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Issue 70 Winter 2006


Heidi the Christmas fairy, a dream come true!


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Contents 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.

Editors page

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

£350.00 £250.00 £150.00 £75.00

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.


Issue 70 Winter 2006


Editorial Editorial

The Information Exchange Editorial Team 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:

Editorial and Administration Address 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:

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Sharing Good Practice Bleasdale House Community Special School is situated in Silverdale. The school is a residential school and caters for pupils aged 2-19 who have Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties, associated sensory impairments and complex needs. Many of our pupils have visual impairment. Staff within the school are able to use their expertise to share good practice and advise staff in other schools. Recently Bleasdale House School played a major role in hosting a CENTRA Conference on Assessment for Learning. The day was devoted to the PMLD pupil and delegates came from a widespread area, including:

Billingham, Nottingham, Gateshead, Warrington, Wirral, Newcastle upon Tyne, Huddersfield, Blackpool, Leeds, Blackburn, Preston, Middlesbrough, Ulverston, Manchester, Sheffield, Northwich, Consett, and Mansfield. Richard Aird was the Keynote Speaker, along with his wife, Karen. Staff within the school ran a series of workshops with pupils, which included Sensory Science, Literacy, Technology and Textiles and Music, Swimming and a demonstration of how we adapt the Sherborne Movement.

Sensory Science The objectives of the science workshop were to give ideas for age appropriate sensory activities for National curriculum topics. The topics ‘How we smell things’, ‘How we hear things’, and ‘How we feel things’ were demonstrated with a group of KS3 and 4 pupils who all have Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and Complex needs. To represent the fact ‘smells are invisible chemicals floating in the air’, a sari infused with perfume was wafted above the participants. To represent the fact ‘as you breathe in, smells travel up your nose/, Japanese fans were wafted with force. Giant fennel, grown in the class garden, was explored as a starter activity to the ‘How we smell things’ lesson. Hints and tips for including PMLD pupils in other science activities were also discussed.

Pupils experiencing smell (Fennel, grown in the class garden), and wind using a sari and perfume spray.

Music This workshop looked at music as a multi-sensory approach, using music as a tool to access and enhance all areas of the curriculum: including history, geography and maths as well as dance, movement and massage.

Delegates enjoying a hands on experience


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Sharing Good Practice Literacy The Literacy workshop gave a brief overview of the school and its Literacy provision designed for pupils working between P levels 1 to 3. Delegates observed a demonstration lesson, where pupils experienced a shared read using a sensory text in conjunction with an animated PowerPoint. Pupils then demonstrated their literacy skills and participated in supported group work where the text was explored in more depth, using a variety of sensory materials to represent the story. Key words concentrated on pupils’í senses in order to direct the appropriate responses targeted, and the plenary provided a focus for Assessment for Learning and the celebration of pupils’í achievements. A display of sample texts, resources and detailed planning was available for delegates to peruse and to share in Bleasdale’ís approach to literacy. The examples shown provided delegates with inspiration and ideas to take back to their own school environments.

Pupils experiencing a Sensory Story through the use of Powerpoint, switches and Objects of Reference.

Technology and Textiles During this workshop delegates were able to participate in a range of activities alongside pupils from classes within school, using a variety of techniques with textiles as the focus. Topics included paper pulp making, fusing textiles, resist work, transfer prints, felt making and ways of enhancing and using textiles. All the activities had previously been used successfully with pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Pupils demonstrated how to operate the liquidiser using a switch, how to make paper pulp, making this accessible for all. Following this , pupils were assisted to make their own textiles by demonstrating fusing using a variety of materials sandwiched between 2 pieces of clear contact.. The tufting activity proved to be popular with delegates producing some highly imaginative pictures by pushing small squares of fabric into a polystyrene tile with foam handles. Finally, everyone participated in making a small piece of felt, a very therapeutic way to end the session.

A pupil enjoying making paper pulp using a switch to activate the liquidiser.

The delegates participated in the fun!

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Sharing Good Practice The Sherborne Movement This workshop showed how the work carried out in the Sherborne sessions at Bleasdale House School is an adaptation of the work of Veronica Sherbourne, to meet the needs of pupils with PMLD. who are unable to access all of the activities within a full Sherborne session. Movement experiences are fundamental to the development of all children, but particularly important to children with special needs, who often have difficulty relating to their own bodies and to other people. Sherborne sessions offer the experience of movement, body awareness and body contact.

Pupils enjoying the relaxation and music.

Swimming The lack of information available on swimming courses has led people working in the field to be isolated and unsure of the most effective teaching strategies for pupils with PMLD. Sharing expertise and ideas is a great way to develop the curriculum for our pmld pupils. At Bleasdale House School we have our own warm therapy pool and experienced swimming teacher. An extensive range of curriculum activities are used in the pool, based on the National Curriculum P.E. activity specific (Swimming), with modifications and substitutions to meet pupils’í individual needs. These experiences and appropriate learning opportunities, together with imaginative resources using auditory and visual input, provide excellent opportunities for individual development. The whole pool environment is computerised. Music and lighting can be added as necessary and the under water lights and dancing fountains all add to the effect. It is amazing to see our pupils move independently in the water.

Pupils experiencing freedom of movement in the water For information on other Days planned for the future please contact : Kairen Dexter (Deputy Head) Bleasdale House School, 27 Emesgate Lane, Silverdale, Lancs LA5 0RG. Telephone 01524 701217


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Book, CD & DVD Reviews Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the Early Years: A Guide for Practitioners

There is also a new book just ready for Christmas called:

Dr. Rita Jordan

“The Night before Christmas”

The numbers of children with these conditions seem to be increasing and staff are being faced with the difficulties of helping these children learn and develop. This book will provide you with a practical understanding to help you achieve this. Although aimed at those working in early years settings, this will also be helpful to parents of young children with ASD. Sections include:

• diagnoses; • understanding ASDs; • educational goals and specialist approaches; • working with parents; • building communication; • developing social understanding and enabling play; • managing behaviour.

Both books are exceptional under ultra violet light – an enchanting magic land of experience. Price £19.99 Published by Simon and Schuster (ISBN 1-416-90468-9)

Free!! Brilliant!! Well-done Wales!!

The main areas of concern are addressed in a clear and readable style, always with a practical focus, and short examples, on what needs to be done and the principles to guide your practice.

