natural floor surface. The areas are full of multisensory plants, trees and the sounds of nature - a miraculous sanctuary - a sensory garden sanctuary for everyone, regardless of colour, creed, disability or religion. Flo Longhorn

Here Liz and Hugh share some good vibrations from the obelisk in a beautiful sensory corner of the garden. If you would like further information about the work of Hugh, please let the editor know and she will forward this to Bronwen.

Sensory Garden Information Some further sources of information: Organisations that have a lot of gardening knowledge to share Btcv environments for all are keen to include everyone in environmentally friendly projects

Here are some ideas and information sources for your own sensory garden. You may be starting a new one or re vamping a mature garden so these ideas will be very useful to you.

Royal Horticultural Society is not as posh as they seem and are very willing to help and advise in garden projects

The photos below were sent in by Bronwen Campbell and they show the work of a very special gardener called Hugh. The photos show his mint seat, obelisk and raised planters. What a special wood bench, Hugh is sitting onit is called the' mint seat 'and the words are carved seat on the front of the bench, to feel and explore. Beneath the bench is under-planted with mint plants so that when the plants grow, you will have to stand on the mint or wheel over the mint to get to the seat and whilst you are sitting on it-you won't be able to avoid the strong wafts of mint! Hugh and Liz are expectantly waiting for the flowers to grow in these raised beds, just right for wheelchair users to work and dig and plant their own plants.

They run a free schools membership and benefits include a termly newsletter, an email hot line and access to the RHS Seed Distribution Scheme. For further details look at the website above For suggestions on plants for a sensory garden, visit THRIVE is also a good contact as this charity assists the disadvantaged to become included in society through gardening or call 01189 885688 Looking for cash to finance a garden? • Awards for all England at • The Tudor Trust at • Big Lottery Fund • Ford Motor Company (only if you are in the catchments area for their factories) Excellent Websites with lots of gardening know-how gives lots of excellent link, hints and tips to garden info has garden curriculum ideas and lessons to share Use your local parks and gardens or local organisations in your area. (I remember getting the third age university to come in and plant cuttings from their gardens, in our sensory garden – the editor)

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Book Reviews 'Art and Design Resource File Foundation Stage' By John Thirlwall and Jill Painter You will find a wide variety of creative experiences in the LCP art and design resource file, all based on the QCA guidance for the Foundation Stage. This means the ideas are all at a simple level and should prove suitable for very special artists as well. There are 3 stages comprising:

Some text missing off right hand edge!!

• A flip book of works of art by famous painters • A resource file with examples of children's and artists work

• A cd containing editable materials and images to project on to a white board. You can download free sample lessons on The resource file costs £89.95 and a site licence is included in the price. You can find out more on the above website.

Including Me Including Me: managing complex health needs in schools and early years settings is a new guide for parents, teachers, health providers and local authorities giving practical advice on providing support to children with complex health needs in schools and early years settings so that they may attend regularly and take part in all activities. It complements the recently published guide Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings. The guide was produced by the Council for Disabled Children, with funding from the Department, in conjunction with the Health Needs in Education Consortium including the National Children's Bureau, Mencap, and the Royal College of Nursing. Copies are available at: and from the Council for Disabled Children on 0207 843 1900 Cost: £12.50


SEN publications If you are not a member of NASEN and would like to assess the value of its published information you might like to consider taking advantage of their free trial of nasen journals? Full online access to British Journal of Special Education, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs and Support for Learning for 90 days Details from

Message from Sally Slater 'Sorry, everyone, there have been problems with the production of the 'fun fair pack 'advertised in the last Information Exchange – hang on though, they should be with you shortly Sally Slater

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Book Reviews 3 books for those interested in Brain Gym, more on this in the winter issue – the editor

Hands On: How to Use Brain Gym in the Classroom Isabel Cohen & Marcelle Goldsmith All ages Cost: £25.25

importance of play; brain breaks for relaxation; brain breaks for numeracy and literacy; links to learning topics; brain breaks for improving concentration; and how to add music to movement. Very highly recommended.

Brain Gym Paul E. Dennison PhD & Gail E. Dennison

Based on the original work of Paul and Gail Dennison this book applies the theories of Brain Gym in the classroom. It covers the principles, explains the most opportune moments to implement them and, with the aid of photographs of South African schoolchildren, shows how each movement is performed. Helpful songs and stories are given to make it all more fun for the children, and the exercises are placed into specific learning categories. There is a useful pictorial manual to complement the Brain Gym books.

All ages. Fully illustrated paperback. 40 pages

Move It: Physical Movement And Learning

“Brain Gym”, designed by Education Kinesiology, is a series of simple and enjoyable movements that children can make to enhance the experience of whole-brain learning. These excellent and highly acclaimed books allow each individual to achieve the best from his or her learning potential, improving learning and allowing expression. The teacher's edition contains everything found in Brain Gym, as well as an in-depth explanation of the movements and whole-brain learning concepts.

Alistair Smith Ages 4 - 11 Cost: £17.95 This book contains over 100 activities divided into sections on: the theory of movement and learning; brain breaks for handwriting; lifestyle choices and the

Change of Direction for RNIB bookshop The RNIB Book catalogue has been discontinued – a great pity as they sold many excellent books such as those of Lilli Nielsen. There is a free e-newsletter to replace the catalogue – Below are details of Adam Ockelford's book, published by the RNIB. You should be able to get it at

Objects of Reference (3rd Edition) Adam Ockelford £6.50 In the last decade, the use of objects of reference has spread rapidly in the UK, and they now have a place in the communication programmes of many children and

Cost: £8.00 and Brain Gym Teacher's Edition Large format paperback. 45 pages Cost: £18.20

adults with severe and even profound learning difficulties. Their potential value for some people with autism and other communication disorders has also begun to be recognised. Used sensitively within appropriate developmental contexts, objects have proved to be a great asset, assisting some people to understand, anticipate or remember things better, while quite literally unlocking the communication potential of others. However, other efforts have been less successful, particularly where objects have been imposed as an inflexible system in “top-down” fashion. A key aim, therefore, of this third edition of objects of reference is to clarify certain key issues, including the extent to which a “wholeschool/college/centre” approach is possible or desirable.

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Jabadao Centre I recently did some consultancy in Ayr, Scotland with a respected colleague and friend, Christine Smith. She introduced me to Jabadao – the Centre for the study of movement, learning and health – based in Leeds. It is a national agency undertaking research and offering a wide range of information and training in the many different ways human beings (so this includes everyone) develop 'body intelligence'. Their belief is that ' people need to live fully in their bodies as well as their heads' They run a variety of courses that cover working not only with children but with the elderly as well. They are recommended highly by Christine who uses the materials and philosophy across her work with ordinary and special children. Jabadao produce a catalogue that is full of excellent resources that will enable the slightest movement to be sustained- a flick of a wispy scarf or the shake of a golden sheet. Here is some of the equipment they produce- obtainable through their mail order catalogue -phone on 0113 236 3311 fax on 0113 236 2266 or email for a copy

Ribbon sticks are single broad ribbons on a fabriccovered stick. They make lovely ribbon trails in the air. They come in different lengths and the stick cover can be removed for washing.

