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Issue 72 Summer 2007

– Mark explores and enjoys the multisensory bubble tube during a sensory session at Cavendish school in Runcorn

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.

Contents Editors page


SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive Learning Experience)


Information Exchange is compiled with help from many

CD, DVD and Book Review


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.

Classroom Strategies for Children with Hyperacusis


Lilli Nielsen – a Pioneer in Special Education


Spotlight on a very special mum – Anne Sutcliffe


Rag Bag To Buy


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.

Rag Bag To Do


Chillout Zone – Teenagers


The Lesson Response Plan by Stuart Gent


Electronic Exchange


Multisensory Magic from Flo


Sensory cartoon page from Richard Hirstwood


Yoga Health


Conferences and Courses


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

SOS Please can the mum who called and left a message (without a phone number) about information about hopsa suits, call and leave a phone number or email so we can send the info!

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.


‘Thank you to Sally Slater for sending in the photograph of Mark Miller working so hard at Cavendish school. His mum is delighted to give permission for Mark to go on the front page – a star!

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Editorial Editorial

The Information Exchange Editorial Team

Dear readers, Welcome to the summer issue of Information Exchange and it is packed with articles, ideas and information for you to read and enjoy. My mention of the wrestling match drew lots of comments and Les Staves has sent in his sensory place to visit, on page 28. Michelle Whitham in Bath, sent an email to say ’wrestling sounds fun but a huge rock concert like ‘Bonjovi’ or ‘U2’ is amazingly sensory and they tend not to swear’. I do need to defend the wrestlers, as they didn’t swear but only shouted ‘shut up!’ Exciting news for everyone is that on Saturday 14 June 2008 we are holding a giant ‘Information Exchange Day’ in Bristol. There will be lots of brilliant events including workshops, Rag Bag to make workshops, stands, fun activities and a chance to meet other readers and those who volunteer their time for the magazine. The proceeds from the day will be going to Johannesburg to fund an Information Exchange stimulation room for very special babies and children-soa double reason for putting this in your diary-now. Best sensory wishes,

Ps. There was so much interest in the article on ‘Faces’ in the spring edition (Issue 71) that there will be another article in the Christmas issue.

Have a look at to see the Information Exchange site currently being hosted at Richard Hirstwoods multisensory site.

Watch this space!

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 Cliff, Subscriptions, Information Exchange, 1A Potters Cross, Wootton, Bedfordshire MK43 9JG Tel and Fax: 0845 127 5281 Email:

Editorial and Administration Address

Flo Longhorn

Also, a new website devoted solely to Information Exchange, is being built by Gus Silverman (Sally Silverman’s lovely son)

Flo Longhorn: Managing Editor, Consultant in Special Education Catherine de Haas: Parent and Speech and Language Therapist Sara Cliff: 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: Advisory teacher, SSSE, Derbyshire

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:

Help!!! Please send in your ideas and contributions for the Christmas edition to make it an extra special one! Send in any format, scribbles to word-processed, and we will do the rest. Contact details above – to the editor

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SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive Learning Experience) a new service development for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities Key points • SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive, Learning Experience) aims to develop people’s communication skills, cognitive abilities, emotional and social well-being and general enjoyment of life. • Sessions lasting two hours are held daily, people work in small groups with one-to-one support. Many small steps of progress have been achieved.

Background People with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) constitute a diverse group of individuals, who have many varied and complex needs. Debate continues about terminology and definitions so, in order for readers to be clear who this new service is for, it is necessary to define briefly what is meant by the term PMLD. PMLD has been defined in a variety of ways. It has been referred to in relation to normative development in adults as those with a ‘mental age of below three years’ (ICD 10). Others have defined it as a ‘degree of learning difficulty so severe that they are functioning at a developmental level of two years or less, in practice often well under a year’ (Ware, 2003). Whilst the widest definition of PMLD (ie, those functioning below 3 years) was used when setting up the service, in practice the majority of individuals functioned well below one year with regard to their social and cognitive skills. Historically people with profound learning disabilities have tended to receive fewer services than those with severe learning disabilities (Raynes, 1980). Regrettably, even more recent studies show that this is still true for people with PMLD: they are less engaged (Rose et al, 1993) and experience a lower quality of life (Perry & Felce, 1994). In studies within schools, Ware (2003) reported that students with PMLD had fewer opportunities for interaction generally, and even fewer chances to participate in those interactions. There has also been a view that people with such difficulties are incapable of learning (ie, ineducable) and developing. Therefore people were often not given appropriate opportunities to learn and develop their skills. There have been tendencies to both under (O’Brien & Tyne, 1981) and over estimate (Bartlett & Bunning, 1997) the abilities of this group of people. As a result inappropriate opportunities were frequently offered to


Dr Gemma Gray Principal Clinical Psychologist, Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust and Celia Chasey Project Leader, North Cherwell Day Services

them. However, recent studies show that people with profound learning disabilities can learn, as long as they receive the right support and in the right environment. A responsive environment is a key factor in a child’s development. Ware (2003) discusses several studies that demonstrate that children with PMLD tended to receive fewer responses to their communication attempts and were less likely to be active participants in communication. It seems almost too obvious to state, but the need for a responsive environment for people with PMLD (namely getting a response to your communications, being given time to respond, being given an opportunity to lead and take turns; Ware, 2003) cannot be underestimated.

Local context Following a period of significant change within North Cherwell day services, a review was undertaken in 2001 to look at what impact these changes had made on service users and their families. One of the key areas identified as requiring further development was to improve support for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. As a result, in 2002 a small group of day service staff in conjunction with a clinical psychologist set up a working group to consider how people with the most profound disabilities were currently being supported, how their needs were being met and how this might be improved. The level of funding that individuals received was also considered, as this would be an indicator of how much one to one time was available for each person. Visits to other day services helped the group to gain experience from what others had done and provided a basis upon which to develop our own service. A small staff survey was completed that looked at staff’s understanding of PMLD. It aimed to identify training needs within the team that would be supporting these individuals. Considerable work had been done within the service advocating a developmental perspective in

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SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive Learning Experience) understanding individuals’ functional abilities. Probably as a result of this work, staff had more realistic ideas about people with PMLD abilities than a previous group of staff working in residential settings (Pratt, 2000), where there was a consistent overestimation of individuals’ abilities. Intensive interaction (Nind & Hewitt, 2000) as an approach had already been successfully implemented within the day service for a small number of service users. As a result there was more enthusiasm for how to further support these individuals and others in a developmentally appropriate way.

provided from home. We made an agreement with the provider of these services that those individuals could access SMILE, with support from a member of their own staff team. Each group is a mixture of people, some who use the day services generally, and some who do not. Where possible the same staff members support people at SMILE in an attempt to ensure consistency. All service users attending come with their own member of support staff. This was a pre-requisite as appropriate one to one support is such a necessary part of developing basic communication skills with this group of people.

Aims of SMILE Put very simply SMILE aims to provide:

SMILE As a result of this work, SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive Learning Experience) was set up in June 2003 as a pilot project. One of the first questions to answer was – Who should be included in the new service? To answer this, we used developmental assessments that the clinical psychologist had already carried out, and day service staff’s knowledge of service users to ensure that only people with profound learning disabilities (using the broadest definition) were included. Clearly it would have been inappropriate to include individuals with profound physical difficulties but whose intellectual functioning was not within this range. Obviously, even within the broadest definition of PMLD, there is a wide range of abilities. In reality the majority of people who attended were functioning well below a 1-year level. In total 29 different individuals attended a SMILE session, a few people attending more than once. Based on this information people were loosely divided into groups. For example, one of the groups comprised individuals who were able to sign and who had some limitedspoken language. Consideration was also given to the sort of environment that individuals might prefer, eg, noisier vs quiet groups, and also if there were any known acquaintances or adversaries. As the groups have developed, the configurations have been reviewed regularly and altered as necessary. SMILE is based within the day service. It has its own room with all its equipment available there. A project leader (with knowledge and expertise in working with this group of people) was allocated ring-fenced time to set up and develop the group. Some limited finances (a few hundred pounds) were made available in order to purchase necessary equipment. Whilst SMILE is based within a day centre, it was set up tobe a resource for all people with PMLD who live in the local area. Not all of these people would have routinely come to the day centre, as their daytime occupation was

A venue for interaction / communication through the use of sensory stimulation using smell, touch, taste, sound and sight. This will involve intensive interaction, taking turns, sharing, waiting, listening, and making choices. Its objectives include: 1. To develop sociability and fundamental communication abilities 2. To develop emotional well-being 3. To develop cognitive abilities eg, cause and effect 4. To teach ways of spending time other than in selfinvolvement / ritualistic behaviour 5. To have fun! The sessions initially occurred every morning (five sessions per week). However, we have now included two afternoon sessions. A different scent represents each day of the week – orange, mint, lemon, lavender and vanilla. Each session is about 2 hours long. The groups vary in size between 4–6 service users. There is a worker who takes responsibility for leading the group, although they are also supporting an individual. Historically this has been a member of staff from within the day service. Over time the skills of a wide range of day service staff have developed and other staff members now take the lead. In some of the sessions, other people with learning difficulties who use the service assist the groups. This helps to build links with the rest of the centre and promotes more of a sense of being included in the whole service.

Content of sessions Having a dedicated room within the day service in effect acts as a cue for people: they associate the SMILE activities with that area of the building and know what is about to happen. Just before the group starts the same song is played, again to help cue people into what is about to happen.