From the Welsh Assembly: Routes for Learning

103 pages (Product Code ASD) Price £8.00 (inclusive of postage and packing) Tel: 01785 620364 Email: Website:

“A Winter’s Tale” by Robert Sabuda

The Routes for Learning materials will support schools in assessing the early communication and cognitive skills of learners with profound learning difficulties and additional disabilities whose progress will not necessarily be hierarchical. The materials meet the very individual needs of these learners by showing a range of possible learning pathways. These materials have been designed to be used across the curriculum with learners of all ages and may be a resource for teachers, support staff, school managers, LEA advisory staff and trainers in Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET) institutions. The pack contains: Routes for Learning – Assessment booklet Routes for Learning – Additional guidance Routemap: example sheet Routes for Learning DVD Case study DVD

The simple, elegant text is illustrated with breathtaking artwork and extraordinary paper engineering. Stunning visual effects of foil, glitter and a twinkling surprise further capture the magic of winter. This is the most beautiful pop-up book I have ever seen ~ Flo Longhorn

Copies of this pack are available by contacting the Welsh assembly at 0870 242 3207

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Book, CD & DVD Reviews Have you seen the manual

’An integrated pathway for assessment and support-for children with complex needs and their families’? Information can be found on This book would be of particular interest to therapists working together on updating and maintaining care pathways for children with profound disability.

A reminder to readers about this excellent, well-researched book, all about

Learning Through Touch

My granny’s purse’ and my granddads brief case’ by P. Hanson ‘My granny’s purse’ and ‘My grandpa’s briefcase’ are the most wonderful interactive books for everyone. They bulge with different activities, mementoes, life lessons and jam-packed joy. With granddad you will find tongue twisters, you can use his favourite whoopee cushion and you can even tie shoelaces and put on his specs. Granny’s purse is just as exciting as you enter a treasure chest of memories, magic and special treats (a little box of chocolates!) Peek inside her notebook. Try on her leopard skin glasses. Look in her mirror. Tie a bow. Open the envelope and put on her rings.

Mike McLinden and Steve McCall are based at Birmingham University and they have written a very readable book that covers every aspect of our biggest sensory system the tactile system. It covers a variety of areas, which are all very relevant to very special learners. It is available on or at your bookseller. Highly recommended.

Health Presenting Puree

– presentation skills and ideas for pureed meals Department of Health and Human Services, Tasmania Pureed food can be very boring…try a few days of pureed food and you will understand what it’s like! Even though the texture may need to be consistent consider the taste and smell. A large percentage of what we call “taste” is actually provided by our sense of smell. For example, the smell of an orange provides approximately 75% of what we perceive as “taste” when eating an orange!

Granny’s motto is ‘be happy and don’t throw anything away’ Granddads wisdom says’ count your pennies and count your blessings’. These books are a treat and you can find them on Or order at a bookshop. They are about £9 each and worth every penny.

“Need help and ideas on how to create enticing and appetising pureed meals? Presenting Puree is full of information on nutrition and the pureed diet and tips for preparing, cooking, blending and presenting pureed food”. Cost per Booklet: NZ$20.00 (including GST) + NZ$5.00 postage and packaging For further information contact: Megan Hanley – Ph (03) 6222 7305 Email: Kate Stansbie – Ph (03) 6230 7600 Email: Found in the ECAPPSS newsletter from Austalia


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Romeo and Juliet – Dorin Park School style! Each summer term the senior pupils at Dorin Park School in Chester use performing arts to support the Shakespeare they study in English. A script is created and a dance choreographed with the pupils and it was so good that it was performed at the ‘Step up and dance’ festival at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester in July.

Romeo and Juliet is great as it works on so many levels and the pupils enjoy the teenage themes of parents nagging you and partying and falling in love! The language is so musical too and the text was taught through songs and chants and all the pupils could recognize and enjoy some bits. They loved the specially created song that was written to the tune of ‘There was a princess long ago’. The first verse went: ‘There was a girl called Juliet, Juliet a Capulet, There was a girl called Juliet, Long long ago’. There were special Romeo and Juliet puppets to go with the song. The book was 10 pages of different aspects of the story and then the very special pupils followed each aspect up with something practical and related to them. The masked ball was particularly enjoyed with mask making and making and sampling different foods.

L Here is the story sack and items from it

Here are some pictures of the pupils making the items for the story sack

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Romeo and Juliet – Dorin Park School style! All the pupils joined in the dances and the music, with some pupils dancing and some playing instruments. The movements were simple but effective and representing enmity with red and black sticks, then love and reconciliation with scarves. Here are some pupils performing the dance.

This is the third year that the special pupils of Dorin Park School have enjoyed Shakespeare in this way, previously writing and performing Midsummer Nights Dream and The Tempest. They must be excellent at it because they will be performing the play at the Theatre Clwyd in Mold in February as part of the BBC1 Night of Shakespeare. Good luck to them and well done to all the pupils and staff.

Poetry – ‘The Black Pebble’ Have a look at this poem all about the adventures of three children who go down to the beach and discover all sorts on the sand and in the sea. The bag has the poem attached for easy reading and it holds the objects found – shells, green glass and a black stone. As the poem is read, the objects are found in the bag, examined and passed around the listeners. They can go to the seaside too...


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Dangly activities from Lister Lane School What an exciting little room full of the most interesting things to explore when sitting, using a wheelchair or lying on the floor in a cosy enclosed space

A simple frame holds sensory delights from a feminine point of view, and touch and hold………..and sniff

A revolving indoors clothes dryer offers an exciting range of objects that are interesting to hold, smell, twirl and make sounds

This is a desk size frame that can encourage reach grasp…..and investigate

This is a teenager mobile using a revolving peg line and objects of interest to a student

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Dangly activities from Lister Lane School

Lots of fishy creatures on this underwater mobile using the circular peg holder

A simple mobile of interesting articles using a clothes dryer and ribbons to secure the objects

A washing up and cleaning mobile using a peg washing line


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Lilli Nielsen writes..... This is the second article sent to Information Exchange, by Lilli Nielsen. She looks carefully at how the child with visual impairment requires sensitive understanding in order to enable them to actively learn using their hands. Copies of her books are obtainable from

‘How the Approach of Guiding the Hands of the Visually Impaired Child Can Disturb his Opportunity to Build Up Strategies for Tactile Orientation’

This means that the information coming from the haptic receptors is necessary for the visually impaired child if he is to perceive the qualities of the objects or the environments that he is exposed to. This perception can easily be disturbed if the child's hand is guided, because some of the child's haptic receptors will be activated by the touch and pressure of the adult's hand thus bringing to the child information which has nothing to do with the object or the environment that the child is supposed to perceive. According to Baddeley (1986) the child can only establish a memory if he has opportunity to repeat his experiences. This means that when the child starts to combine the information coming from his kinaesthetic and tactile receptors as well as when he combines new haptic experiences with those already stored, he will also have to repeat such cognitive activities. Building up strategies for tactile orientation Van der Poel (1988) mentions that the visually impaired child has at his disposal only weak strategies for solving cognitive problems regarding spatial orientation.