Elastics are great for pulling groups together and are like a giant elastic scrunchy. They are great for pulling and tugging. They also do parachutes and body balls.

A cd of music is available and also the report on research into play and movement


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Sparkling Easter Celebrations Last Easter, I spent time with the staff at Tor View School. As I walked in the hall to prepare for my presentation, I was very taken with a large wood cross, which sparkled and moved with light and colour. As I drew nearer I could see hundreds of individual cds colourfully decorated and attached all over the cross. When I asked what it was, staff told me that every pupil at the school had carefully designed their own cd to suit their personality and sparkle - a celebration of life. Regardless of age or creed the wooden cross became a focus of celebration for the whole school. Here are the pictures staff took for me for the magazine – thank you Tor View staff for doing this so generously.

(The cds are attached to the cross by small hooks-the ones used for telephone wires- securely fixed to the frame) The shimmering shining cross-covered both sides with cds made by pupils

 The decorated cds

 An Easter CD mobile 

An Easter tree in the classroom

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Education A last glimpse at ‘Shoe Box Stories’ Here are the last of the pictures of shoebox stories to enthuse you to make some for yourself and your group. Remember, they are a lovely 3D introduction to a story for a reader who is not quite ready for a book but ready to scan a nearby attractive scenario, which also enables you to reach in and interact with the scene inside. A very personal book for a special reader

A spooky space box that glows in the dark as well Under the sea

A walk into Africa

A box of objects to match with symbols for the story

The one and only Dennis the Menace

A very hungry caterpillar


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Education Here I am!

• Visually scan a face • Put perceptions together to make a whole (a mouth

This article is about the important early developmental stages of looking for familiar facesand also finding out about how we recognise our own features.

eyes nose make a face) • Begin to understand about relationships as they seek out a special person It can also begin the formal process of learning such as

• First-first lessons in algebra as the face is seen as a symbol

One of the most important areas in the development of thinking is looking for faces, recognising familiar faces and eventually recognising our own features in a mirror or photograph. This urge to seek out faces actually begins when the baby is born. They are born with a number of reflexes including a reflex found in the lens of the eye called a face reflex. This reflex is a survival one as the baby will show great interest in any human face, encouraging the 'face' to respond and take care of their needs. This reflex remains for life and explains why most of us will 'see' faces in clouds, in a modern art painting for example! Toddlers will recognise themselves in a photograph or video at around 18 months old. They recognise other peoples images before that as they will have seen them lots of time and the brain has built a nice neural pathway of recognition. Reflexes are with us from birth they form the first connections to controlled movements for example. We have adaptive and primitive reflexes. The face reflex is adaptive-it helps us survive.

The red lipstick test How to test for recognition of self in a mirror. Cover the childs nose in red lipstick. After a few minutes show them their face – if they go to wipe off the lipstick then they know it is their nose! The brain is very interested in faces and emotions and carefully stores these for future reference. For example, when a face looks very angry, then the brain will quickly send the information to the thinking emotional part of the brain to cause a change in behaviour! When a very special child is learning to look and regard the world around, then this very simple but strong face reflex can be used to encourage them • To pay attention

• Literacy-reading an image • Emotional literacy and well-being – interpreting a face

• And of course the human body and anatomy in science! Interestingly research tells us that children with autism do not store faces in the same part of the brain – making it hard to retrieve facial information to help in interpretation of emotions. Here are some faces activities to encourage a child to look and remember other people, begin to understand and read emotional faces and find out about themselves. This also applies to students as emotional changes are very evident in adolescence and beyond. It can be quite useful to read a face and sit down to a face that is friendly and encouraging in the pub for example! Mirrors • Use mirrors as often as possible so the child can begin to build up an image of how they look, always remember to make a comment such as 'oh, it is you, its Johnny! • Start the day with mirror recognition. Use a torch to highlight the face as it is observed. • Use face paints to highlight a particular feature before using the mirror • Make sure the mirror is at the right angle and distance for the child to see • Use a full length mirror so the body is recognised too Lots of faces • Cut out faces from magazine-full frontal faces-and laminate • Put the faces on a PowerPoint presentation so they can be larger and also used on a whiteboard for great effect • Extend the activity by using a variety of side faces, male and female animals etc

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Education I know you! • Use a digital camera to capture familiar faces for each particular child, send home a disposable camera for shots of people at home. • Laminate (matt is best as there are no reflections) and make a special face book • Remember to name the faces • Make duplicate images and match up

CD Faces-using old cds • Stick face images on cds and tie together loosely for a great shiny face book • Attach cds to ribbons and make a face mobile. Attach favourite faces to the mobile and pull towards the child-here comes dad! • Cover the cd with a cloth and then 'find' the face

Paint faces • Use face paints to emphasise a facial detail • Put the paint on the face as the part is named • Use fluorescent paint (used by skiers) in the dark so the parts glow

Spectacles rule okay • Collect a treasure basket of a range of different glasses (sunglasses are great as well), and see what the change is when looking in a mirror • Try funny ones (Hawkins Bazaar) • Make a spectacle tree by suspending glasses from branches of a tree

Mirror mirror on the wall

• Look into the mirror with the child • Use a thick black marker on the mirror and mark and name where their facial features are • Draw around their head and describe who it is • Cover a mirror in yoghurt clear parts of the mirror to reveal faces as you watch together

Light up a face • Use a mirror in the dark room or a shaded room • Illuminate the childs face in the mirror • Light it from different angle • Use a colour torch to change the skin colour • Illuminate your face from below to make it look really different and then their face

A facial treasure basket • Use a beautiful accessible box or basket • Fill it with lots of objects to do with faces • For students use* makeup – a shaver-mirror – glasses – head scarf – false nose – hat –- earrings – hair slides – hair gunk

Masking faces (make sure child is not frightened, uses 'happy' to begin)

• Make a variety of masks to change a face or emotion

• A photo stuck on a paper plate with a straw Face jigsaw • Enlarge a photo of a face on the photocopier • Cut in half and laminate each piece • Encourage this simple jigsaw activity to make a whole face • Cut into three/four pieces for the next step

• • • • •

attached as a handle Show different emotional faces – not scary if this is appropriate Use cultural masks from different countries Use art materials to enable child to make own mask Use a fan to mask a face and then reveal face slowly Match your face to the emotion on the mask

Written by Flo Longhorn editor of Information Exchange


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Lilli Nielson – a Pioneer in Special Education Introduction Many readers of Information Exchange will be familiar with the work of Lilli Nielsen PhD, from Denmark. She has been in the forefront of working with children and adults who have multiple dysfunctions (profound and multiple learning disability with complex needs) Lilli has written many books and articles about the Active Learning Approach, which encourages a learner to learn by themselves-without adult prompts. She has also created revolutionary pieces of equipment to enable special children to learn with dignity and spontaneously. This equipment includes the use of a resonance board and these are in good use throughout many settings in the UK. She has also devised the Hopsa suit, which enables a child to be mobile and upright. Videos have been made of her work including a couple of her working with very special children with her sitting on the floor enabling them to explore a range of materials and learn through them. One excerpt is of Natalie, who uses a resonance board for the first time, and this is a classic piece of film. When she retired she was knighted by the Queen of Denmark giving her the decoration of 'The Knight of the Dannebrog'. What an achievement!