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SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive Learning Experience) Each session follows a similar structure: • Good morning song Everyone is welcomed to the group with a ‘good morning’ song that is sung and signed to each person in turn. This aims to increase eye contact, vocalisations and signing. Each time the song is sung it starts with a ‘thumbs up’ which is the Makaton sign for ‘good’ or ‘good morning’. • Sensory boxes Next, individual sensory work occurs based upon the aroma of the day. SMILE has a large range of sensory objects that are used as a medium for interacting. These include bowls of bubbles, aroma boxes of different shapes, massage creams, bubble machines and fruit of the day, textured objects etc. Principles of Intensive Interaction are incorporated. Staff are encouraged to pause and await a response that may indicate that the person wants ‘more’. Making basic choices is encouraged. • Music and singing Music and singing happens for the next 10 minutes. This encourages vocalisations and group involvement. A parachute, large velvet elastic ring or instruments are used to facilitate this part of the group. Some of these sessions include techniques from Soundabout (, which encourages communication through patterns of sounds and silence. Rhythmical songs are used, the rhythm and repetition often being more important than the words. • Tea and coffee This provides a break from the activities. During this time different flavoured foods (eg, flavoured jellies and mousses, lavender cakes) and drink that correspond to the aroma of the day are offered. Individuals who have difficulty with eating / drinking are indicated on a planner on the wall in order to ensure health and safety. • Bag books This is the final part of the session. SMILE has eight bag books altogether. These are age appropriate multisensory stories that have tactile boards that listeners can manipulate throughout the story. These boards are passed around the group as the story is read. This encourages turn taking, sharing, waiting and anticipation, usually as the story reaches its climax. • Goodbye Each session finishes with a goodbye song, which acts as an indicator that the session is ending. There is one group whose communication skills are further developed. Instead of the sensory time this group has worked on various themed projects eg, animals, colours, mosaics, cooking. In addition these activities have been extended to community trips that correspond with the relevant theme. For example, this group had a 6

favourite song that involved a crocodile; they went on to make a paper maché crocodile and then had a trip to the wildlife park to see a real crocodile.

Progress Group progress is difficult to evaluate. Progress is measured for each individual, depending on the particular skills that they have developed. At the end of each session support staff are asked to complete a form on the person’s participation that day. New skills are noted. Reports are written annually, based upon the recording charts, and sent to people’s homes and other settings. For many people progress has been a succession of very small steps indeed. For some it is responding to their name being called; for others it has been an increasing awareness of other people, putting out a hand to initiate staff contact; others may have learnt a new word or sign, or learnt to wait their turn. Making simple choices has been one of the most common progressions. It has been vital to complete baseline assessments against which progress can be judged. Staff turnover is a frequent problem within services and, without baseline information, it is easy for new staff not to realise that the skills someone now has may not have already been there. Seeing progress has been a large motivator for staff to continue with this work. Each tiny step of progress is celebrated. SMILE has recently been nominated for a ‘project of excellence’ award by Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust. However our most important achievement is the progress of everyone who attends and the fun and laughter that our sessions provide.

Professional involvement The clinical psychologist who worked with the original working party has continued to be involved. Many developmental assessments (Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scale) had already been completed as part of routine clinical practice; hence there was already baseline information about a person’s abilities. A speech and language therapist has also become a key support to the SMILE team. The support from both professionals has included consultancy regarding progress or difficulties that may have arisen about individual people, as well as support regarding how to ‘move groups on’ or what the next developmental stage might be. A lot of teaching and training had taken place in the service in previous years regarding a developmental model and appropriate ways to support people with PMLD. It is the first author’s view that the skill level,

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SMILE (Sensory, Musical, Interactive Learning Experience) experience and motivation of the day service staff running SMILE on a day-to-day basis has resulted in probably less input from professionals than might be required in less favourable settings.

Tackling issues As is often the case with new services, a few issues arose during its early stages that needed to be addressed. For example, one of the effects of increasing people’s communication skills can be that individuals who once requested very little from staff start to ‘demand’ more attention. Whilst for most people this is something to celebrate, some do see such changes negatively. Another issue is that some support staff found the repetition difficult to tolerate. Clearly the structure and repetition has been a vital part in providing an optimum learning environment for the people who attend. Support from the project leader, flexible rotas and consultations have been key in addressing this and ensuring that the needs of clients are prioritised.

References Bartlett C & Bunning K (1997) The importance of communication partnerships: A study to investigate the communicative exchanges between staff and adults with learning disabilities. BJLD 25 148–152. Kellet M & Nind M (2003) Implementing Intensive Interaction in Schools. Guidance for practitioners, managers and coordinators. London: David Fulton. Lacey P & Ouvry C (Editors) (1998) People with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities: A Collaborative Approach to Meeting Complex Needs. London: David Fulton. Nind M & Hewett D (1994 & 2005) Access to Communication: developing the basics of communication in people with severe learning difficulties through intensive interaction. London: David Fulton. Nind M & Hewett D (2000) A Practical Guide to Intensive Interaction. Kidderminster: BILD. O’Brien J & Tyne A (1981) The Principle of Normalisation. London: VIA.

The future Staff running the group and those who support service users have continued to be inspired by the progress that people have made by being given the right support in order to learn. Many achievements are very small developmental steps; however, for the group of people that SMILE supports, they are huge achievements. The SMILE team are now looking to spread this good practice to other settings. For some people it is the first time that their individual preferences and ways of responding have been mapped out.

Perry J & Felce D (1994) Outcomes of ordinary housing

SMILE has become a model of good practice for how people with profound learning disabilities should be supported within day services. It is continuing to be developed throughout the county at other day services and at one college. Some service users who attend several services have begun to have SMILE-type sessions in other places, which is excellent news. Demand for consultation on how to set up such a service continues and SMILE has had a large number of visitors from services in other areas. Having had this opportunity of considering how the very complex and multiple needs of this group of people need to be met, many have subsequently expressed a wish to develop such a service. Visitors are always very welcome, but be warned, active participation is expected!

functional groupings a cause for concern. Mental Retardation 28 217–220.

Address for correspondence SMILE North Cherwell Day Services Redlands Centre Neithrop Avenue Banbury Oxon OX16 2NT

services in Wales: objective indicators. Mental Handicap Research 7 286–311. Pratt D (2000) Exploring the ‘over estimation career’ model: Residential support workers views about the developmental approach and their estimations of developmental level is people with profound learning disabilities. Unpublished – available from the author. Raynes NV (1980) The less you’ve got the less you get:

Rose J, Davis C & Gotch L (1993) A comparison of the services provided to people with profound and multiple disabilities in two different day centers. British Journal of Developmental Disabilities 39 (2) 83–94. Sparrow SS, Balla DA & Cichetti DV (1984) Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales. Minnisota: American Guidance Service. Ware J (2003) Creating a Responsive Environment for Peoplewith Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (2nd Edition). London: David Fulton. WHO (1992). International Classification of Diseases. Geneva: World Health Organization. Thank you to ‘Learning Disability Today’ for permission to reproduce this article which first appeared in their magazine last year.

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CD, DVD and Book Reviews ‘Inclusion in the Early Years’

’Play ideas for babies with Down syndrome’

By Cathy Nutbrown and Peter Clough Published by Sage Publications. The textbook provides an in-depth look at inclusion using research, practitioner narratives and examples from practice. Self-contained chapters make it easy to dip into. Chapters of interest include ‘Key studies on inclusion’ and ‘defining inclusion’ which help to formulate thinking. The key message is that all professionals need to listen to the most vulnerable group in society. But parents aren’t forgotten in the equation – there are clear guidelines for involving them in inclusive practice. There is an extensive reference section at the end of the book.

Take children on a virtual visit to the farm with this fun DVD. Tractor Ted Visits an Organic Farm features an animated Tractor Ted visiting a real organic farm where cows are milked, sheep graze, crops are weeded and vegetables grown – all without the use of pesticides. These happy animals and big machines are sure to grab children’s interest. Sing-along songs are also included. Cost £10.99 Tel: 01380 850840 or visit

Signalong have their new catalogue out ‘Publications and Services 2007’. They are a very accessible sign supported communication group who offer excellent publications, training, sign research and advice. For their catalogue or to find out more, contact or tel: 0870 774 3752 RNIB sends out a monthly ‘Books for Professionals’ eNewsletter available on or E-mail: books for


Cost £18.90 Tel: 023 9285 5330 or visit

The Little Book of Tuff Spot Activities

Visit an organic farm

Book list of useful books

Understanding how children with Down syndrome develop and relate to others is the first step in developing activities for them. This new DVD, Development in Practice – Activities for Babies with Down Syndrome, provides a basic overview of the communication methods of babies with this condition followed by ideas for ways to play and interact with them. Sections include ‘Communicating together’, ‘Positions for Play’, ‘Learning by watching’ and ‘Preparing to talk’. Published by the Down Syndrome Educational Trust, the DVD is aimed at professionals and parents caring for babies with Down syndrome.