By Lilli Nielsen, PhD Denmark When a sighted person wants to show an object or an environment to a child or an adult who is visually impaired, the sighted person often uses the approach of guiding the child's or adults hand(s) over the surface of the object or from one specific spot of the environment to another one. The person who is visually impaired seems to dislike being exposed to this approach. Even the infant who is blind reacts to this approach with disappointment or by withdrawing his hand. Is this reaction just an emotional protest or should it rather be seen as the child trying to protect his cognitive abilities? Introduction In a review of the development of the haptic-perceptual modality Van der Poel (1988) states that "Adequate stimulation of the haptic receptors leads to perception of touch, pressure, temperature and pain. In this way the surface of the skin becomes prepared for the ability to assimilate specific information. This leads to haptic consciousness. When the child starts to become conscious about the specific meaning of different haptic experiences a cognitive coupling takes place and thus prepares the child for more sophisticated haptic perception". Van der Poel also refers to Warren (1982) who has stated that the infant, in the beginning, is satisfied with the haptic experience itself. Together with the maturing of the cognitive processes a move from performing subjective to more objective and meaningful activities is taking place, so that the child can acquire knowledge about his surroundings by means of the haptic-perceptual modality.

Edelman (1994) states that the child learns by selecting. With regard to acquiring strategies for tactile search Edelman's statement means that the visually impaired child will have to discover different strategies by means of his own activities and so develop several strategies to select from. Observations of blind persons, both children and adults, while performing tactile search of an object or an environment show that the blind person develops different strategies for different purposes or tasks. The first strategy used for exploring a novel object may be perfunctory. The second, third or fourth time the child explores this object he may use a strategy which includes more differentiated exploration, and perform more repetitions of that way of exploring. Or maybe, in some situations, the strategy of differentiated search is used immediately, followed by a more perfunctory strategy after which the object may have become so familiar that only a slight touch is necessary to call forth in the visually impaired person's mind the image or the map of the entire object. While the child is building up strategies for tactile orientation he will also add to the haptic information the information he can achieve from other sensory modalities. Although the child during the first year of life will depend very much on the olfactory sensory modalities while building up his strategies for tactile orientation he will later often prefer to gain support from the auditory sensory modality. To build up sensory-based strategies for imagining and mapping objects and environments and to do so on his own is an important part of the visually impaired child's cognitive development.

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Lilli Nielsen writes..... The following figure shows the steps of the cognitive process of learning to imagine and to map objects and surroundings.

person two hours later, in a third way by a third person at 2 pm, and in a fourth way by a fourth person at 5 pm, the result will be that the child is presented with so many strategies, that it leads to total chaos, bewilderment and frustration. This approach will also result in the child having too little time for and too few opportunities to build up his own strategies.

Information from the Sensory Modalities of Hearing Touch Smell Taste Kinaesthetic Ability Are by Means of Repetitions Stored in the Child's Memory

From this point of view it is not surprising that so many visually impaired children withdraw their hands, or become unwilling to touch anything at all. Poor tactile and haptic development also affect the child's control over his own body. Guiding the child's hand is restricting his movements. Since his spatial skills are based on movements (Nielsen, 1989, 1992, 1994; Van der Poel, 1988) he loses his control over his own body as well as the environment whenever his movements are restricted.

According to the Child's Experiences a Cognitive Process Establishes in the Memory Categories, Associations and Connexions and the Ability to Recognize

So, there is every reason for refraining from guiding the blind child's hands.

From this Storage the Child Makes Plans and Strategies for Performances of Tactile Search and he Acquires the Ability of Imagining and Mapping Objects and Surroundings This entire development or process is disturbed or interrupted whenever anybody guides the child's hand without his permission. Whenever a sighted person guides or leads the blind child's hand, it will be the sighted person's strategy for tactile search that will be used. The strategy of the sighted person is influenced by her ability to see, as well as by her degree of comprehension of how a blind person experiences his surroundings. Does the person who is guiding the visually impaired child know which sensory elements are most important for this child to discover, or does she know how long a time this child needs to be able to assimilate tactile sensory information, or does she know how many times this child needs to repeat every single action to be able to relate them to each other and thus finally achieve a reasonably good image of the object or environment in question? During the period of time in which the child is building up a certain strategy for performing a certain activity or for mapping a certain object or a certain environment, it will surely harm, disturb or delay the child's opportunity to develop these strategies if adults, that is, teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, parents or others are interfering by guiding the child's hand using a strategy different from the one the child is trying to achieve. If the child's hand is guided in one way by one person, say, at eight o'clock in the morning and in another way by another


The negative effect of guiding the blind child's hands during the preschool years may only be obvious or develop into tactile defensiveness when the child is six, seven or eight years old, that is, when he is not longer with the preschool teacher who exposed him to the hand over hand approach, so it is hard for the preschool teacher to discover the effect of her or his way of teaching. If the child has started to explore an object, and the adult sees that the child's hand is moving in a wrong direction or moving in directions that the adult finds more complicated than necessary for searching the object in question, or if the adult sees that the child omits exploring a certain part of the object or a certain small detail of it, the adult should refrain from taking the child's hand trying to show him where he should touch the object or how he should search it. It would be better to suggest to him to make a more differentiated search, or allow him to use more time for his search. It would also disturb the child's building up of strategies for searching if the adult moves the object, even if this is done with good intent. Interference or delay also takes place if the adult talks to the child while he is trying to build up a strategy that works for him. If interference happens often or always, it will be very difficult for the child to succeed in building up strategies. His knowledge about himself and his surroundings will be so fragmentary that his cognitive development will become negatively affected. If the visually impaired child gets the opportunity to explore an object without interference from anybody, he can develop a strategy for mapping, which he later can correct and further develop according to his enhanced motor capability, his enhanced capacity of memorizing,

Issue 70 Winter 2006

Lilli Nielsen writes..... his enhanced ability to exclude that information which is less important, and his enhanced cognitive development. While experimenting with different strategies for tactile search the child will have to repeat both the "useful" and the "wrong" strategies. Both kinds of strategies must be stored in his memory, so that he later can consider them, make his choice and exclude those that are less effective. Conclusion The conclusion of the above outlined considerations regarding the visually impaired child's building up strategies for tactile orientation must be that when the child withdraws his hand or protests against having his hands guided he is either trying to defend himself from the bewilderment caused by this, or he is trying to protect the strategies for tactile orientation he has already achieved. The conclusion must also be that it would be of benefit for the visually impaired child if his teachers would exclude the approach of guiding his hands from their educational methods. The only strategy for tactile search which is of value for the child who is visually impaired is his own.