Lilli Nielsen The information taken for this summary of the key developments in our understanding of working with the Active Learning Approach has been abstracted – with permission – from the paper presented in Australia by Lilli Nielsen, in 2003

The Active Learning Approach Naming the new Approach At the end of the eighties and the beginning and the nineties, people started to call the educational approach used by me “The Lilli Nielsen Approach”. Although I was pleased that the approach was met with such a positive attitude, I was not very happy with the name. Learners all over the world had shown that the approach

Lilli has kindly sent me several articles about her work when I sent her a recent request. This is despite her recent ill health and I appreciate this, wishing her a speedy recovery. Lilli has given me permission to edit these articles, as they are lengthy to go in a small magazine. However if anyone would like a copy of the full articles sent to them, then please send me an email – and I will send them by attachment. Unfortunately the RNIB book service is now defunct and they used to be the main sellers of the books by Lilli Nielsen and also the videos. Here are new contacts for book, equipment and videos Go to and for further information – they are not on Amazon

Books written by Lilli Nielsen • Space and self • Spatial relationships in congenitally blind infants • Are you blind? • Educational approaches • Visual impairment-understanding the needs of young children • The comprehending hand • Early learning step by step • Functional scheme-final skills assessment • The FIELA curriculum

was a beneficial one. I knew that we were just at the beginning of its development. Having my name included a risk that the approach would die with me. So, since the approach is dynamic, it is and should be under development for many years to come, I decided that the name should be the Active Learning Approach (ALA). The philosophy of the Active Learning Approach (ALA) The ALA is to give the learner the opportunity to learn, and so step by step, acquire the necessary skills that would enable him to learn at higher and higher levels. The ALA was developed primarily while working with learners who were blind with additional dysfunctions such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and hearing loss. While developing the approach

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Lilli Nielson – a Pioneer in Special Education it was discovered that infants and toddlers with vision impairment only or with mental retardation only, would also benefit from having optimal opportunity to learn, rather than from being trained or taught. Although physical contact with the parents and other adults is important, it is considered even more important that the learner with learning difficulties, will have opportunities to learn from his own activities in all developmental areas. For example: Learning to move the jaws, lips and tongue are important pre-requisites for learning to chew, babble and talk. This learning occurs while the learner is playing, rather than while he is eating or communicating. Learning to move the arms, hands and fingers are important pre-requisites for learning about the surrounding world, as well as to achieve daily living skills, and in doing so, become as independent as possible. This learning occurs while the learner is playing, rather than while an adult handles him, or while an adult is guiding his hands. Learning to move the legs and feet are important prerequisites for learning to sit, stand and walk unsupported. This learning occurs if the learner has opportunities to achieve the muscle strength necessary to bear his own weight. Learning to integrate information gained from different perceptual modalities is the pre-requisite for learning object concept and for memorizing that enables the learner to recognize, associate and generalize. This occurs if the learner has opportunities to repeat, compare, and evaluate his experiences as he chooses. Learning to initiate is the pre-requisite for social development and independence. The role of the adult while interacting with the learner should also be considered In some situations the adult should only act as the provider of objects and be ready to share with the learner if and when he wants to share his experiences. In other situations the adult should contribute by taking her turn when the learner wants her to do so. Sometimes the adult should be the one to introduce a new game by playing the game and letting the learner participate when ready to do so. Activities that are too difficult for the learner to perform, or objects that the learner is unable to handle, may result in the learner refusing to be active or becoming autistic.


Interactions, during which the adult performs most of the activities, or refrains from waiting for the learner to initiate his part of the interaction, fail to give the learner the opportunity to learn to initiate. Instead, the learner may become stereotyped, passive, or unable to perform any skill without being prompted. To be held in an adult's arms, or to sit in a wheelchair whenever awake, restrains the learner's opportunity to exercise various gross motor movements and to learn about the external world. Instead of focusing on all the things the learner with MD is unable to do, we should see him as an individual who is just as eager to learn, as is any learner without disabilities. Furthermore, parents of a learner with disabilities are just as eager to see their learner learn, as are parents of a learner without disabilities. So, the philosophy behind the ACTIVE LEARNING APPROACH is that, if given the opportunity to learn from his own active exploration and examination, the learner will achieve skills that become part of his personality that he will use naturally in interaction with others and for fulfillment of his own needs, and will gradually let him react appropriately to instructions and education; in other words to develop to be as independent as possible. Lilli says that the most important aspects of the ALA are 1. Observation of the learner and interviewing the parents 2. Assessing the child's level of development 3. Planning a learning programme 4. Providing environments to encourage unaided physical activity 5. Establishing relationships between theory and practice 6. Keep an eye on new knowledge that can or must be included in the ALA 7. Implement initiatives that can prevent the development of further dysfunctions, such as scoliosis or stereotyped passivity 8. Analysis of the adult's attitudes 9. Development of further perceptualysing aids 10. Reassessing the learner's level of development and upgrading the learning programme For the purpose of facilitating learning, a variety of perceptualysing aids have been designed along with the development of the ACTIVE LEARNING APPROACH so that at present we have • The Resonance Board that reinforces the learner's

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Lilli Nielson – a Pioneer in Special Education

• • • •

• •

• • •

experience, facilitates his learning to move, and gives auditory feedback on movements The Support Bench that facilitates development of head control as well as the ability to sit unaided. The Little Room that facilitates the learner's achievement of spatial relations, object concept, and object permanence The Position Board that facilitates the transfer of knowledge about spatial relations gained in the Little Room to a setting beyond the Little Room The Scratch Board that motivates the learner with closed hands to spread the fingers and enhance the work of his tactile receptors in the fingertips. The Scratch Board also encourages the learner to explore and compare the tactile and auditory qualities of surfaces The Essef Board that motivates the learner to develop muscle strength in feet and legs, and facilitates learning to balance The HOPSA-dress that further facilitates and motivates the learner's development of muscle strength in feet and legs, and the abilities to bear weight and balance. The Multi- Functional Activity Table - this table gives the learner various opportunities to plan his own activity, and motivates him to play constructively. The SPG-Board is a new design of a combination of the Scratch Board and the Position Board And also not forgetting, the FIELA curriculum designed by Lilli