All of the ideas in this book involve using a square or an octagonal shallow plastic tray, usually used for mixing cement called ‘Tuff Spots’. Most DIY stores sell them for around £20 but if you cannot get one, the highly creative and imaginative ideas filling this book can be adapted and used in an existing sand or water tray or large plastic box. Each page in the book follows a helpful, easy to follow structure, such as ‘what you might need when setting up the activity’ and ‘how to present it to the children’. One of the most magical ideas is called ‘Incy Wincy Spider’, where the children explore glitter in the Tuff Spot. It is suggested they go for a spider web spotting walk, read ‘The Very Busy Spider’, design and draw their own webs using greaseproof paper, glue, cooking oil and glitter ready for a sparkling display of the children’s unique webs. Price: £6.50 Available from: Tel: 0185 888 1212 A new book , including a DVD, is out from Flo Longhorn called ’The Sensology Workout – waking up the senses’ It is all about the seven sensory systems and the importance of waking them up each day, in order to sense, think and learn. Lots of sensory activities and ideas and all the latest information on the senses. Further details, call 0845 127 5281 or email the editor

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CD, DVD and Book Reviews A disgusting new Symbol Story Pack from the CALL Centre! The Beastly Story Symbol pack is a new set of three books that will be motivating and fun for children with speech, language and communication difficulties. CALL provides supporting symbol materials to help children to understand the text and participate in interactive storytelling sessions (either ‘low tech’ or programmed into/’read back’ from a simple voice output device). The books are suitable for children of any age. They have a limited amount of text, and a clear repetitive line running through them, with some recurring vocabulary (animals and birds). Only people with strong stomachs will like these amusing but fairly disgusting tales….. Please contact the CALL Centre if you require further information about services, publications or research. Tel: 0131 651 6235/6236 Email:

A message from Loopyjane I am an enthusiastic PMLD teacher and have had great inspiration from Information Exchange and attending some of Flo’s courses. I love teaching and enjoy researching new ways of giving the children what they need rather than what the government tell me they need. I found a great bookshop in Lyme Regis, Devon and wondered if you’d heard of these books I found there: Laurence Anholt and his Seriously Silly Rhymes, I thought would make superb poetry pockets and good for the sensory classroom and teachers who like to have fun in their classrooms. ‘Little Bo-Peep has Knickers that Bleep’ is a great little book of very silly, funny rhymes – Right up our Alley! by Laurence Anholt, illustrated by Arthur Robins Published by Orchard books ISBN 1 84121 016 1

Have a look at these excellent resources at:

Play Pack DVD Film – Starts with a taxi dropping off a passenger at the railway station. Watch her as she checks the train time-table, buys her ticket and finds the correct platform number for her departure. See other passengers arriving and departing on trains and enjoying refreshments from the station café. Finally, watch the lady board the train as the guard blows his whistle. CD Handbook – Includes Role-Play Guidance, Writing Frames, Roles and Resources, Still Photographs, Signs, Notices, Key Vocabulary and Foundation Stage Planning Sheet.

TRAIN DRIVER – Trousers, Jacket and Hat £24.00 STATION GUARD – High Visibility Waistcoat £8.50


Play Pack The Garden Centre – 14 mins Vegetable Garden – 9 mins DVD Film – Inspire a wonderful outdoor Role Play. At the Garden Centre see customers pick packets of seeds, coloured gloves, flower pots and pay for them at the till. Watch Grandad showing two boys around his vegetable garden, tasting different fruits, cutting apples and plums in halves and quarters to see inside. CD Handbook – Includes Role-Play Guidance, Writing Frames, 10+ Still Photographs, signs, Notices and Badges, Key Vocabulary and Healthy Eating Discussion Points. £20.00 Garden Centre Pack Created by Neil Griffiths, of Storysack fame. This pack contains a wealth of resources that will allow you to keep your Garden Centre Role-Play alive for weeks. Includes: Photocopiable play props, guidance sheets and a CD of songs. £24.99

Other titles in the series are: • The Emperor’s Underwear • Eco-wolf and the Three Pigs • Daft Jack and the Beanstalk • Old King Cole Played in Goal • The Fried Piper of Hamstring • Ding Dong Bell, What’s that Funny Smell?

Flower Seeds Book Follow the process of a flower’s development from seed to beautiful bloom. £4.99

The bookshop itself is well worth a visit as it is like a scene from a fairy tale. Not very wheelchair friendly though – a bit small.

Gardening Clothes Apron with pocket and child size gardening gloves. £10.00

Foldaway Flower Allows Demonstration and assembly of the basic elements of a plant. 10 velcro backed pieces and 4 labels. FLOWER £21.00

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CD, DVD and Book Reviews Personal Communication Passports: Guidelines for Good Practice (2003)

three sections. The first looks at general views of visual impairment; the second explores the impact of a visual impairment on the lives of young people and the third focuses on practical implications and support issues.

by Sally Millar with Stuart Aitken This book, illustrated in full colour, outlines key principles of making and using Passports and provides some examples taken from real Passports, created across the UK. Personal Communication Passports are a practical and person-centred way of supporting children, young people and adults who cannot easily speak for themselves. Passports aim to: • present the person positively as an individual, not as a set of ‘problems’ or ‘disabilities’. • provide a place for the person’s own views and preferences to be recorded and drawn to the attention of others. • reflect a ‘flavour’ of the person’s unique character. • describe the person’s most effective means of communication and how others can best communicate with and support the person. • draw together information from past and present, and from different contexts, to help staff and conversation partners understand the person, and have successful interactions. Personal Communication Passports Web Site If you are particularly interested in the development and use of Personal Communication Passports you will be pleased to know that there is now a CALL web site devoted to the topic. The site includes background information explaining what Passports are and downloadable templates for information collection and the creation of a basic passport and other resources. The site also includes information on training courses and links to other useful web sites.

“Speaking For Ourselves” DVD This DVD, which aims to raise awareness about visual impairment issues, was filmed as part of the West Midlands Social Inclusion Project. It was made by young people from Visual Impairment Resource Bases, Priestley Smith School in Birmingham and students from New College, Worcester. Aimed at sighted young people in the secondary sector, the DVD would be equally relevant to show to parents and professionals. It is about 25 minutes long and can be dipped into or used in its entirety. It is divided into


The Sensory Support Team have injected some humour into the DVD with sketches bases on “What Not to Wear” and “Can’t Cook Won’t Cook” and have used a Big Brother Diary format as a vehicle for the young people’s thoughts and feelings about their visual impairment. These diary extracts are the main strength of this DVD. Price: £7.50 Available from: Annie Bearfield, Sensory Support Team, Crystal House, Crystal Drive, Smethwick, Birmingham B66 1QG (Make cheques payable to: Sandwell MBC) I picked these up at my local library – lots of teddy bear stories, for very special children as well! Have teddy at hand when looking and reading teddy books – or else – Flo Again! by Ian Whybrow How all the little animals love hearing Daddy Bear tell stories! Babysitter Bear by Catherine and Laurence Anholt There is a lot of fun packed in the day when babysitter bear turns up. But guess what? There is a new baby at home when they return. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson Great big brown bear sleeps in his dark lair through the long cold winter, meanwhile a collection of animals and birds gradually move in to keep warm. How will he react when he wakes up? Kiss Good Night Sam by Amy Hest Sam has his story and his milk and is tucked up tight but he is still waiting for his good night kiss from Mrs Bear. Night Night Cuddly Bear by Martin Waddell The night time ritual for Joe of finding his cuddly teddy bear and getting him ready for bed. No Bed without Ted by Nicola Smee Rhyming story with lift the flaps. Ready for bed but no teddy to be seen. Where can he be? One Ted falls out of Bed by Julia Donaldson There is a lot of fun in the bedroom while the little child is asleep. Well Done Little Bear by Martin Waddell Big bear gives little bear the courage to go out and explore. Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough A lovely short rhyming tale of a boy and a bear but with a twist!

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Classroom strategies for children with Hyperacusis Somerset Sensory, Medical and Physical Support Service (Hearing) Classroom strategies for children with Hyperacusis With particular thanks to Jonathan Hazell, Director Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre, London, UK And pupils at Blackbrook Primary School, Taunton Some information about hyperacusis: • This term is used to describe a high level of sensitivity to sound. • Children with hyperacusis will experience abnormal discomfort to sounds that would be tolerated by most children. • Children with hyperacusis are unlikely to have a hearing loss. • Not all sounds of the same loudness cause discomfort. • Hyperacusis appears to be linked to other conditions and syndromes including tinnitus, autism, photophobia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and Williams syndrome. • Distressing sounds can include sudden loud noises like thunder, objects falling or balloons bursting, hand clapping, electrical noises like vacuum cleaners and electric shavers, loud music, and in some cases even people's voices or laughter. • Very specific phobic or aversive responses may be produced by sounds in a specific context e.g. the sound of pen on paper, body sounds such as eating or sneezing, the sound of shovelling cement etc. Other much louder sounds, without significance, may be tolerated normally. Signs and symptoms: • The noises are often very distressing to the children, who will typically put their hands over their ears and cry, or try to avoid the sounds, for example by leaving the room or turning off the television or radio. • Some children become particularly distressed in crowded, noisy environments such as the classroom, playground or workshop. • Children with hyperacusis may present with normal hearing thresholds (on an audiogram) but loudness discomfort levels are typically reduced. • Affected children may have difficulty hearing speech in noisy or poor listening conditions. • When an unwelcome sound occurs children with hyperacusis may show signs of anger, distress or panic. The link with their behaviour may not be obvious. • Children with hyperacusis may be inexplicably and unreasonably nervous of particular activities or rooms (where they have experienced distressing sounds before).