Literature Baddeley, A. (1986): Working Memory. Oxford Science Publications. Edelman. G. (1994): Bright Air. Brilliant Fire. A Matter of the Mind. Penguin. Nielsen, L. (1992): Space and Self. SIKON, Copenhagen Nielsen, L. (1994): Early Learning, Step by Step. SIKON, Copenhagen Nielsen, L. (1989): Spatial Relations in Congenitally Blind Infants. SIKON, Copenhagen Van der Poel, J. (1988): Die visueelgestremde kind van geboorte tot nege jaar: 'n Ortopedagogiese studie. Universiteit van Stellenbosch, South Africa. Van der Poel, J. (1997): Visual Impairment. Understanding the needs of young children. SIKON, Copenhagen. Warren, D. (1982): The Development of Haptic Perception, in W. Schiff & E. Foulke, Tactual Perception. London: Cambridge University Press. Don’t forget to look at the recent research and work at Birmingham University by Mike McLinden and Steve McCall. They follow Lilli’s lead and promote this method of active learning using the hands. The book to look for is ‘Learning through touch’ and can be obtained on or a good bookseller.

Ten white snowmen Ten white snowmen standing in a line, One toppled over, then there were nine. Nine white snowmen standing up straight, One lost his balance, then there were eight. Eight white snowmen in a snowy heaven, The wind blew one over, then there were seven. Seven white snowmen with pipes made of sticks, One slumped to the ground, then there were six. Six white snowmen standing by the drive, One got knocked down, then there were five. Five white snowmen outside the front door, And icicle fell on one, then there were four. Four white snowmen standing by the tree, One slipped and fell apart, then there were three. Three white snowmen underneath the yew, One crumbled overnight, then there were two. Two white snowmen standing in the sun, One melted right down, then there was one. One white snowman standing all alone, Vanished without a trace, then there was none.

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Making special sensory books – Flo Longhorn Some readers are at a very early stage of learning read and need lots of simple sensory materials to engage and attract them to the pages of the book. Here are some homemade books, which fulfil the sensory needs of the reader and are attractive and full of interesting experiences. This first book is a book of logographic reading. Each item can be ‘read’ without knowing any ABCs! See if you can ‘read’ the book items-the beginner reader will be able to read them in their surrounding environments-the shop, the TV, the takeaway.

Here are two pages taken from a beautiful book all about the four seasons. The pages are woven with natural sheep’s wool and have a whiff of sheep on each page A snowy day story inside a shoebox

A rich reading resource securely fastened to a strong covered board (photo from Lister lane School)

A ‘one page ‘ book which helps in reading, as it is 3D and stereoscopic to view and touch.


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Rag Bag To Buy Physical education for all

Squidgie ball

Here is a range of equipment that will enable everyone to participate in a sports lesson, physical play activity or just for sheer fun. They are very sensory and enable very special children to participate well in a physical activity. The materials are carefully chosen with regard to ease of handling, sensory qualities and attractiveness. They will appeal to any age and will help promote spontaneous active movements.

An innovative ball that is almost indestructible, being bite and chew resistant. It features a crushed vented surface with a unique texture that makes it very easy to catch. Will float in water.

The main stockist is ‘Spordas’ and you can order a catalogue from 0845 1204 515 Email

Beanbag scarves

Ribbon tail ball This is a coated foam ball with ribbon tail attached. The ribbon allows increased catching and throwing success and it is fun to see the tails fly!

Easy to hold, throw or catch. They glide slowly through the air and can be tracked more easily.

Multicoloured small spheres inside a coloured outer skin just waiting to be squeezed. It would be useful for hands that need to practise squeezing and finger tip pressure.

Tippin’ target

£9.99 for a set of 6

Coloured fluff balls

Colour morph molecule ball

Costs £2.75

These small beanbags are just the right size for small or weak hands. The attached scarves give an extra chance of catching

£12.99 for a set of 6

Costs £4.95 for one

The angles of the targets are adjustable and can be used by wheelchair users. They can be altered to different degrees of difficulty. Use with a range of objects such as beanbags or a large ball Costs for a set of 4 is £29.95

Butterfly scarves These are excellent for teaching the basics of throwing and catching. The super light nylon scarves will move very slowly through the air, allowing more time to catch them. They are supplied in a set of 6 for £4.25

A set of 36 costs £19.95

Catch Loop

Nobbly Wobbly

These catch loops are great for throwing and catching activities. They are softly padded for those who are reluctant to catch or hold. The combination of straight sections and loops enables easy handling and exploring

This colourful ball has 6 interwoven strands of brightly coloured squashable resilient plastic. Easy to handle and twist. Costs £3.25 each

They cost £4.99

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Rag Bag To Buy You saw them first in Information Exchange!These are a commercial idea called Storyboxes. They cost £30 each so think about how easy they are to make! Here is an example, ‘the magical World Storybox’. I had a look and found them very plasticky and with very little sensory input, you may disagree – the editor

Magical World Storybox The Magical World Storybox could be an enchanted island, misty mountain, palace or parallel universe. It could be a dragon’s cave or the entrance to another world. Add the mythical creatures and ‘jewels’, and your children will be motivated to tell stories that are out of this world! Price £30.00 Tel: 0845 603 5309

Twilight umbrellas From the editor – I have just received one of these umbrellas, and it is smashing. It is a full size brolly with a grey silver lining –very sturdy and works easily with a switch in the handle. The fibroptic lights twinkle or stay on in continuous mode and the brolly glows so well in the dark. It can be twirled or brought up close to explore. The only criticism is that it would have been nice to have twinkles inside the umbrella as well. The brolly comes in 2 styles, fibroptic and also one with glowing tubes attached as in the photo. They cost £ 19.99 and can be obtained from

The little white house The Little White House is an easily transported and erected sensory space in the form of a small house built from 6 foam sections covered in white PVC, which is wipe-clean. The sections velcro together to make a small house with a door. This provides a space for a child to experience a cosy intimate space. The suppliers say that the white walls are perfect for many light sources including their projectors and interactive accessories. (I would ask about ventilation with using such equipment in an enclosed space as certainly projectors throw out a huge heat – the editor) This little house would be useful as a retreat for those children needing a ‘chill out’ space and also an environment of preferred choice by a very special child. I like the idea of a mini-topic room that can be explored just by reaching out or turning over. The house costs around £900 – further details from ASCO education suppliers on 0113 2707070 Email


Handy hint If you would like a child to have the opportunity for a sniff of a very nice smell, then just put the smell on a piece of cotton wool or small piece of muslin and clip on their clothes with a clothes peg. This is excellent for children who do not move very well and need to spend time in passive positions-brightens up the nose!