Lilli considers the role of the adult in enabling the ALA approach • To consider the diversity of functions in the learners with MD • To consider the specific complexity of dysfunctions in every learner • To consider the degree of severity of each of the dysfunctions • That no matter how severely disabled the learner was, there was a way towards learning • Although any child is unique the child with MD is even more unique • To distinguish between the learner with congenital dysfunctions and the learner with acquired dysfunctions • How to facilitate the development of midline organisation of hands in learners with severe spasticity in the arms and hands • That the need for a diagnosis should not prevent us from giving the child opportunities to learn • That very early intervention would enable us to prevent the child from developing wrongly thereby

becoming even more dysfunctional

• That environments, that motivate the learner to

• •

explore the environment and interact with objects prevent the learner from turning inward (Van der Poel, 1997) That daily exposure of the learners with scoliosis to the Support Bench and the HOPSA-dress in some cases could prevent the scoliosis from developing further. In a few cases so far it even disappeared That the development of scoliosis is caused by lack of achievement of head control and that the tonic neck reflex is still present. Because of this knowledge it has become even more important for us to expose the learner to environments that encourage head and arm movements that are prerequisites for achieving head control and getting the tonic neck reflex to disappear That learning in learners with autistic-like behaviour, or extreme passivity, or self-mutilation could be encouraged by considering and respecting their level of emotional development To consider the contribution to learning of the remaining perceptual modalities, for example, never to require a learner with cortical visual impairment to see, but rather to use his residual vision when he is motivated to do so How important it is to refrain from interfering in the learner's way of handling a tool, an object, or performing any other activity. To refrain from guiding the learner's hand, but rather allow him to discover his preferred way of doing.

Lilli points out what has been discovered about learning in children with MD • That learning occurs while the learner is actively involved. • That actively involved means initiating activity according to the learner's level of development and his interest. • That repetition of an activity is necessary for memory to be established. • That immediate repetition is the most effective with regard to retention. • That comparing objects reinforces the learning of object concept and object permanence • That interacting with objects and perceptualysing aids in various settings, such as at home, at school, indoors and outdoors supports the learner's ability to recognise, generalise and associate. • That opportunity to link one experience to another is important for achieving an holistic concept of the outside world. • That it is specifically important to link a new experience to familiar ones.

Issue 69 Summer 2006


A coming of age for Johanna • That linking experiences at the learner's choice, • • •

• • •

• •

enhances his self-concept. We learned to wait. We learned to observe. We learnt that the learner was able to concentrate on a certain activity for very long period of time –10 minutes, 20 minutes, yes, even for half an hour, if only the environment was raising the learner's interest, inquisitiveness, and motivation to explore. We learnt to keep quiet while the learner was active and learning. We learned to consider the learner's inner energy, and so refrain from requiring him to pay attention to different experiences simultaneously. We learned to be ready to share with the learner at the moment when the learner had a need for sharing, rather than interrupting actively by commenting or praising (Nielsen, 1992c). We learned to discover when the learner started to plan and initiate an activity. Henry was mentally retarded, had almost no muscle tonus, and had light perception – maybe a bit more

residual vision. Gradually he became able to empty my suitcase with toys and other objects. He did so by grasping one object, and handling or sucking it before releasing it. He enjoyed this activity. So much so, that he was unaware of my presence. One day he suddenly started to empty the suitcase by quickly removing the objects one by one. When the suitcase was empty he crawled inside. With his poor ability to move and to apply his muscles he had to work quite hard to finish his own initiative. I refrained from helping him. Finally he was lying on his back in the suitcase. He had a very proud facial expression. Then he initiated the hard work of closing the suitcase, thereby covering himself with the lid. Having succeeded he started to play with light and dark by lifting and lowering the lid. We all laughed a lot that afternoon. So, we learned to respect the learner's sudden initiatives. The complete paper is available from the editor at

Johanna's 'coming of age' Many of you will remember the picture of Johanna de Haas holding her cat, on the front cover of issue… in Information Exchange. Some of you will also have read her book ‘Making friends with Johanna’ which was written by her Catherine de Haas and her family, it describes her unusual ways of communication. Catherine has sent pictures of Johanna birthday when she entered the world of adulthood- a real celebration and achievement for Johanna. Here are photos of the happy event, which was celebrated with friends. (Unfortunately I was invited to the party but was not able to get there on that day; perhaps I will make it to the 21st! The editor)

The photos show the invitation, which has a photo of Johanna as a baby and the celebration photos on the day. Thanks Catherine and family for sharing such a happy occasion with the readers of Information Exchange.

Johanna has recently been very poorly and is in hospital 'get well soon Johanna' from everyone at Information Exchange 16

Issue 69 Summer 2006

Rag Bag To Buy A light den An Aladdin's cave of sensory stimuli, this science kit encompasses a wealth of visual products. Ideal for science and active play, it encourages visual exploration and tactile experience. It contains black out sheets, rainbow ball, rope lighting, see through torches and fibroptic lighting. The black out sheet goes over a table and creates a lovely mini-environment to set up for a special child to explore with a friend. Other visual effects can be added over time.

The horror ball is everything it promises. Not for the squeamish… The tactile transparent ball is filled with a hideous collection of disembodied body bits in a very suspicious red liquid. Only £2.99-teenagers will like this yuck effect! Fright light is a funky chunky and spooky torch, which emits spooky noises toosounds from a thunderstorm to a chilly laugh. It costs £9.99

The old favourite – the snake tin. Again, great for anticipation as you take off the lid of the peanut tin and out springs….! The snake! £1.99

The science light den costs £65.50 and details can be found on the website or call 0800 318 686 for a catalogue

The rainbow maker

They also do a cheap UVL torch at £6.95 and blackout/grey-out sheets that will completely block out all light when put together over a table or box.

NEW ITEMS from the one and only Hawkins bazaar or phone for catalogue 0870 429 4000 Shark attack, open the creatures jaws and press down on the teeth one at a time. Really good for hand function! Sooner or later you will find the tooth, which will make the jaws snap shut with a snap on your finger-it doesn't hurt, but the anticipation is tense!. Costs £4.99

Issue 69 Summer 2006

Sue Granger sent details of the rainbow maker a few editions ago, now Hawkins sell this lovely piece of equipment. It is in their catalogue and is £17.50 and here is a picture of it attached to a window.

The other picture is of her son Cal who is really intrigued with the rainbow creation!


Rag Bag To Buy Musical instruments from around the world The 'festival Shop' catalogue is well worth a look. It not only contains a wealth of practical materials to do with faiths and traditions, it has excellent musical instruments as well. They are reasonably priced and good quality. Further information from the new website at or call for a catalogue from 0121 444 0444. They are based in the Birmingham area. Here are some of the musical instruments, which are sold as a selection at ÂŁ80.00 for the set. They are made by local craftsmen and are authentic instruments.