• In severe cases, children may refuse to attend school at all. Some strategies: • Observe and note any sound to which the child shows an abnormal or aversive reaction. • By using pictures (e.g. PECS) you may be able to identify other sounds which distress the child. • Treat the child's aversion to sound sympathetically and do not force them to be exposed. • Reassurance and a clear and simple explanation about the source of the noise often helps. • Whenever possible provide a warning just before predictable noises (e.g. fire drills, school bells or before switching on an appliance or machine). • The reactions will often diminish if the child is able to exercise some control over the sounds that cause discomfort. For example, encourage the child to turn on the television, or to help with classroom tasks by turning on an implement. • The child may be reassured if he knows that he can leave the room for a few minutes at any point, if he is exposed to a distressing noise. • Repeated gentle exposure to the sound will gradually reduce the sensitivity of the auditory nervous system. For example, tape record one or more distressing sounds and encourage the child to play back the tape, quietly at first, then gradually increasing the volume. • School and parents should work together with a slow programme for returning to normal noise exposure. If the programme is too rapid the aversion to sound will be increased. • Reward the child for progress, never criticize a reaction. • It is essential that parents, teachers and children understand the mechanism of hyperacusis and photophobia, as well as possible. More information is available on as well as advice about professional help, if this is needed. • Even if hyperacusis is part of another syndrome requiring separate treatment, the hyperacusis can respond independently to these strategies. Sound enrichment: Although children with hyperacusis often seek silence, this has the same effect as avoiding an allergy, or a phobic situation. Sensitivity and strength of reaction increases. Encourage children to have gentle background sounds all the time, especially at night. Water sounds are often best and commercial devices are widely available, though music or a fan may be preferred. Always let the child choose.

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Classroom strategies for children with Hyperacusis It is essential that the child enjoys the sound used for enrichment. If wearable sound generators are prescribed (as part of a retraining programme) - these should be encouraged during school hours. Often they produce a quite rapid reduction in sound intolerance when worn and may facilitate participation in activities otherwise avoided. Recognise progress positively without drawing attention to sound being uncomfortable, e.g. you are listening so well today. It is good practice to reducing noisy sound sources, high reverberation and sound overspill from neighbouring areas. This enables a clearer contrast between speech and background noise and reduces the overall sound level whilst also creating a more comfortable listening environment for all. Avoid silence! References: • Loudness recruitment and hyperacusis. RNID Fact Sheet • Hyperacusis. Demaree, G. 1998 • Guidelines for teachers. Williams Syndrome Federation, WSF. Udwin, O and Yule, W.


• Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre • Audiological Management of Hyperacusis in Children Marriage, J. 2003 • Management Approaches to Hyperacusis Marriage, J. 2003 Please contact the Sensory Support Service if you are interested in either of the following, which are currently in the planning stages: • Sound-sensitive - a leaflet for young people with hyperacusis • Planning appropriate strategies - practical guidance for class teachers Contacts: Hearing Therapist, Audiology Department, Musgrove Park Hospital 01823 342186 Sensory Support Service (Hearing) 01823 334475 Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre (Jonathan Hazell) Thank you to Peter Annear in Somerset, from the Hearing Support Team, for sending in this most useful leaflet, following a piece about hyperacusis in the last Information Exchange (issue 70) Well done Peter!’

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Lilli Nielsen – a Pioneer in Special Education Information Exchange continues the series of articles written by Lilli Nielsen

The Essef Board: Facilitating the Child’s Learning to Stand and Walk by Lilli Nielsen Refsnaesskolen, Kalundborg, Denmark Children who are unable to stand and walk are often placed in vertical position by means of a standing box or other equipment. Although such treatment may be of some kind of benefit for the child, in many cases, it does not help the child to learn to move his legs or achieve the ability to stand unsupported. If the child’s legs are tied to the standing box he has no opportunity to initiate leg movements or to learn further leg movements. Five years ago I began to consider whether we could do more to facilitate these children’s learning to stand and walk. It is a process that starts very early in life. Already while still a foetus the child exercises leg movements and he stems his feet towards the wall of the uterus. Immediately after the time of birth he continues to perform leg movements and he kicks towards whatever his feet come in contact with. Gradually he achieves more and more muscle strength in his legs and feet, and after some months he commences to manipulate the feet with his hands as well as to jump on the adult’s lap. Finally, when about 10 months old, he is able to display weightbearing and to keep his balance in standing position. (Nielsen, 1993) The child without disabilities has the opportunity to exercise leg movements without weightbearing during four to five months before and approximately 10 months after the time of birth. The child with disabilities is often so weak after the delivery that it is impossible for him to continue to move his legs, or spasticity is hindering further development of leg movements. During early infancy some children with disabilities either stop or minimize the performance of leg movements, resulting in The Essef Board in action!! Photos sent by Lilli Nielson

lack of muscle strength sufficient for movements, weightbearing and the ability to balance. The older the child becomes the more difficult it becomes for him to start the process of learning to stand unsupported. The Essef Board is designed to facilitate the child’s relearning to move his legs, to help him to achieve sufficient muscle strength and to encourage him to learn to balance. As long as the child is still unable to perform head control and to display weightbearing in any way he can be exposed to the Essef Board while lying in supine position on a Resonance Board, or while lying in prone position on a Support Bench. If the child needs reinforcement the surface of the Essef Board can be supplied with tactile-auditory interesting materials as, for example, the packaging material from the inside of a chocolate box, light crumpled up parchment paper, or chains of beads. When the child is able to sit with support from a wheelchair or an adult the Essef Board can be placed underneath the child’s feet allowing him to kick on it without having to display more weightbearing than he is able to or wants to do. When the child is able to stand without support he can be placed sitting on the Essef Board so that he can exercise balancing without displaying full weightbearing. When the child is able to stand with support he can be placed standing on the Essef Board in front of a bar so that he can learn to hold on to the bar while learning to balance. In the beginning of doing so the adult must be nearby ready to grasp the child

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Lilli Nielsen – a Pioneer in Special Education should he let go the bar, or to respond if he wants to share his experience with the adult either by leaning towards the adult or ‘falling’ in the adult’s arms.

Children with Vision Impairment and Multiple Disabilities”.

For the child who is able to stand and walk but still needs frequent exchange between find and gross motor activities the Essef Board can give easy access for fulfilment of this need. The ability to move legs influences the child’s opportunity to learn in many other aspects than achieving the ability to stand and walk, for example to learn to move from lying to sitting position, and to learn to undress and dress.

The Essef Board can be ordered at LH-verkstan, Ivarshyttevagen 14, 776 33 Hedemora, Sweden.

Further information on learning to move legs can be found in the book “Early Leaning – Step by Step in Reference Nielson, L. (1993): ‘Early Learning, Step by Step in Children with Vision Impairment and Multiple Disabilities’ SIKON.

TACPAC a fun, multi-sensory way to promote communication and movement through touch and music

About TACPAC Tacpac is based on the idea of tactile play, using the skin, the largest sensory organ in the body, as a primary means of contact. By varying the type of touch (regular/irregular, continuous/intermittent, textures, warm/cool etc), the helper provides a range of stimuli that heighten the receiver's levels of awareness and arousal and promote responses. Each touch stimulus is accompanied by a short, especially composed piece of music designed to match it in mood and enhance the experience. Through the contact use of Tacpac, the receiver learns to show responses that can be understood as, for example, like, dislike, want, reject, known, unknown; and begins to move in response to stimuli, anticipate activities, and relate to the helper. These primal responses that comprise pre-intentional and affective communication can be crucial steps towards more clearly defined intentional communication and even language acquisition. Tacpac is great fun with infants and toddlers, and also benefits a very wide age range of those with special needs and learning disabilities; educators, health practitioners and families can use it. We offer Tacpac activity packs and trainings on how to use the activities. Please keep visiting our website to learn of our latest developments email: tel: +44 (0)1865-772213


Issue 72 Summer 2007

Spotlight on a very special mum – Anne Sutcliffe A message from Elizabeth Love, Senior Teacher at The Cleveland Unit, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough Dear Flo, I am enclosing a copy of a speech given as the keynote speech at the launch of Early Support in Middlesbrough – sometime last year. When I heard Anne give the speech, I was struck by the vivid images used to describe her experience of being a mother of two boys, one of whom has profound and multiple special needs. It is a different ‘take’ on the well-known ‘Welcome to Holland’ piece, which we have shared with parents over many years. As with that piece, Anne’s description may help some professionals to empathise with parents and it may also strike a chord of recognition with some parents. Many people at the Launch day, who heard the speech, commented on how moving it was and how clearly it described a parent’s experience. We wondered if it was something that Information Exchange would be interested in publishing? Yes it is a very thought provoking speech Elizabeth, so here is the speech given by Anne Sutcliffe, mother of two sons, one of whom is extra special. Good Morning. My name is Anne Sutcliffe. Twenty-nine years ago I started working for the NHS. I have worked as a nurse and a midwife – in hospital and the community. I have taught midwifery and have worked as a university lecturer, running a degree in health care management for nurses, midwives and health visitors. I currently work as the Deputy Director of Nursing at South Tees Hospitals. I suppose I can say that my long association with the NHS means that I have an in-depth knowledge of health care and the health care system. I haven’t had any involvement in the Early Support project but am pleased to have been invited here today to chair this morning’s session and to talk briefly to you. I would like you to stop for a moment and imagine a situation which may well have happened to you – it has certainly happened to me – on more than one occasion!! In many ways the situation is no big deal but I would like you to think of the situation and think of how you may – or did – react – and how you might – or did – feel at the time.