Issue 70 Winter 2006

Rag Bag To Make ‘Makeup remover pads’ finger puppets These simple easy to make finger puppets are made from pastel coloured round makeup remover pads. These can be purchased from any chemist or supermarket cosmetic counter. Just staple two sides and the top together and insert a finger! Now it is time to decorate and make them come to life. Use collage materials to make faces, a bird with feathers on its head, a rolled pad to make rabbits ears for a rabbit or a flower with petals of tissue glued on the puppet shape. Just put a number on each finger puppet to match the number of fingers on a hand and enact ‘1 2 3 4 5 – once I caught a fish alive….’ or make two dickey birds with feathers who will fly away – but come back when you call them….. A shower of scented tissues • Buy boxes of scented tissues • Enjoy the very different smells-rose, menthol, lavender…. • Throw them in the air and let them drift down • Sniff as they fall near a nose or face • Use a fan to let them float fragrantly around the room

Soap bags You will need some laundry net bags, the small ones used for inside a washing machine and a variety of highly scented soaps • Cut into the soaps with a sharp knife to release the fragrance • Pop a soap into each bag • Hang on a wooden mug stand • Choose the one you want • Explore the smell • Exchange for another fragrant bag on the stand

Fly swatter paintings All you need for this zany painting is to find old fly swatters left over from summertime. • Put different coloured thick paints into individual containers (soup plates are ideal) • Then stick a very large piece of paper to the wall; a roll of thick wallpaper would do nicely. • Now get ready to carefully place the swatter end of the fly swat into the paint- take aim and swat the paper! You should get some very interesting images and colours. A person in a wheel chair can really get some speed to splat at the wall! Here are some splats for you to examine….

Feed the birds Here is a very easy way to feed the birds in wintertimeYou will need: • Slices of bread • Cookie cutters • Peanut butter • Wool or string • Birdseed on a plate

• Toast the bread • Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the toasted bread

• Keep the leftover bits to put out for the birds as well • Make a hole in the shape and thread string through and tie in a loop

• Spread peanut butter on the bread, then turn over and push into the birdseed-you can do both sides if you wish • Hang outside for the birds to enjoy – look through the window and watch the different sorts of birds feed

Very easy to make and use, make a lovely gift for family or friends

Handmade Candles

Tealight Stars

Both from Early Year Resources Call 0160 873 8080 for catalogue Issue 70 Winter 2006 19

Sensory Science activities – Kay Evans Leaf printing

Food colours on linen

Equipment needed • Paints (Bright colours and white) • Aprons • Trays for paints • Sponges- apt shapes • Brushes- various

Equipment needed: • Food colours • Water • Pipettes/ syringes • Sheets of linen or old bed sheets

Use fingers, brushes or the sponges to spread the paint on to the leaf (back is more detailed). Place the leaf on to the paper and press down. Remove the leaf.

Lay the sheet on the table or floor. Mix the food colours in the water boldly. Fill the pipettes with the mixture and squirt on to the sheet. Watch as the colours mix and mingle.

Leaf silhouettes

Food Properties

Place the leaf on to the paper. Use fingers, brushes or the sponges to spread the paint on to and around the leaf. Remove the leaf.

• Melting/freezing • Heating/cooling • Mixing

Equipment needed • Variety of coloured papers • Paints (Bright colours and white) • Sponges- apt shapes • Brushes- various

Equipment needed: • Chocolates- plain, milk and carob • Balloons full of water & frozen • Salt • Butter & Eggs • Honey • Ice lolly molds & sticks • Bowls, Pots/pans • Samples of all to compare before/during and after

Printing Equipment needed • Apples/ potatoes/ oranges cut into segments • Variety of coloured papers • Paints (Bright colours and white)

Explore all the materials and heat them gently or pour salt on them (the balloons). Watch the effects.

Use fingers, brushes or the sponges to spread the paint on to the Apples/ potatoes/ oranges. Print with the piece.

Clay/ dough imprints Equipment needed • Aprons • Tools • Boards • Clay • Natural objects such as shells, leaves Use fingers or tools to press the objects in to the clay and remove.

Egg Splatting Equipment needed • Egg shells • Paper- white or black • Paints • Washing facilities!!!! Fill the egg shells with paint and drop or throw them on to the paper. This is a very messy activity but is great fun!!! 20

Issue 70 Winter 2006

Nativity Story The Nativity Story told in pictures by children and staff of Baytree School.

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Christmas ideas and activities Cinnamon scented ornaments If you love the scent of cinnamon then this is one for dangling on the Christmas tree- see which is the favourite spice smell in the cooking group. Remember this is not for eating, only smelling and decorating the Christmas tree You will need: •A mixing bowl •Rolling pin •Cookie cutters •Fine ribbon Ingredients: •1 cup cinnamon (*hint-buy spices from a local Indian supermarket-much cheaper than the big names) • 1 tablespoon nutmeg •1 tablespoon ground ginger •1 cup of drained applesauce •2tablespoons white glue •White flour •Food colouring (optional) Let’s cook: •Combine the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in the mixing bowl •Add the applesauce and glue •Work in all the ingredients with helping hands until mixed thoroughly •If desired, divide into sections and mix a little food colouring to desired colours •Roll out dough mixture on floured surface until about 1/4” thick •Cut with cookie cutters •Make a small hole at the top of the ornament •Lay out flat to dry for a couple of days •When completely dry, thread the ribbon through the hole and you have a lovely scented Christmas ornament

Christmas Ice cream cone trees

•Stand the cone upside down on a flat surface •Cover with sticky green icing •Add sprinkles and sweeties •Place on the paper plate •And you have a very sweet Christmas tree!