Issue 69 Summer 2006

Rag Bag To Buy Signing Puppets Puppets are well recognised as a tool for encouraging the participation of pupils but these go one step further. This company produce a range of ventriloquist dolls (£25 + £5 p+p), animal puppets (from £4 each + £1 p+p) but the most unique were those that allowed the person holding them to use their own hands to communicate via sign language and gesture to pupils. Available as a boy or girl. £30 each + p+p. Contact: Tel: 02476 303228

Mood Balls These are cool colour-changing mood balls. They have a strong glow in the dark and the ball silently morphs through a series of colours. They are about the size of a tennis ball and the LED is battery powered (no wires) and soft to the touch, so won't break if dropped or thrown. Cost: £5 from

Disposable wristbands These are handy for daytrips and outings into the community. They can identify a child and also be used for contact numbers or medical details. See

– great numeracy resource. These excellent bags of geometric shapes, rings and balls are lovely and large to handle with ease.

Happy Geo Geometric shapes made out of plush material in bright colours, which are great for teaching shapes and patterns. The larger shapes have a smaller removable section in the same shape at the centre. Contents: two small triangles, two large triangles, one triangle 50 cm long, four small quadrangles, four large quadrangles, one rectangle 50cm long, four small rectangles, two large triangles. The set comes in a drawstring bag for storage. Cost: £51.95

Happy Rings Rings and balls made out of plush material in bright colours, which can be used for practising balancing and stacking skills, as well as colour recognition, whilst playing with the fun pieces. Set comes in a drawstring bag for storage, and contains: two balls, two sticks, two small rings, two medium rings and one large ring. Cost: £39.95

Dancing Water Tray

Both from: fax: 0800 929139 for catalogue

What an amazing dancing water tray! Further details from: or call 01299 8827820

Scented Stickers Jelly bean scented Peppermint scented

Happy Geo and Happy Rings

Coconut scented

Here are details of 'rub and smell' stickers which can be used to praise and reward. They come on a mixed sheet of 35 stickers for £1. The smells include jellybeans, banana, coconut, vanilla and peppermint. Find them in the 'Primary World' catalogue freephone: 0800 783 2468 for a catalogue

Magic Candle The Magic Candle. This is a lovely innovation - combining genuine aesthetic appeal with utility. The Magic Candle is a long lasting, battery powered candle that sits inside a tall, frosted-glass, candle holder. The pseudo candle is designed with a flickering light setting so that when you sit it inside the candle holder it looks completely realistic. At first we thought 'a fake candle - what could possibly be worse?'…. but the minute we saw it in action we were totally captivated - it really does look genuine. The Magic Candle gives off the kind of soft, hazy light that makes you wish you knew how to meditate. A safe alternative to real candles (but no wonderful smell when blown out!) Cost: £6.00 from

Issue 69 Summer 2006


Rag Bag To Buy Sensory Motor Path This path, which introduces young children to a variety of touches and textures, is constructed from seven hexagonal pieces each of which is 54 cm wide. All the pieces Velcro together so there are lots of different configurations and path patterns to be created. Each sturdily made piece is covered in a different machine washable colour and texture and is padded. Supplied in a strong carrier.

Here are three easy ways to see how plants grow – underground as well

Root TV Watch the roots grow before your very own eyes. A sturdy clear plastic tank 30cm x 30cm. Complete with feet for stability. Cost: £19.75

Cost: £79.95 each

Root Window

Further information fax: 0800 929139 for catalogue

Observe how roots grow with the Root Window. Discover how a plant takes water and nutrients through its roots and investigate how a plant's root growth is affected by the availability of light. Complementing the study of green plants, the kit comes complete with:

Spa Light These nifty little toys come with a removable sucker and are totally water-proof so you can stick them to your bathroom tiles, float them on the water or even stick them totally submerged on the side of the tub! They use 4AA batteries and are waterproof. Ideal to put in the water tray, or on the side of the hydrotherapy pool or in the washing up bowl! Cost: £7.00 from

• • • • • •

a root window with light shield carrot seeds radish seeds coir block wick notes

White Parachute

Cost: £27.95

The White Parachute is perfect for draping from your Sensory Room ceiling. Ideal for projecting onto and creating a softer atmosphere for your room. Available in three sizes. This will glow under UVL as well.

Clear Gel Growing Pots Plus Propagator


Medium White Parachute Large White Parachute Extra Large White Parachute

£49.75 £59.75 £79.75

And also White Projector Mat and Shelter This pop-up Mat and Shelter creates an instant projection theatre, enabling you to present projected images within anyone's field of vision. Ideal for bringing images close up to a person. Pops down easily into a small carrier bag. Cost: £23.95

See what happens over time 'below the surface'. The clear gel in the six gel pots contains all the elements required to root a cutting and sustain it for many weeks. The propagator will block light to the roots allowing them to grow. Cost: £10.99

The above three items are from TTS Tel: 0800 318686 or email:

Both the above are obtainable from: Spacekraft: details from:


Issue 69 Summer 2006

Rag Bag To Make Painted rock animals

Music makers

Rock animals rule okay!

Here are some ideas for making instruments that will produce all sorts of different sounds and vibrations. Make sure they are safely made.

A really simple but effective idea using rocks found in the garden or bought from the garden centre-a useful trip. Some people have pet rocks instead of a real animal! You will need: • A pile of smallish interesting stones and rocks (well washed) • A glue gun (for the adult to use) • Paints and brush or sponge to dab on a colour • Varnish and brush Method: • Wash the rocks and stone in a bowl of soapy water and dry • Sort the rocks with the artist and see if an animal can be seen in the shapes, a snake, a tortoise, a monster, and a dragon… • Use the glue gun to glue the rocks into the chosen shape • Allow to cool and stick properly • Sort out a range of colours to choose for the rock animals coat • Paint • Let the coat dry and apply a coat of clear varnish so the colour will last in the garden • Find a good place in the garden for the rock animal to live or place in a big flat bowl of sand with animals made by others in the group

Chocolate frozen banana lolly You will need the following ingredients to make a yummy banana lolly 4 firm but ripe bananas 1-cup chocolate chips (more if the group are chocoholics!) 1 TBS vegetable oil 1 cup of chopped peanuts, desiccated coconut or sugar sprinkles 8 wooden lolly sticks

Method Peel the bananas and cut diagonally in half Place nuts or sprinkles on a shallow dish Line a medium baking tin with greaseproof paper Put half the cup of choc chips in a bowl and melt in the microwave (takes about 30 seconds) • Stir in half the TBS of oil • Scrape into a shallow plate with a rim • Insert the lolly sticks into each banana half • Roll the banana in the melted choc (reheat chocolate if it goes hard) • Then roll in the nuts or sprinkles • Place on plate and put in the freezer for an hour to freeze • Eat and enjoy!

• • • •

Issue 69 Summer 2006


Rag Bag To Make Magnet hands

Some excellent ideas from Mike Coleman in Westgate-on-Sea. – Thank you Mike!