You’re leaving your house one morning to go to work – or to an important appointment. You’re rushing because you’re a bit late – and as you grab your things – you discover that you can’t find your car keys – or perhaps your front door keys to get back in. You don’t know where your spare keys are. What do you do? • Rush around to all the places you may have left the keys • Rake through your handbag or search through all your pockets – or both • Ask anyone in the house if they have seen them • Shout at anyone in the house to get them looking too – or just shout at them anyway!! • Try and retrace your steps from where you last used the keys • Go back to all the likely places – virtually ransacking them this time! – Go to all the unlikely places as well • Blame everyone in the house for moving them – picking them up by mistake – or losing them • Sit at the bottom of the stairs and cry!! In the scheme of things – this is a very small LOSS – but in reality what’s happened is that you have lost control of a situation that you expected to be very normal and uncomplicated – and this can throw you completely. • You may feel a degree of panic • You can’t believe that this has happened – now of all times • You race around and get angry and frustrated • You want to blame somebody • You try to be rational and logical – but you are in danger of blowing the situation out of all proportion. I would like you to just hold those thoughts. Now what I would like you to do is to think about an orchestra. A very good orchestra – with some excellent and very talented musicians. Imagine that they are about to start playing and they realise that their conductor hasn’t arrived. Imagine that you are sitting in the audience and somebody comes to you and asks you to go onto the stage and conduct them. You don’t read music – and you certainly don’t know how to conduct an orchestra – but if you don’t do it, the concert can’t go ahead.

Issue 72 Summer 2007


Spotlight on a very special mum – Anne Sutcliffe The musicians can all play beautifully – separately – and some of them have played together before – but if someone isn’t conducting them – some will play at the wrong time – they’re likely to be disjointed – they might miss their cue – and they might all finish at a different time.

And yet there they are – conducting that orchestra – when they can’t read the music – and waving the baton doesn’t always seem to have the desired effect. I have relied very much today on images – and hope that they have helped to explain how I think that parents of children with disabilities can feel.

I think that – at times – the parents of a child born with disabilities can feel a bit like that person called up to conduct the orchestra – they can feel lonely and isolated – they can feel scared – unsure of what they are doing. They can feel that it is their responsibility to make things work – they can feel that there may be someone who would be more appropriate to make things work. They are working with very talented and knowledgeable people – and trying very hard to keep the whole thing together.

I have 2 other images which I would like to leave you with today. This is our youngest son – Philip – on holiday last year. Philip will be 16 next month – and has a wicked sense of humour. And this is Philip with his brother Martin – going wild in the swimming pool on holiday – the nervous hands behind them are mine – trying to stop them from drowning each other!! Philip is probably the worst culprit as water gives him so much freedom – and pleasure – and he takes full advantage of it!!

I am, of course, likening the players in the orchestra to the many professionals who may come into contact with the child and family. Parents can really value the contribution that each of the key players make for their child – but often it is the parents who have to remember all of the details – pass the messages on from one professional to the other – repeat the same story every time they come into contact with someone.

I have shown you this photo for two reasons. Firstly to point out that it is not just the child and the parents who are stumbling through all of this – but frequently there are brothers and sisters – as well as grandparents, aunties and uncles – and the impact on their lives can be enormous.

It is a huge responsibility for parents who are trying to do the best for their child. It can be incredibly frustrating and extremely painful having to repeat their story to everyone they come into contact with.

Secondly – babies and young children inevitably grow older – and I would like to remind policy makers that coordinated childcare is required not only in the very early years – but throughout the childhood years and for the rest of that person’s life.

I would like to ask you to return now to the lost keys situation. Remember those feelings around losing a set of keys – it was a loss that was probably very significant at the time.

Philip is fast approaching 16 and we are finding ourselves once again having to step forward to begin to co-ordinate what will happen to him when he leaves school in a couple of years time.

The loss that a parent experiences when their child is born with disabilities can be so very profound. They have lost the ‘normal’ child they were probably expecting. They have lost control of a situation that should have been very normal and uncomplicated.

I really welcome the Early Support initiative and the structured support it offers to parents of children with disabilities. I also believe that it will help the professionals who work with families – enabling them to provide a more joined up approach to family-centred care.

They often experience a real bereavement – one that can continue for the rest of their lives. At the same time – they are still trying to care for and love their baby – who still needs to be fed, bathed, clothed, played with – who still keeps them awake at night like all babies and young children have a habit of doing. They still have to do all of the things that everyone else has to do – shop, cook, clean, go to work, care for the rest of their family – be normal – get some order in their lives.


Issue 72 Summer 2007

Rag Bag To Buy Tangle 18 curved and jointed sections to twist and manipulate into limitless contortions. Great to fiddle with and difficult to put down. Available in original, and tactile ‘fuzzy’ version. All come in assorted colours. Small Tangle - £2.99 Small Fuzzy Tangle - £3.99

Squidgy Sparkle Shapes Squeeze them, bend them, press them. Children will enjoy playing with these colourful, glittery, sparkly shapes, while learning shape recognition at the same time. This pack of 2 x 6 different shapes is multicoloured to brighten up the classroom. Price: £19.99

Noodle Ball Pack 3 These fun, stretchy noodle balls will make any game of catch more exciting. With around 100 multicoloured silicone fingers, if feels like a wet noodle!

colours (plain red, pink, blue, green and purple and combinations of these and other bright colours). Both Elastic laces and Coilers are available in black, white and brown. Lace Locks are small gadgets which fit onto laces and ‘lock’ the lace in place. They may be a more discreet way of easily fastening laces for older children. One size. Price: £2.95 From: Fledglings Tel: 0845 458 1124 Fax: 0845 458 1125 email: Thank you for the Coiler Laces. They took a bit of time to get in, but they are brilliant and Thomas can now get his trainers on all by himself. How ‘Cool’ is that?!!! – Mrs E in Ashford.

Doll in a wheelchair This ‘Modern Miss’ cloth doll in her fashionable clothes and stylish wheelchair would be a great playmate. Children who are wheelchair users will identify with her and other children will learn through play to understand and accept those who are different from themselves. A good toy for inclusive play. Washable too. Price: £22.50 Available from Fledglings Tel: 0845 458 1124 Fax: 0845 458 1125 email:

Price: £3.95

Fine Motor Activity Board

Feel and Match

This strong wooden board has coloured knobs in primary colours which may be moved along the pathways cut out like a maze. The knobs are chunky and easy to grasp and encourage a child to develop good hand grip. The movements involved in the exercise are similar to those used for writing and drawing so may support the later development of those skills. If you have a digital camera, you can arrange the coloured knobs in a pattern and take a picture of it, like the one illustrated. (There are 16 patterns printed on the box.) Your child can then be asked to make a copy of the pattern from the photograph. This is a difficult task which may be suitable for a bright child with limited physical dexterity as it is mentally challenging but physically more straightforward than drawing.

This is a plain cotton bag containing sixteen pairs of small wooden cylinders, each pair of which contains a fabric of a different colour and texture. Feeling the textures helps a child to develop tactile awareness. Matching may be done by texture, good for visually impaired children, and by colour. Price: £19.95 Available from Fledglings Tel: 0845 458 1124 Fax: 0845 458 1125 email:

Elastic and Coiler Laces may benefit children with hemiplegia, dyspraxia, strokes or other conditions which affect dexterity or coordination. These laces which are effectively selftying, turn lace-up shoes into slip-ons. Coilers, or coiled elastic laces are available in a wide range of

Price: £15.50 Available from Fledglings Tel: 0845 458 1124 Fax: 0845 458 1125 email:

Issue 72 Summer 2007


Rag Bag To Buy Whoozit Activity Spiral

Hawkins Bazaar

Wrapped around a buggy or car seat the spiral toy stimulates awareness with bright colours, mirror, pull toy and scrunchy noises.

Things you thought had gone for ever, things you never even knew existed. Hawkins Bazaar is well known as the best source of unusual presents at Christmas, but they also offer exciting outdoor toys and rainy-day boredom busters to amuse and entertain whatever the season or the weather. Their unique range of curiosities, pocket-money toys, gadgets and games provide inspiration for birthday presents and parties throughout the year. The Hawkin range is available by mail order, on the web and through an ever-increasing chain of high-street shops.

Price: £15.99 Available from: Wood and Toys Tel: 0845 458 9292

Nuts and Bolts The ability to turn a screw in a thread may seem like a simple operation. This ingenious toy, which to a child’s imagination, can create forms and imaginary figures encourages and aids this important milestone of development.

Fish that don’t need Feeding

A brightly coloured web of rods, beads and balls, an all time favourite.

Mini Aquarium The tiny aquarium has two colourful fish which bob and swim about in a realistic fashion due to the current created by the pump. The UV lamp can also be switched on to make the fish glow in the dark. There are three possible designs: Puffer, Clown or Angel fish. We can’t guarantee which you will get but order more than one and they will be assorted.

Price: £10.99

£6.99 from Hawkins Bazaar (see above)

Available from: Wood and Toys Tel: 0845 458 9292

Expressive Babies – Unhappy/Happy

Price: £7.99 Available from Wood and Toys Tel: 0845 458 9292

Classic Skwish

UV Colour Change Surf Beads White beads that change colour in sunlight (time to cover up). Sure to be the coolest playground accessory. Blue, Orange-Yellow, Rainbow Price: £3.99 Available from: Wood and Toys Tel: 0845 458 9292

These very realistic opposing expressions will provoke many emotional reactions from children. Great for language development. £21.95 each

This wacky playmate will make senses twirl with oodles of activity. This colourful character has squishy shapes, squeaking, rattling and crinkling sounds and a special hidden mirror.