Rice Christmas tree cakes Here is another way to make some edible Christmas trees Ingredients: •5 cups of rice krispies •1/4 cup margarine or butter •4 cups min-marshmallows (look in baking section at the supermarket) •10-12 regular marshmallows •Toothpicks •Green food colouring •A selection of small sweets such as smarties •Sprinkles •Ready made plain sponge cakes in cake cases from the supermarket Method: •Melt the margarine in the microwave for about 30 seconds-use a clear bowl so you can see it melt Add 4 cups of mini marshmallows return to microwave • and stir every 30 seconds until syrupy •Remove from microwave, place in a big bowl and add drops of green food colouring until fairly dark green Add cereal and stir and stir until well covered • •Cover hands in cool melted butter so the mixture does not stick too much •All hands in to grab a handful and shape into a conical tree-make sure the mixture is cooled before diving in •When cooled, stick a toothpick into the bottom for the tree trunk Decorate with sprinkles • and candy •Stick trees into a readymade sponge cake – what a lovely Christmas cake!

These are quick and easy to make and look really Christmassy! You will need: •Sugar ice cream cones (the thickest you can get) •Ready made icing (or make your own with icing sugar, green food colouring and a little water-well mixed) •Smarties, sprinkles, hundreds and thousands…. •Small paper plates


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Chillout Zone – Teenagers The Dee Banks Art Project You may have spotted some small pictures of this lovely art project in the last edition of Information Exchange. Sally Slater sent them for everyone to see. Here they are in a much bigger format and they show a class of older students at Dee Banks School who took part in a whole school project week. Each day was a different theme-oceans, the Artic, caves, rainforest, desert-they did a recycling sensory activity for each theme to produce a wonderful wooden wall for their outside area at school.

Salad Spinner art

This is what to do:

This is a great way to make modern art images, a splattery activity everyone can join in and enjoy!

• remove the plastic insert of the •

You will need:

• • A salad spinner (used to spin and dry lettuce) • Small paper plates • Drippy paints of all colours – a squirty container of paint is the best

• • • •

spinner Place a small paper plate in the bottom Experiment and drip or squirt some paint into the spinner Put on the lid Turn and turn the handle so the paint will fly about inside the spinner Open up and see the modern art result! Experiment and try adding glitter, sawdust, some lentils, and a lettuce leaf???

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Chillout Zone – Teenagers This article was sent all the way from Australia. I had the pleasure of meeting with Sheridan this summer and she is a most dedicated person and has a different view of the world of special people

In Memory of Something That Once Was There Sheridan Forster How often do you hear people say, "He used to do that, but he doesn't anymore"? Behaviours, often seen to be inappropriate, like flicking of strings, lip smacking, or throwing objects, were treated as behaviours that should be shaped into new more "appropriate" activities. However, as the person ages these idiosyncrasies sometimes seem to disappear, not to be replaced by anything else. The person becomes more withdrawn, less active, and less responsive. Then we remember these things that the person used to do. Only then do we, sometimes, recognise these behaviours as possible skills. Below is an obituary to one possible skill. R.S.Berry R.I.P. Born: unknown Died: some time last year Rest in peace RaSp. I shall miss you. Many people never valued you when you were around. In fact, many tried to get rid of you. Some people yelled "Stop!" at you. Some ignored you. But some people valued you and explored how to be with you. We saw you as an avenue for reaching your owner. Her eyes lit up when we brought out our Sound friends to interact with you. There seemed to be a different, stronger understanding, when you and other SoundBerry friends got together; a warmth and understanding that did not occur with other sounds like SoundTalk and SoundWords.

The Tuna Can Turtle Here are the directions: This little tin turtle is very simple to make. You will need: • An empty tuna fish can • 2 buttons or beads for eyes • A selection of different textured buttons and beads • Green paint-add a dash of liquid soap to help the paint stick • The shape of the can drawn on green paper with 4 legs and a head and tail drawn on (have this cut out ready beforehand or do whilst the paint is drying on the turtle tin) Here’s how to make your tin turtle • Paint the can green and leave to dry • When dry, glue to the turtle outline • Stick the eyes on the head • Now choose the buttons you like onto the shell of the tuna turtle • Touch the turtle and feel his rough shell

Oh, I remember with fondness our times spent together. You would be soft RaSpBerry and then I would bring in loud Raspberry. You, not being outdone, responded with the loudest, longest, RaSpBerry ever heard. We had some good times together. But now you're gone. We hardly noticed your slipping away, your calls becoming softer and more infrequent over time. Was it the people telling you to go away, or was it just age that took you away, leaving us with the silence and withdrawal of your owner. It's funny you know, some of those people who wanted you to go away now say, "She used to have RaSpBerry, but it's gone now; she used to do so much more." Why is it we only notice some things when they have gone? If we had played with you more would we now be left with silence? If we had valued you more when you were there would we still be saying "She used to, but now she doesn't do much?" How do we learn from our mistakes and truly value the many different ways of being? Rest In Peace RaSpBerry


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Books, storytelling and theme work Bag Books 60 Walham Grove, Fulham, London SW6 1QR Tel/Fax: 020 7385 4021 Email: Web:

Livewire Real Lives Hodder Murray, 338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH Available from Bookshops

Story-packs designed for children, young people and adults who are at an early developmental stage in the acquisition of language and communication skills. Each page of the story is a strong board with an object attached, which can be explored by each person listening to the multisensory story. Many titles are suitable for teenagers and adults.

Range of books produced in association with the Basic Skills Agency, written for varied reading ages between 6 to 10. Each book features a personality from showbiz, music, sport, literature, science or religion. Use the books to make story bags for teenagers or adults, for example: Ryan Giggs (sports bag containing football, referee’s whistle, Manchester United scarf and magazine, Welsh flag, etc); Gareth Gates (glittery bag containing microphone, hair gel, CD, calendar, etc.).

Price range from £35.00 to £50.00 plus p&p.

Books priced £3.99 or £4.25.

Books Beyond Words Book Sales, The Royal College of Psychiatrists 17 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PG Tel: 020 7235 2351 ext. 146 Fax: 020 7245 1231 (mark FAO Book Sales) Web:

Story Sensations Vocal Image, PO Box 759, Woking GU23 6BF Tel: 01483 211711 Fax: 0870 787 7532 Email: Web:

The books can be used by anyone who understands pictures better than words, people with learning or communication difficulties or literacy problems and carers and staff who support them. Titles cover issues such as bereavement, health, abuse, relationships and the criminal justice system. Supporting text and guidelines on how to use the book are given at the back of the book.

Range of sensory stories designed to provide an accessible storytelling experience for pupils with severe and profound multiple disabilities. Some titles are suitable for older pupils.

Each book £10.00, UK p&p free. ClearVision Project Linden Lodge School, 61 Princes Way, London SW19 6JB Tel: 020 8789 9575 Email: Web:

Teacher’s pack includes: • audio CD with the narrative, music and sound effects required for the story • story script • guide with step by step notes on presenting the story and a list of suggested props and potential alternatives. Each pack costs £49.99 plus p&p.