These simple magnet hands will delight anyone and the magnet firmly attaches them to a fridge door

Ripping Times

You will need: • A roll of sticky-back magnet strip • Paints and a paint brush or sponge • Thin card • See-through adhesive book covering • Scissors Method: • Enable artist to cover the palm of their hand with squishy paint (use a brush or sponge- or put the paint in a tray and dip in) • Place hand on card firmly to make a colourful print • Allow to dry • Repeat with the other hand • Cover the card on both sides with sticky back covering • Cut out hands • Stick magnet strip firmly on the back of each one • Now there are two lovely hands to stick on the fridge door!

Pool players with limited motor control may rip the table baize with their cue. For a temporary repair, place a section on duck tape, sticky side up, under the rent, then press down the torn flaps and dust any exposed tacky surfaces with talc.

Sonic Sounds In order to locate your keys, novelty shops sell sonic key fobs that bleep when you whistle. They are cheap and great for hide and seek types of children's games, particularly for those who are visually impaired. To prevent the device going off when not in use, place in a deep drawer or box.

Comments from recently retired readers of Information Exchange – enjoy your retirement!

Touchy Feely Smelly! Herbal grain bags are sold as bed warmers. If heated briefly in a microwave oven, they can provide a pleasing, aromatic, hand-held object for children. They can be used many times, even with regular gentle washing.

Getting to Grips Some children find it difficult to grip crayons. To overcome this, try carefully cutting a cross incision with a bread knife, to two thirds depth of a tennis ball sized foam ball. Then insert a large crayon. This can then be clasped.


Issue 69 Summer 2006

Chillout Zone – Teenagers Fashion Angels This 'fashion angel kit' is great for young designers to express their preferences for trendy fashion. Each sturdy paper doll measures about 38cm tall and comes with glitter, ribbons, sequins, buttons and fun fabrics to create a trendy wardrobe. A fabric swatch book is also available to use with the kit. The kit costs £18.99 and the extra fabric book is £5.99 Available from or call 01904 696990

“My Future Choices” Magazines Have a look at “My Future Choices”, which is published by the Transition Information Network. It aims to feature new opportunities for disabled and learning disables young people across the UK.

What's Happening? The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, worked with 16 young people with learning disabilities to find out what makes them feel anxious or depressed. Using video and photo diaries the young people talked about how they felt.

The 'What's Happening?' DVD features three young people from the research project. They talk about how their lives became difficult or unhappy and what helped them to start to feel better. The DVD is intended to help other young people, families and practitioners identify and learn from their experiences. £5.00 £15.00

Young people and carers Professionals or other organisations

Making Us Count

Further details from:

This report includes research based evidence and practical advice on supporting young people and their family carers as they move into adulthood. The report was written with care managers, senior service managers and interested practitioners in mind.

For details of subscriptions tel: 020 7619 7244 We're very proud to introduce the Mood Beams – these funky little colour changing lights are a gadgetshop UK first! Each Moon Beam is a unique shape, sporting a unique facial expression. Vaguely reminiscent of Casper the ghost, (but at least twice as cute), they cycle through an array of cheerful, ambient colours casting pleasing little puddles of light about the room. They come with a variety of settings which allow you to control the speed at which they cycle through the colours (with one setting that's so fast it feels like looking at a strobe). They're also sensitive to sound, so if you sit them beside your radio or CD player, they'll change colour in time to the beat of the music. Cost: £10.00

Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities

£7.50 £17.50

Carers Professionals or other organisations

Download a summary of the report free of charge at

For further information or to order any of these resources please contact: Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities Sea Containers House 20 Upper Ground London SE1 9QB Tel: Email: Fax: Web:

Issue 69 Summer 2006

0207 803 1100 0207 803 1111


Healthy information The Skyship With most special schools and settings having hoists to assist the movement of children/adults with physical disability here is a great idea - an Intergalactic Hoist. The hoist has a skyship which is loaded with a cassette that starts a show of LED lighting and sounds. The cassette works with Helping Hand Company Sky Frame Systems and aims to • provide a distraction for those not used to hoists • blend in with sensory rooms and bedrooms • brighten a clinical environment • have some fun Further details from: The Helping Hand Company 01531 635388

Spotlight on epilepsy

The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy has relaunched its website. The site offers information on education, care, health, outreach, rehabilitation and assessment services for children with epilepsy and other neurological disorders at:

Recognising mental health problems in people with high support needs Research by the Foundation shows that identifying mental health problems in people with profound and multiple learning difficulties can be difficult. The Foundation has produced a new training pack to help carers overcome this. The Well-being Workshop pack was developed by family carers to focus on the more common causes of mental health problems, including: change and transition health issues loss and bereavement supportive therapies.

Stephen's story

Stephen became withdrawn when his grandmother died. However, his family were so trapped by their own grief they did not recognise how it affected Stephen.


The Well-being Workshop pack costs £35.00. To buy a copy please phone: 020 7803 1101 or email:

New look for epilepsy website

The Well-being Workshop

• • • •

The family tried to help him by showing him photographs of happy times with Grandma and explained that she was tired and needed to go to sleep for a long time. Before her death, Stephen's grandmother recorded her voice to be included in a Christmas present and the family play this periodically to him. This has been hugely beneficial in contributing to Stephen's understanding of his grandmother's death.

If you want information about epilepsy and photosensitivity then go to click on: leaflets and download epilepsy and photosensitivity.

Epilepsy Gill Parkinson and Mike Johnson Epilepsy is neither an illness nor a disease, but rather a tendency of the brain to be triggered to cause a spasm, a seizure or a fit, when neurones malfunction temporarily. Seizures can vary from major attacks which involve the whole brain to very minor, momentary 'absences'. This practical and informative book provides advice on the most effective teaching and learning strategies that can be used in the classroom to help students with epilepsy. Out May 2006 Cost: £8.99 from bookstores and

Issue 69 Summer 2006

Research Forum from Sue Granger in France Here is a run down of some of the most interesting and thought provoking research to be published over the last few months... this time focusing on school and play.

‘Reinstating the value of teachers’ tacit knowledge for the benefit of learners: using ‘Intensive Interaction’ by Melanie Nind and Gary Thomas. (June 2006). British Journal of Learning Disabilities Volume 34 Page 103 - June 2006.