Bilibo is a versatile toy, perfect for rocking, spinning and climbing on as well as a great accessory for role-play. Suitable for children aged 2 to 7 years. Bilibo is ideal for both indoor and outdoor play, and invites children to use their imagination in an active and creative way.

Price: £7.99

£25.50 Telephone Spacekraft on 01274 581007

Available from: Wood and Toys Tel: 0845 458 9292



Issue 72 Summer 2007

Rag Bag To Buy Touch is such an important sensory system to explore,, Mike Ayres Design offers some beautifully crafted interactive tactile ideas which are set out below and also a vibratory (which is part of the touch system) floor. Tel: 01359 251551 Fax: 01359 251707 Web: email:

Portable Jelly Bar A small ultra violet light that can be used in a small box for immediate and close up effect. Works with batteries. Cost £14.95

Vibration Floor A simple, but very effective piece of interactive equipment. The whole platform vibrates when activated by any low voltage switch. It has an integral switch control unit and can therefore be operated in any one of four modes. The degree of vibration is also variable. Price: £898.88 inc VAT From Mike Ayers Design (see above for details)

Tactile Foot Boxes Each open-sided box has a tactile base inside and an interchangeable tactile disc on top. It can be used on the floor with hands and feet, or as a table-top activity. Very good for comparing texture with hands and feet, body awareness and communication skills.

Kill that smell! Urine spills are an inevitable part of life and regardless of how clean you keep your toilet floors, missed drops of urine can still penetrate floor coverings, to linger on wooden floorboards underneath. A product called Urine-Off claims to solve the problem, however old the odour and stains might be. Because urine traces are not always visible to the naked eye, you can use a special, pocket-sized UV light, known as a Urine Finder, which makes the urine glow in the dark, so you can identify exactly where the problem is. Hey presto! You apply the Urine-Off and, hopefully, all traces of urine are removed. It can also be used on soft toys, bedding, climbing frames, etc. Urine-Off is ready for use in 500ml, 1 litre or 5 litre spray bottles, Priced from £14.95

Price: Set 1 (5 boxes) - £113.98 Set 2 (5 boxes) - £113.98 Complete set (10 boxes) £222.08

Available from Fresh Industries Tel: 01245 425722

From Mike Ayers Design (see above for details)

A set of nine wooden multicultural face masks ideal for introducing children to different and opposing emotions. Each of the nine masks have an emotion printed on the front with the opposite emotion printed on the reverse.

Expression Masks

Matching Balls Seven pairs of matching balls in a wide range of materials. Wood, felt, stone, glass, rubber, cork and one pair makes sound. All contained in a hardwood box. A good way to develop tactile perception and communication skills through understanding the different weights, hardness, temperature, texture etc. Price: £123.38 From Mike Ayers Design (see above for details)

£27.95 per pack Fax: 0800 056 1438

Gelli baff This is an extraordinary experience, ultimate bath-time fun which turns the water to gooo…. .and back again! All you do is run water into the bath (paddling pool, a water tray or big bowl) and add the powder. The water turns to a thick slimy goo. After a gooey time, you just sprinkle the goo dissolver and watch the goo magically turn back to water. Totally safe and to be found in stores such as toys’r’us at about £4 a box.

Issue 72 Summer 2007


Rag Bag To Do Vibrating ideas Vibration is part of the tactile system; we feel vibrations through the skin. It is also part of the sound system as we listen to sounds that vibrate and convey meaning through the sound system in the ear. Here are lots of ideas to cause vibrations-try them for fun, to communicate and also for a zippy science lesson. Have a slinky toy at hand so you can imitate the vibratory sound waves by pulling and pushing the slinky. Cymbals You will need: A cymbal, a bag of rice, lentils or dried peas Warn the learner about the noise about to happen! Method: •Bang a cymbal and then place hands on to feel the vibrations • Hold the cymbal over a head and then bang the cymbal so the listener can feel the vibrations cascade under the cymbal • Try the activity using a large pan lid made of metal • Hold the cymbal and pour over a bag of rice as you bang, the vibrations should make the rice dance (hold over a tray to catch the fallen rice is a handy hint!) A rubber band guitar You will need: A sturdy shoebox and 4 large rubber bands. Method: • Stretch and place them across the open box so they can be plucked and pinged • Pluck the bands and watch and then feel the vibrations • Try thinner or thicker elastic bands for a different vibration A Plant pot xylophone – nice to build outside on a sunny day You will need: •Clay pots of different sizes •A pole (broom stick is ideal) •Strong string •And small pieces of wood dowel, larger that the hole in the bottom of the pot but not larger than the pot Method: • Tie a length of string on to each small piece of wood dowel • Thread through the hole inside the pot, the wood will stop the string from escaping the pot • Place long pole across two chairs like a rack • Tie each pot, by the threaded string, onto the pole, different lengths will make different vibratory sounds • Now tap the pots with different items such as a wooden or metal spoon and listen to the different vibratory sounds • Tap whilst holding one and see what you feel on your fingers 20

Vibrating bottles You will need: • A variety of different shaped plastic bottles with wide necks, small and large • Water, • Food colouring Method: • Fill bottles to different levels with the water • A few drops of food colour will add interest • Blow into the bottles and make a vibratory musical note • A short blow should give a high note, blow longer and the vibrations should be deeper The humming tuning fork You will need: • A tuning fork from the music room • A bowl of water Method: • Listen to the twang of the fork vibrating sounds into the ear • Twang the tuning fork and place in the water to see the patterns of sound • Try twanging and then putting it in some sand The vibrating cake tin You will need • A cake tin • A stretchy plastic bag larger than the tin • Rubber bands • Coloured sugar or hundreds and thousands • Bendy metal tray Method: • Stretch the plastic bag over the empty cake tin and secure with rubber bands • Sprinkle sugar onto the surface • Tap with a spoon and see what happens • The sugar should dance with the vibrations • Hold metal tray above the surface and wobble to make sound vibrations • The sugar should vibrate too Vibratory newspapers You will need: a pile of different sorts of newspapers Method: • Tap hands on a taut stretched piece of paper-fast and then slow • Tap fingers and feel a different vibration • Drop rice, dried peas, pasta or buttons on to the stretched paper-vibratory staccato noises • Roll up a newspaper; make a tube make sounds that vibrate in -try a raspberr • Tear paper fast and slowly • Roll into a ball •And throw to the bin!

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Rag Bag To Do Hanging Banging Noises


• Tie a rope or net between two trees, netball posts, door handles or chairs. • Hang pots, pans, tambourines, bells, anything that will make some noise when students pass under/through them with their wheelchairs. The more noise they can make, the better! • Another variation is to suspend cans, bells, pots and pans, from a pole laid across a across the backs of two chairs. Have students toss beanbags at this hanging wall of noise. Get students as close as they need to throw beanbags at the noisy wall. This helps the student with a range of movements as well as grasping and releasing skills. Let chaos reign!

• Have a wrapped item on a table with a sign that says, “Mystery Birthday Gift”. • Birthday Bag – Put several small objects into a paper bag. Include birthday items such as a birthday candle, a birthday hat and a birthday napkin. Have children sit in a circle with the birthday child sitting next to you. Let the birthday child reach into the bag and take out an object. Use the object to begin telling a special birthday story. Have the child continue taking one object at a time from the bag. As he or she does so, incorporate the objects into your story. • Birthday Chair – Purchase a sturdy wooden chair at a garage sale or car boot sale. Clean up the chair, then paint it with bright colours and add the words: ‘Happy Birthday’. Let the birthday child have the honour of sitting in the birthday chair on his or her special day.

An article from “Down Under” – Australia, sent in by Sheridan. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year when she was on study leave – a devoted practitioner – thanks Sheridan – Flo.

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 on 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. 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 use 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?

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Rest in Peace RaSpBerry


Chillout Zone – Teenagers Ideas for summer from Kay Evans especially for students Marshmallow messages You will need small marshmallows (or jelly babies), ice cream wafer biscuits and a bar of chocolate. • Melt the chocolate for 1 minute in a microwave or in a bowl in a pan of boiling water • Use the melted chocolate to stick the sweets on the wafers in patterns or initials.

Citrus mobile Use fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit. • Cut in half and look at the patterns inside the citrus fruit. • Smell the different citrus aromas. • Use them to print summer pictures. • Suspend on a coat hanger attached with string or ribbons. • Save some of the fruit to taste with or without sugar!

Fruit kebabs Use a variety of well-known fruits and a selection of the not-so-wellknown fruits such as papaya, watermelon, star fruit or mango. • Cut into different shapes and put chunks of these on a kebab stick or into a fruit salad to enjoy.

Seed Flowers • Use a variety of different seeds on cut out petal shapes and put them together to make the shape of a flower around a photo of each student.

Snazzy shirts Materials needed: white t-shirts, card board or thick paper cut to fit inside the t-shirts, tools such as brushes or sponges and fabric paints • Put the cardboard inside the t-shirt and cover the table with a waterproof cloth • Dip the brushes, tools or sponge into the paint and make a pattern on the front of the t-shirts, for example the shape of the sunshine or the students’ own designs. • Allow to dry and then put on a fashion show!