Nationwide postal lending library of over 12,000 books with added braille, designed to be shared by visually impaired and sighted children and adults. These books are lent to schools, families, libraries, and visual impairment services. There is also a new collection of books labelled in Moon and some wonderful tactile books (only available for loan to education establishments).

Storysack Resource House, Kay Street, Bury BL9 6BU Tel: 0161 763 6232 Fax: 0161 763 5366 Email: Web: Each sack is based around a picture storybook and contains a range of props and supporting materials. Wide range of titles available – consider adding more multisensory props to make the stories more interesting for children with severe disabilities. Price range approx. £30.00 to £80.00 plus p&p

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Books, storytelling and theme work DIY Books You can make books for individual clients with complex needs by: Placing different items in display wallets and sealing the open edge with sticky tape. Try lentils, shiny card, fluorescent kite fabric, bubble plastic, netting, foil – whatever will interest the client. Give the book an interesting cover (e.g. brightly coloured corrugated card) and tie the “pages” together with cord. Using laminating pouches. The pouches may be sealed using a hot iron, instead of putting them through a laminating machine. Place a piece of paper over the pouch (to protect your iron) and seal three edges. Use the point of the iron to seal two triangles on one long side of the pouch, where the holes will be punched for binding the pages (otherwise liquid fillings will leak out round the holes!). Experiment with different fillings e.g. hair gel and glitter, fluorescent paint, black paint and seal the last edge of the pouch. Laminate a piece of black paper, white paper and foil paper (using the laminating machine in the conventional way). When you assemble the book, place the white page next to the hair gel, black page next to the fluorescent paint and foil page next to the black paint, so that moving the liquids around with a finger will reveal an interesting background (a bit like the old magic drawing boards).


Further information and resources • Bag Books (see above) runs small workshops in storytelling. • Storysack Manual (£15.00 plus p&p) gives detailed advice on making storysacks, funding, organising volunteer help, and training workshops for parents. Available from Storysack (see above). • Storytime (£2.25 including UK p&p) is a leaflet that gives ideas to make storytime an inclusive and sensory experience for disabled children and young people. Available from AFL Training (see below). This leaflet was originally published by Action for Leisure and is now distributed by AFLTraining 39 Kelvinbrook West Molesey Surrey KT8 1RU Tel: 020 8783 0173 Fax: 020 8783 9267 Email: April 2005

Issue 70 Winter 2006

Playing safely with play dough – Flo Longhorn One of the joys of childhood is getting stuck into piles of colourful appealing play dough. The dough can be commercially bought or even better, made by the children themselves. There is nothing more multisensory than warm, freshly made, sticky, the reason for this scented play dough to set the senses racing and boosting creative play. However, with the increasing inclusion of children with special needs into all early year settings, it is time to take stock of the safety of play dough. The reason for this is that many special children will be at an earlier level of understanding than many of their peers. This may reflect in how they approach materials and some may be at the stage of mouthing and tasting anything to hand-for quite a while. There may be also children in early years settings who have an allergic reaction to certain foods or additives. Commercial varieties of play dough, from reputable companies will ensure that their brand will be as safe as possible. With regard to home made play dough, some of the recipes may contain ingredients that could cause a problem if chewed or eaten. Three ingredients, salt, borax and food ingredients may be found in the recipes used in early years settings. Salt Some homemade play dough recipes have a lot of salt in the mixture. Yet, even the ingestion of small amounts of salt dough-as little as two teaspoons-could makes an average two-year-old child quite ill. Borax Some recipes for play dough or slime may list adding borax as a preservative. Borax is also poisonous and is absorbed on contact with the skin- used as a means of cockroach control. Borax is toxic- - and there are documented cases of long-term, low level exposure causing a range of reactions including conjunctivitis and skin rashes. Play dough made with either of these ingredients will taste unpleasant and most children would spit them out. However a special child may not have reached the level of discriminating between tastes and may munch away quite happily unless closely supervised Food ingredients Care also has to be taken that play dough does not have any food additives that may cause a reaction in a child. An example of this would be play dough made with wheat flour, which is eaten by a child who requires a gluten free diet. Peanut butter cannot be used if a child in the group has a nut allergy. The important thing is to continue with the wonderful creative use of activities using play dough but to make sure that a check is made: • Use recipes that do not require salt or borax

• Watch children carefully to make sure children do not eat too much of the play dough they are investigating and enjoying • Encourage the use of the other senses in investigating the dough-smell and touch, especially haptic touch • Check the ingredients before making play dough to ensure there is nothing that might cause an allergic reaction for a particular child • Watch out for the eyes if the play dough has added ingredients such as glitters, in case a child goes to rub their eyes during use • Most of all carry on providing exciting but safe play dough for everyone to enjoy! Here are some examples of play dough recipes that are salt and borax free. They use the senses of taste and smell as well as textures. You need to check if there are other additives, with regard to the needs of any child in your setting. Enjoy! Remember that the process of making the dough is as important as the play dough itself, enable all the children to participate together.

Icing play dough You will need: • A can of ready made chocolate frosting • A cup of peanut butter • 1 1/2 cups dry powdered milk You have to: • Mix all the ingredients together with a big wooden spoon • Place on a board and knead with the hands • If it is too sticky, add some more dried milk • The play dough can be rolled and shaped and made into sweeties

Glitter play dough You will need: • 2 cups flour • 2 cups water • 3 tablespoons cooking oil • 1 cup caster sugar • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar • Food colouring and essence-e.g. blue colour and peppermint • Glitter You have to: • Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a spoon-add glitter to suit • Put the mixed ingredients into a food processor and blend well • Put the mixture in a microwavable bowl and microwave fro 5 minutes Leave to cool

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Playing safely with play dough Cinnamon spice play dough – all things nice You will need: • 2 cups flour • 1 cup caster sugar • 5 teaspoons cinnamon • 1/2 to 1 cup warm water (try half the liquid replaced with pureed apple for a change) You have to: • Mix flour and cinnamon in a large bowl • Make a well in the centre and pour in the water • Mix using hands until a ball is formed • Knead and bash it for a few minutes • Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for ? an hour Tasty play dough – you can have a nibble at this You will need: • 2 1/2 cups peanut butter • 1 cup powdered milk • 1 cup runny honey 1 cup porage oats You have to: • Mix the ingredients with lots of different spoons • Adjust the texture by adding more/less of the ingredients • Munch squish and enjoy!