How do teachers view your son or daughter? All teachers are different of course, but this recent study looked at the views of a small subset of teachers of children with PMLD in the North of England. The results make interesting reading, with lots of direct quotes from teachers about how exactly they see their individual learners. All these teachers have a wealth of information at hand on their pupil: neurological and developmental for example, as well as the vital information that comes from parents. They were seen to ‘embrace positive views of pupils with PMLD as learners’. At the same time it was felt that they needed, and wanted, support to integrate modern views of disability and PMLD into work within their classrooms. More ‘modern views’ included those derived from the social model of disability, describing how we can better appreciate and respect the contributions people with PMLD give to society. One key way of doing this was suggested to be through increasing the status and influence parental contributions to learning. See ‘Teachers’ views of their pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties’ by Phyllis Jones. (2005). The Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. Volume 5. Number 3. pp 97–100 Why teachers should trust their instincts… Is there too much theory dictating just how children with severe disabilities should be taught – and not enough reliance on our instincts to just treat them as simply … children? This article suggests we are sometimes guilty of being too concerned (and perhaps feeling obliged to be concerned) with all the latest theoretical and experimental ‘methods’ and models of teaching (instrumental enrichment, conductive education, behaviour modification to name but a few…). Instead, the authors argue: ‘We should trust in our experience and understanding of perplexity, fear, interest, anxiety, friendship, worry, loneliness, boredom. We know what it is to be confident, over-confident or to feel self-doubt or paralyzing fear. We know what it is to imitate or to have inspiration. We have self-knowledge, and this is surely our principal tool in helping us to understand and teach others.’ This article comes from one of the originators of the ‘Intensive Interaction’ approach which focuses on drawing on all the educator’s natural abilities to develop relationships with children based on those involved in parental interactions. The authors argue that there is a need for ‘a reinstatement of confidence in teachers’ tacit knowledge and intuitive skill’ and less emphasis on finding new ‘techniques’ to educate children with severe disabilities - what these children need the authors claim, is just the same as what other children need. Interesting read. See

And when schools out, why we all need to play… This study looks at the nature and importance of play in children with PMLD. Just like for other children, the author argues, play is essential for learning and early stimulation, as well as the development of communication yet it is often ignored by researchers. As someone who has long been concerned with play in children with PMLD, she discusses the importance of play, and how play skills can develop slowly and perhaps need to be ‘taught’ to some degree. We should also expect individual differences: hard objects can sometimes be preferred as toys, especially by children with multiple disabilities and autism (children without disabilities often prefer soft). Favourite toys among children with PMLD can vary between household objects, balls, mirrors, objects made of hard plastic, empty matchboxes, and so on. Perhaps because these objects are very consistent in shape (whatever you do with them) and give good auditory feedback when banged on the wall or floor, and in this way provide nice reliable, consistent feedback – they always do the same thing. For more see ‘Diversity of aspects on play in children with profound multiple disabilities’ by Jane Brodin (November 2005) in Early Child Development and Care (journal), Volume 175, No. 7-8. Pages 635-646. Interested in... ...reading a review of one of these articles in Information Exchange?Just let us know. If enough requests come for an article I will happily review it for you.Want to get hold of one of these articles? Try British Library Direct on their website You can buy individual articles for a small fee which they will either email to you, or send in the post. If you do not have a computer at home go to your local library (most have computers for the public to use and will help you). They may also be able to order you the article themselves on an 'Inter Library loan'. Alternatively try your local University library (if you have one!). They will often issue you a day pass into the library if you speak nicely, and advise you on how to locate the article. You can usually search their catalogue on-line to see if they have the journal before you make a wasted journey. Meanwhile if you would like to hear about research on a specific topic, or would like a paper review in depth just get in touch via the editor! Sue Granger Please note, this is not intended as an exhaustive, or representative review of all current literature. Nor can I vouch for the articles themselves, this is one for you to make your own mind up on.

Issue 69 Summer 2006


Electronic exchange Sleep disturbance and children with complex needs

Songs of love (Sally Silverman's husband Howard, spotted this information in a flight magazine-thanks for the tip off!)

The following website gives information regarding sleep disturbance

'Songs of love' or the' medicine of music' is a non-profit making organisation that is dedicated to providing personalised songs for very ill or special children and young adults. There are over 350 talented music writers or musicians who are volunteering to do this on the website, for such special people.

Curriculum information A good website for educators is one that gives lots of ideas for primary education that can be utilised for special learners. There are downloadable flash and PowerPoint files for subjects such as maths and science. Anyone looking for some good courses on 'Sherborne movement' or 'touch and massage' need to have a look at Heathermount school website for details of courses run throughout the year. The website is or call the Learning Centre on 01344 637903

’Faith in Practise’

Their services are free and to find out more have a look at their website to see and hear the special songs -then get organised to arrange one for a special child or young adult YOU know…

Two new sensory stories from Pete Wells! Pete Wells is the very mad and rude teacher who has some amazing materials on his website-he is brilliant at the unconventional and the rude side of life-often missing in officialdom. It is just what very special students need to brighten up the day-remember that research tells us youngsters smile around 300 times a day-Pete's work helps fill that quota Here is his message:

A new film highlights how faith communities can support people with learning disabilities Last June, the Foundation for people with learning disabilities premiered their new short film at the Globe Theatre in London. Religious leaders from major faiths, people with learning disabilities and their supporters went to the premiere of the film, which highlights how communities can include special people. A team of special people were involved in the production of the film. It examines how the Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Hindu faiths can support people with learning disabilities. Faith leaders and special people feature in the film.

“There are two new sensory stories on my website. The first one is a sensory story with a difference. It's a make your own sensory story that has been designed to let you pop your own students names in so you can personalise it for your class. The focus of the story is body awareness and it's called 'Webster witches ugly potion'. In the story, horrible old Webster witch is making a new ugly potion so she needs bits and bobs from the members of your group to go in her grotty pot. Of course it all goes madly wrong at the end.

'Faith in practise' is available in DVD and video format. Copies are priced at £12.50 but are free to people with learning disabilities and their carers.

The second is a story, which I thought, was dead original but I've since found out is had been written by everyone and his cat! It's called 'My teacher is an alien' and it explores students' perceptions of the strange teachers that teach themsupersonic hearing, eyes in the back of our heads…

Contact or or 020 7803 1130 for your free copy

Both stories can be downloaded from the sensory story bit of


Issue 69 Summer 2006

Electronic exchange Child Brain Injury Trust The Child Brain Injury Trust has an excellent section on its website that provides information to teachers. This has been provided by the Leeds Neuro-rehabilitation team. Tel: 0845 601 49339 (M,T,W,Th. 10-1:00) Educating Children with Acquired Brain Injury by S. Walker & B Wicks (David Fulton Publishers) is an excellent and readable book that provides practical advice to schools.

Citizenship Education for Young People with SEN – A Teaching Resource This resource, from the Institute of Citizenship, is available to download and includes activities developed by teachers and piloted in schools.

Online Games and Activities for Pupils with Profound Multiple or Severe Learning Difficulties • This site has a range of simple games that can be

The activities are targeted at pupils with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties (SLD and PMLD) between the ages of 11 and 16 but are suitable for a wider ability and age range. There are 11 themes which include; • emotion cards • community and voluntary groups • conflict resolution • diversity and identity • environment • global community • government • groups and identity • media • rights and responsibilities • school councils • links to other subjects • key skills • useful organisations Details from

used with PMLD and SLD pupils.

• Another very useful website that provides access to a wide range of downloadable software is that of Priory Woods School

• Kingsbury Special School's website is also well worth a visit.