Sun cookies Ingredients needed • 75g of butter • 5g of Demerara sugar • 30g golden syrup • 150g of oats • Yellow food colouring • Icing sugar mixed with a small amount of water to make it like play dough • Sugar balls Method • Put the butter in a bowl with the sugar. Microwave them on HIGH for 1 minute. • Mix in the oats • Pour in the golden syrup and microwave on LOW for 6 minutes. • Allow cooling and then cut the mixture into sun or star shapes. • Mix icing sugar with yellow food colouring and a little water • Decorate the cake shapes with the icing sugar Peppermint Foot Fizz – to relax tired feet You will need • 2 drops of peppermint essential oil (Body Shop stock this oil) • 3 tblsps of sodium bicarbonate • 1 tblsp of citric acid • Bowl and warm water • Dissolve the ingredients all together in a bowl of warm (not hot) water and soak the feet for ten minutes • Gently pat the feet dry.

Sea Life/ Penguin Party You will need: Sliced bread (wholemeal is best), margarine, tinned tuna, cheese slices, tomato, thin carrot sticks, iceberg lettuce, fish shape cutter, plates and bowls. • Check for food allergies and dietary requirements. • Tear the lettuce to make seaweed and place on the plate. • Cut the cheese in to fish shapes add a tiny piece of tomato for the eye. • Make tuna sandwiches and cut into triangles. • Create a crab by using the sandwich for the body and the carrot sticks for legs and pincers. • Wash and peel the apple and arrange on the plate in the shape of sea creature (an octopus perhaps).

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Chillout Zone – Teenagers • Adapt the song ‘One elephant went out to play’ (from ‘This Little Puffin’ by Elizabeth Matterson, Puffin Books) to ‘One little penguin went out to play, upon an icy floe one day, he found it such enormous fun, that he called for (Choose a different sea creature) to come’

Make a collection of items connected with the sun • Sun-dried tomatoes, Sunny Delight fruit drink, Sun spread, sunflower oil, sun hats, sunglasses, sun creams etc

Make a mermaid • Draw around a student lying on a large piece of paper on the floor. • Make sure their legs are together. • Draw in a mermaids tail from the waist down over the legs with fins for the feet • Stick on sweet wrappers, foils, and tissue paper to make their tails shine.

Citizenship Education for Young People with Special Educational Needs: A Teaching Resource The activities contained within this downloadable programme were developed and written by teachers and piloted in schools. They are targeted at pupils with severe and profound multiple difficulties (SLD and PMLD) between the ages of 11 and 16, but are suitable for a wider ability and age range.

"Great for people living independently" Speakup DVD's give people the information they need to live more independent lives. They are produced by and for people with learning disabilities working in partnership with media professionals. They are clear, friendly and fantastic quality films on many subjects from parenting skills, tenancy agreements and opening bank accounts to bereavement, bulling, abuse, life planning, health and much more. Our current catalogue of 15 DVD's is available to buy now. You can buy them online or by sending us an order form and paying an invoice later. Visit for more information. From there you can order, download an order form or watch full length samples of the DVD's - so you can decide before you buy! Speakup is run by and for people with learning disabilities, everyone here gets paid a proper wage and is learning the skills needed to have a job.

Reading Posters Renaissance Learning has sponsored the production of the National Literacy Trust Football Reading Stars posters. The posters feature David James, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Smith. The offer is limited to one set per school. Further details from: HELLO AGAIN!

Designer T-Shirts

A Message from ‘Speakup’ "Going into Hospital" is another fantastic information DVD available for people with learning disabilities. The DVD is all about going into Hospital. It shows people with learning disabilities what happens, who the people are and explains the important information that everyone needs to know. Did you know that Speakup has been making information films for people with learning disabilities for over 12 years!

Fashionable clothing for disabled children, particularly for wheelchair users, has not always been easy to find, so this range of ‘cool’ T-shirts has been well received. Available in a range of popular colours with bold statements and attractive motifs, they wash well and are generously sized. 100% cotton. Available from Fledglings Tel: 0845 458 1124 Fax: 0845 458 1125 email:

Issue 72 Summer 2007


The Lesson response Plan by Stuart Gent The Lesson Response sheet started out in September 2000 when I was seeking to find a way of recording responses that my students with SLD or PMLD in the class were displaying. Since then the sheet has evolved numerous times to the format shown on the page opposite.The idea of the sheet was primarily to be a useful and quick way of recording sensory responses in all the National Curriculum subjects I was teaching. The sheet is based on typical responses that might be displayed by any student. These responses were heavily influenced by Flo Longhorn’s book ‘A Sensory Curriculum for Very Special People’. The lesson objectives and activities are laid out, so they are clear to all the adults working in the class, be they teachers, teaching assistants or therapists.

outlined by Liz Singleton and Leeds and Bradford Special School Coordinators Group.

Boxes are ticked when a response is displayed, either during or after the session, and then a ‘P’ level chosen that best reflects the responses. The ‘P’ level terms/descriptions are taken from the TRREACLE project

Thank you to Stuart for sending in his very interesting lesson response sheet seen on the next page – please contact him for further information and details at the address above or at

I have found the sheets to be really useful when seeking to write annual reports or to share at annual review meetings or parent’s evenings. Feedback from parents has been very positive, many finding them an enjoyable read and record of what’s going on in class. They have commented how the space for a photo is particularly enjoyable to see. Representatives from different Local Authorities, be they teaching advisors, educational psychologists or social workers have also commented on how ‘excellent and helpful’ they are to them. Stuart Gent St. Rose’s Special School, Stroud, Gloucestershire

My team (Elaine, Carol, Vicky and Mandy) and I along with one of my students (Tilly)


Issue 72 Summer 2007

The Lesson response Plan by Stuart Gent USEG

Lesson Response Sheet Name: Date: Subject:


Objective: Pupils should experience, explore, and investigate, record and communicate what they discover and learn about: Plants in the environment Details:

The children are to actively explore plants using their senses. Some plants are able to produce fruit. Today we tasted and smelt some fruits. Skills and knowledge Response to tasting pineapple Location of taste- accepts taste on lips

Moves towards the taste

Moves tongue against teeth

Facial expression changes

Spits taste out

Location of taste- accepts taste on tongue

Moves head

Moves tongue around inside mouth


Turns head away

Location of taste- accepts taste on side of mouth

Moves lips

Moves tongue outside mouth

Licks lips

Location of taste- accepts taste on back of mouth

Moves tongue



Moves mouth

Produces saliva

Savours taste

Facial expression changes

Spits taste out Turns head away

Turns self away


Response to tasting papaya Location of taste- accepts taste on lips

Moves towards the taste

Moves tongue against teeth

Location of taste- accepts taste on tongue

Moves head

Moves tongue around inside mouth


Location of taste- accepts taste on side of mouth

Moves lips

Moves tongue outside mouth

Licks lips

Location of taste- accepts taste on back of mouth

Turns self away


Moves tongue



Moves mouth

Produces saliva

Savours taste

Response to smelling a pomegranate Is Indifferent to the smell

Blinks rapidly




Nostrils dilate


Connects smell with a liked taste or situation

Sucking movements


Screws up nose


Moves nearer to smell

Lips close tightly



Stops hand mannerisms

Sniffs smell

Eyes widen


Turns head away

Connects smell with a disliked taste or situation

Increases hand mannerisms


Tracks smell by turning head

Moans Spits


Response to touching/feeling passion fruit Is indifferent to the physical stimulation Accepts physical stimulation Stills Facial expression changes Moves towards stimulation

Makes noises


Turns head to stimulation Moves arms and legs Rolls over to stimulation


Rubs hands



Pushes away




Withdraws self


Facial expression changes

Bangs head

Photo taken? Yes/No P1.1 P2.2

Tolerate Engage

P1.2 P3.1 P4-8


Video taken? Yes/No

React Anticipate Link Experiences

P2.1 P3.2

Respond Choose


Issue 72 Summer 2007


Electronic exchange Rubber face

Interactive play for children with autism

By Diana Seach – educational and family consultant in Interactive Play and senior lecturer in early years at Chichester university.

This website has some brilliant ideas to download and use on an interactive board. One is called ‘rubber face’ and you can press a switch and animate some very realistic faces into several emotions or guess the emotion being shown.

Speakup self advocacy This is of interest to those working with young adults who have special needs. This impressive website originates from the Rotherham area and has a range of videos on some very interesting subjects. The actors are all special and they do a great job. I looked at one on bereavement and it was simple, to the point and very clear to understand. I learnt a lot! You can buy the videos or look at them on the computer. Go to

If you look at the back cover of this magazine you will find details of a really good book, written by Diana Seach, all about the importance of play and its role in learning and interactions. Although it is written for children with autism, it sits very well in the understanding of the development of play for every child, including very special children and teenagers. The book is an in-depth comprehensive guide about play and its importance in the development of communication, social and thinking skills. It is carefully backed up with highlighted case studies where Diana has had direct interaction with a child, who has autism, in that particular chapter discussion. There is an ‘Interactive Play profile’ in the book but is at a much higher access level than that experienced by children with severe or profound disability, but it will complete the understanding of where the simplest levels of play may successfully end – on more abstract levels.

A message from Sue Granger in France Http:// They have some great stuff - song mitts including the very visually attractive 5 current buns in a bakers shop, and 5 little men in a flying saucer! Also story set puppets, 'expression' puppets, large hand puppets and giant 'story telling puppets. Lovely black and white animal print blankets in the 'baby gear' section, glow in the dark rubber bath ducks, bright furnishings for round the home and classroom... There is no end to it!