Sand play dough – for a tickly scratchy texture You will need: • 4 cups clean white sand • 3 cups flour • 1 cup water • 1/2 cup cooking oil You have to: • Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl

Oatmeal Play Dough You will need: • One part flour • One part water • Two parts oatmeal (porage oats are ideal) What you do: • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until smooth • Knead and play – it smells good, feels really good and stays soft for quite a while • (For a different warm feel and a good smell, warm the mixture in the microwave…mmm!)

Snow dough – a squishy experience You will need: • 1 cup of Lux soap flakes (found in the detergent section of the supermarket) • 2 cups warm water • Electric hand mixer or old fashioned egg beater You have to: • Place soap flakes in the bowl • Add water • Mix until fluffy and squishy and play with just like play dough • (Add a few drops of food colouring to add a contrast)


Issue 70 Winter 2006

Changing places – Changing lives A new national campaign, Changing Places has been launched by a consortium of organisations including charities Mencap and PAMIS, and is calling for support from people across the UK.

The Changing Places campaign wants groups and individuals across the UK to get involved. For more information visit

Thousands of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities need Changing Places toilets. These are rooms Alison Japer, Jo Williams with Craig equipped to allow and Jenny Whinnett at the launch of people to use the toilet the campaign with assistance or have their continence pads changed. They include an adultsized height adjustable changing bench, a hoist, a toilet with space either side for a carer, and plenty of space.

Two real life stories:

The Changing Places Consortium includes Mencap, PAMIS, Nottingham City Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Department of Health Valuing People Team and the Scottish Executive Same as You Team.

Without these facilities carers are often forced to change family members on a dirty toilet floor with little or no privacy. This is unhygienic and is also extremely dangerous, as carers must physically lift the person they care for on and off the floor. However the alternative is to limit outings to a couple of hours or to not go out at all. Paid carers are not even allowed to attempt this, meaning that many people with profound and multiple learning disabilities are unable to take part in activities enjoyed by others at their day centre, school or college. While many buildings now include an accessible toilet as standard, this facility does not meet everyone's needs - including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, some people who have had a severe stroke, some people with acquired head injuries and some frail and elderly people. There are almost no public Changing Places toilets in the UK. The campaign is calling for Changing Places toilets to be installed in all big public places, including city centres, shopping malls, arts venues, hospitals, motorway service stations, leisure complexes, large railway stations and airports. Changing Places toilets should be provided in addition to standard accessible toilets. Disabled artist and author Alison Lapper who is supporting the campaign explains: "From my own experience I know how frustrating and humiliating it can be to come across toilets which just don't meet your needs. For someone with profound and multiple learning disabilities this is a common occurrence - resulting in people having to be changed on a dirty toilet floor or being forced to return home. The Changing Places campaign is so important because it is about more than just toilets; it's about people's quality of life."

Toby, aged 8 and his mum Julie Toby is 8 years old and has severe and multiple learning disabilities. Toby needs to use a Changing Places toilet when he is away from home – but there are virtually no Changing Places toilets in the UK. This places a huge restriction on where the family can go and what they can do - and they find it is virtually impossible to do things on impulse. When they are away from home Julie carries an aerobics mat so that she can change Toby on a toilet floor if there is no alternative. This involves Julie lifting Toby from his chair to the floor and back again - a very dangerous move for both her and Toby. "I slipped a disc 20 years ago - my back just seized up and I couldn't move" Julie explains. "I'm terrified that it will happen again. Getting on the floor to change Toby is the worst position for me to be in. What would I do if it happened while I was changing him and I couldn't get up? "If more Changing Places toilets were installed it would make such a difference to our lives – we could do normal everyday activities. Things that other people take for granted." Matthew, aged 16 Matthew, from Wrexham enjoys doing lots of activities, like going to concerts or on day trips. But Matthew faces great difficulty when he wants to go out and do things – because he can never find a toilet that meets his needs. "I have cerebral palsy and am quadraphlegic", Matthew explains. " I need a lot of support when I go to the toilet as I cannot stand or transfer out of my wheelchair on my own. I need enough room in the toilet for me and two carers, a hoist system and a height adjustable changing bench. If there is not a toilet that meets my needs unfortunately we cannot go to that place. It is very difficult and very restricting." Matthew desperately needs Changing Places toilets to be installed in public places. As Matthew explains, this would open up a whole world of possibility to him. "If there were Changing Places toilets in public places it would make such a difference to me, in fact I would say it could be life changing. For some disabled people like myself it can mean the difference between getting out and living your life, or staying in."

Issue 70 Winter 2006


The Oily Cart Company Recently, The Oily Cart Company sent their beautiful folder of past and future events to Information Exchange. They perform especially for young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. From its beginning in 1981, the company has been at the forefront in developing work for young children and then in 1996 began their pioneering work with very special young people. They found that highly interactive performances with specially created installations work very well for these special people. These environments, their WONDERLANDS transform a school or theatre space. Whilst they are fascinating to look at, and are filled with music, they also appeal to the senses of touch and scent which traditional theatre neglects. Within the installations, the performers draw in the audience to gain their confidence, and gently draw each individual into their own imaginary world. The participants are encouraged to talk in their own way to the performers, join them on their adventures through the magic labyrinths and help solve any problems they encounter. There is also magical laughter and heaps of fun. Pictures tell a thousand words so enjoy these photos of the Oily Cart productions. If you would like to participate or find out more, then contact them on 020 8672 6329

The Big Splash – the first water-based WONDERLAND when the pool was transformed into an enchanted laundry. The students were invited to join the characters and find the missing sock. Where could it be? If it wasn’t in the warm lavender scented drying room, it must have been in the water!


Boing! Welcome to the legendary nightclub. Prepare to take to the air on a flying carpet ride! One at a time, the students join actors on a trampoline, and then visit the Dome of delight or other exotic multi-sensory treats.

Hunky Dory - the theme was the earth and the wonderful delights to be found under the ground. The characters Clay, Crystal, Root and Sand encouraged the participants to explore sights sounds, textures and smells to be found in wonderland.

Issue 70 Winter 2006

Electronic exchange Massage in Shool A PowerPoint presentation has been produced by Carol Trower, Chairperson of the Massage in School Association, which is aimed at highlighting the benefits of this approach. Some exciting toileting programmes for those involved in this absorbing subject – – do a search on this one, they have a book about toilet training as well

Issue 70 Winter 2006


Information Exchange - Winter 2006  

Information Exchange magazine - issue 70 - Winter 2006

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