'Oops! You will remember the excellent article from Angela in the Spring edition of 'Information Exchange' – all about trails at Milestone school. The address was incorrect (my fault says the editor!) so here is the right one. Have a look at the back cover to see more about this fascinating new venture. Milestone School Longford Lane Gloucester GL 29EU have a look at the back cover for further information

Issue 69 Summer 2006


Dee Bank school art project

Sally Slater from the editorial board, sent these photos to Information Exchange. They are of students at Dee Bank School participating in an exciting art and craft collage using a multitude of different media including recycling materials. The end results are fantastic and the process of making the art – very absorbing!


Amulet (by Ted Hughes) Poetic Props. Make a large furry bag to contain all the artefacts for the poem. Collect as many as possible so they help the sequence of words, e.g. a bright torch with a North Star attached. Poetic Scenario. Darken the room for this mysterious poem and put on the cold fan for the snow wind (use confetti).

Inside the wolf's fang, the mountain of heather. Inside the mountain of heather, the wolf's fur. Inside the wolf's fur, the ragged forest. Inside the ragged forest, the wolf's foot. Inside the wolf's foot, the stony horizon. Inside the stony horizon, the wolf's tongue. Inside the wolf's tongue, the doe's tears. Inside the doe's tears, the frozen swamp. Inside the frozen swamp, the wolf's blood. Inside the wolf's blood, the snow wind. Inside the snow wind, the wolf's eye. Inside the wolf's eye, the North star. inside the North star, the wolf's fang. (Ted Hughes)

This Is Just to Say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox

This Is Just to Say

and which you were probably saving for breakfast

(by William Carlos Williams)

Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold

Extended Scenarios. Enact the poem around the refrigerator. Use another fruit and change the plums.

Poetic Props. Cold plums!

(William Carlos Williams)


Issue 69 Summer 2006

3DTV Welcome to a completely new concept-3DTV. This is achieved by using clips from the most popular of the soap operas and adding special effects from the viewing audience. Most people (even if they don't admit it) follow a soap opera during the week. This includes special people, as it will be part of the evening's activities at home or in respite care. The familiar theme tune that floats around the room will be an excellent sound clue of what is to happen next…East Enders, Neighbours or perhaps Casualty. The story line follow similar themes too, birth, death, relationships, family life, domestic harmony or not and the odd police or hospital incident thrown in for good measure! Here is a sample programme which was originally set by Marion Janner, Lloyd Pace and helped out by Flo Longhorn at a MENCAP event held at the university of Reading. Coronation Street 3DTV Setting up Coronation 3DTV You will need the following to set up a Coronation Street 3DTV, remember the episode you put together can be used over and over and over… because that's what happens on telly, lots of repeats. You can also get compilations of the series and this may be useful to capture past events, a wedding, a police chase a punch up…….. Materials Tape a selection of scenes from the latest episodes of Coronation Street on the TV. No more than 10 to 15 minutes of clips so they can be repeated and no one loses interest. Make sure they are distinct in their plot and have very familiar characters known to everyone by voice, actions or dress. There are various scenarios to capture as well, the Rovers Return, the corner shop, Ken Barlow's front room, Ron's cafe or the clothes factory, for example. The theme song on tape, so that it can be repeated to awaken interest. The adverts are important too, they reflect modern culture very well and are usually attention grabbers

Collect some soap opera magazines to pass around -you can also take photos from them, laminate and use as prompts Look at the scenes collected and see if you can put some props to them that the audience can use and participate-a bit like the addicts who go to see 'the Rocky horror show' and produce the props throughout the show! Here are some ideas, of materials that were provided by Marion – you can see the props in the picture. Most of them came by post from (well known to readers of Information Exchange!) • Kazoos -to hum along to the theme tune • keys to the Barlow's house • can of beer and beer mug for the pub • Police helmet with flashing light and whistles • Windy street-fan • Corner shop-pass around the sweets and newspapers • Party poppers for a party • Apron pork pie and mug for the café • Bubbles for the end of the scenes • Funny face to go on the fingers to change emotions as needed • Flick book to imitate a movie sequence a sit is flicked • Cadbury chocolate for the beginning advert • Dog biscuit, lead and collar for the dog Scenario • Set up the TV or put the clip through an interactive white screen • Provide soap magazines to flick through • Bar of chocolate ready to pass around for the beginning advert • Kazoos to hum the tune Then it is up to you what materials will provide the clues to the pictures on the screen. Rewind a scene and practise it again and make sure the theme keeps popping up to refresh memories about the episode. Have a look at this website for further ideas for a range of other ideas designed for special people. Go to a soap opera website such as 'East-enders' or 'Neighbours' – really excellent

Issue 69 Summer 2006


Drama The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade

(by Alfred Lord Tennyson, abridged)

Half a league, half a league Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.

Poetic Props. coconut shells for horses' hooves trumpets soldier hats (period) flags music from “1812 Overture” Poetic Scenario. Use the multisensory room with a projection of flames, quick moving spotlights, flashes of light the mirror ball revolving quickly. A fog machine adds the gunpowder smoke.

Cannon to the right of them, Cannon to the left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell, Rode the six hundred. Cannon to the right of them, Cannot to the left of them, Cannon behind them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came thro' the jaws of Death Back from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.

Jabberwocky 'Twas brilig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the waves: All mimsy were the borogroves, And the mome raths outgrabe. 'Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The furious Bandersnatch! He took his vorpal sword in hand: long time the manzome foe he sought so rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought. (Lewis Carroll)


(Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Jabberwocky (by Lewis Carroll) Poetic Props. Let your imagination run riot with 'slithy toves', 'borogroves', 'Jubjub birds', etc.! Poetic Scenario. Simply enjoy the completely nonsensical sounds and words, lots of shouts, excellent rhymes.

Issue 69 Summer 2006

Conferences and courses Conferences and courses 7 and 8 December 2006

Play and communication with pupils with visual impairment and additional support needs – Mary Lee, Royal Blind School, Edinburgh (an excellent presenter – the editor) 2-day course looking at play and active learning and how this motivates communication In Edinburgh contact:

Two-day Sensology courses with Flo Longhorn and Richard Hirstwood

ICT for children who are blind or partially sighted with additional difficulties

– Looking at appropriate software adaptations, empowerment through ICT and assisting and monitoring ICT skills In Nottingham on 15 September 2006 contact: RNIB at e& 0115 958 2322

Bringing literature alive: storytelling and sensory communication for children and young adults who are blind or partially sighted with or without additional needs – Keith Parks, the co-founder of 'story tracks' and amazing presenter and dramatist

9/10 October at the Leeds Armouries 9/10 November at Chester Zoo 4/5 and 8/9 December in London

Contact Lois 01524 426395

First national Guidelines for medication for behaviour problems in Adults with learning Disability FREE Full details of a range of dates and venues on

In Nottingham on 29 September 2006 contact as above

Issue 69 Summer 2006


Information Exchange - Summer 2006  

Information Exchange magazine - Issue 69 - Summer 2006

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