This is not a book just to dip into, it is a serious read. I have really enjoyed the challenge of finding out so much more about play as it is so well written researched, and annotated to sustain my interest. Well-done Diana! The book is available from the Internet or any good bookshop, details on the back cover.

‘Even more basic than the freedom of speech… is the freedom to speak’ Professor Stephen Hawking

Giving people a voice… ACE Centre Advisory Trust 92 Windmill Road Headington OxfordOX3 7DR 1865 759 800


Issue 72 Summer 2007

Multisensory Magic from Flo A sound bank is a practical communal resource that contains a wide range of sound materials. It will also contain books, articles and ideas all about sound, hearing and listening for everyone to access. It will grow and change over time. The Sound Bank should be set in a designated space easily accessible for all, including learners. A good idea would be to have it situated near the music area or dedicated sound space. It’s not a good idea to have it next to the quiet area! The most important feature with the sound bank is the person who has responsibility for the sound bank and area. Some of their work will include keeping it in order, checking for broken items or using a budget to buy new materials. Sound materials can be stored in crates with lids. A ‘See through ‘crate enables a quick identification of what the box contains. Materials can be sorted into sound units, for example: • A box of noisy sounds • Wind sounds • Tiny squeaky sounds • A box of books with sound or poetry parts • Auditory software for the computer or white board

• Clocks, alarm, ticking, cuckoo, electronic….. • Bells tinkly, deep, shaking… • Vibratory, toothbrush, toys…….. • Sound software graded for ability and age………. • A list of sound areas in/out of the building-the garden, under a bridge, inside a tent, under a tree • Contact list of people who make sounds e.g. the local musician, the organ player at a local church, the rapper or the choir • Soft sounds, a feather falling, a little bell, a thin piece of tin foil • Harsh sounds, a grater, a sieve with a spoon Some sounds will be repeated in several boxes. Bells, for example, could be in the soft, loud, cultural or brass sections. Look below for example of sound objects in designated boxes.

Wood • Wooden blocks • Chopsticks • Wooden drum and sticks • Twigs • Wooden instruments • Wooden bird whistle

Paper to scrunch, tear and shake There is also the opportunity to link in with equipment such as • A good quality radio • DVD player • Electronic keyboard • Piano with the back removed • Electronic drum set • Karaoke kit Here are some ideas for units of sound to begin a sound bank.

• Chocolate box wrappings • Cellophane • Tin foil • Tissue • Greaseproof • Cardboard • Pack of cards • Cardboard roll centre • Comb and paper

Blowing noises

Sound Units • Mechanical noises such as a musical box or electric fan • Paper-that can be crushed, scrumpled, shaken, waved torn….. • Subject related (e.g. music in the West Indies for a geography project) • DVDs such as classical quiet music and/or heavy metal • DVDs such as brass bands and/or panpipes • Party squeakers (for individual use only)

• Range of toy squeakers • Toy trumpet • Real trumpet (with musician attached if possible) • Whoopee cushion • Empty plastic bottle • Empty spray bottle • Hollow pipes • Balloons • Straws

Issue 72 Summer 2007


Multisensory Magic from Flo Smell the difference! Taken from IMAGINE being able to record a smell and play it back later, just as you can with sounds or images. Engineers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan are building an odour recorder capable of doing just that. Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse the odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals. Pambuk Somboon of the Tokyo team has done away with pre-prepared smells and developed a system that records and later reproduces the odours. It’s no easy task: “In video, you just need to record shades of red, green and blue,” he says. “But humans have 347 olfactory sensors, so we need a lot of source chemicals.” Somboon’s system will use 15 chemical-sensing microchips, or electronic noses, to pick up a broad range of aromas. These are then used to create a digital recipe from a set of 96 chemicals that can be chosen according to the purpose of each individual gadget. When you want to replay the smell, drops from the relevant vials are mixed, heated and vapourised. In tests so far, the system has successfully recorded and reproduced the smell of orange, lemon, apple, banana and melon. “We can even tell a green apple from a red apple,” Somboon says.

They do some excellent little smell cubes called vortex cubes and have a variety of very authentic smells (they do places like the Viking centre in York). I had a quick look and they have the smell of cannon, burning peat, leather/hide, oak and wood smoke so these would go well with your theme. They cost about £3 a cube and the smell lasts.’

Another set of sensory delights –sent in by Les Staves Everywhere is sensational and in the spring edition Flo took her grandchildren to the wrestling, where they experienced the tumult of the theatrical sporting spectacle. If I know her, she probably screamed herself hoarse at the gladiatorial conflict. In a different vein a great place I went this spring was the Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. With its garden paths, scrunching gravel, rolling grass, scented bowers, buzzing bees hot sun, shady places, water features, giant tree house. Nearly everywhere is wheelchair accessible even the suspended walkways in the giant tree house. I loved the maze of shining stainless water sculptures reflective cool and tactile. Here is a picture and a poem from one of them.

A Smelly Website– from the editor This excellent company does a whole range of smells in compact little smell boxes. I have just received animal poo smells and they are poo-poo! I have a ‘smelly socks’ one to go with a poem on smelly socks, and it is still going strong after 2 years, phew! They also do presentation theme packs for about £17 and I have just ordered the smells of the zoo as I am doing communication in a zoo next week and the dinosaur smell pack, for an eager grandson into such things. Here are some ideas if you are doing a war in history lesson. ‘If you want the authentic smells of the English Civil War then have a look at


Issue 72 Summer 2007

Seeing spinning water Swirling vortex curling Waving water column Spreading surface tension Glistening All the shattered colours Of the rainbow skin To put my finger in If I dare

Sensory cartoon page from Richard Hirstwood

Issue 72 Summer 2007


Yoga Health Yoga Therapy is Relaxing and Healthy! By Jo Manuel and Cheryl Taesali Yoga therapy is a relaxing and healthy sensory experience for children with specific requirements and complex needs. Not only is it beneficial for muscular strength, flexibility, and relaxation but children love their time on the mat, singing, stretching, breathing and learning yoga postures with their therapist! In order to determine the right programme for different needs, each child is assessed individually and a programme is created which is refined as they develop. Using hatha yoga as a basis, we divide the session into 5 sections: asanas or body postures, pranayama or breathing exercises, cleansing practices, music and sound therapy, and deep relaxation. The yoga therapist gently guides a child through postures for each of the five stages. The stages are as follows and each has its own benefits. The asanas or postures tone specific muscle and nerve groups, develop motor coordination, calm the nervous system and open neural pathways. The complete set of asanas cover the entire human body from the top of the head to the tips of the toes!

“The primary reason I am supportive of yoga for Sebastian is for his muscles and stretching.

Pranayama is the science of proper breathing. Breath is the main source of nourishment for all the cells of the body. The way we breathe also has a profound effect on the nervous system.

The biggest advantage is that he has not needed to repeat his botox treatments, because his muscles are loose enough now due to yoga therapy.

Cleansing practices include pranayama for eliminating excess phlegm and mucus from the respiratory system; eye exercises; and abdominal massage to improve digestion and relieve constipation.

Secondly, starting the group yoga class is one of the few things he and his brother can do together.

Music and sound therapy use rhythm and melody combined with hand movements and sound combinations. This develops concentration, breath coordination, communication and motor skills. Many children love to chant and listen to the soothing tones of tranquil music.

My ultimate goal is that learning to deep breathe will teach Sebastian how to calm himself when he is anxious.�

Deep relaxation is traditionally the conclusion and culmination of every yoga session. The period of relaxation allows the body to absorb all the benefits of the asanas, pranayama and cleansing practices. We use music as well as visualization and meditation techniques to help the child direct their minds to release points of tension and blockage. It is highly rewarding for a teacher or parent to see a hyperactive or highly nervous child lie still, breathe deeply and find a place of stillness and deep relaxation! Yoga is used by parents and teachers alike, for all types of Special Education Needs: Catherine, mother of Sebastian, age 7. (Sebastian has cerebral visual impairment, left field Homonymous Heminopia, Nystagmus, Facial Agnosia plus quadriplegic cerebral palsy, arrested hydrocephalus and severe learning difficulties.) 30

At the Special Yoga Centre, our policy is one of inclusion, so in some cases we encourage the children to join in group classes for children with specific requirements and/or regular daytime classes for children from two-teens. As the UK home of the Yoga for Special Child™ Programme we offer basic training courses for parents, carers, OTs and physios, as well as individual and group therapy for children with special needs. Next course begins October 22nd. The Special Yoga Centre Yoga for Everyone 1st Floor, The Tay Building, 2a Wrentham Ave, London NW10 3HA Tel: 020.8968.1900

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Conferences and courses Communication and Learning Enterprises (CandLE) are running their “Communication for All" course in November 2007 in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire just north of London. This course is for anyone involved in supporting people who have communication and/or learning difficulties. Areas covered includes: understanding AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication), using low, medium and high tech devices effectively, using non specialist and specialist software, teaching reading and spelling to people who have severe learning difficulties, understanding movement difficulty, improving assessment and record keeping, person-centred support. The course runs for 6 days but people who are not able to attend all 6 days may be able to negotiate partial attendance at a reduced cost. The cost for the 6 days (including refreshments) is £500 per person. For more information visit their website: Email: Tel: 07904693302

Do you see what I mean? Developing communication in children and young people with complex needs and poor sight.

Cerebral visual impairment Conference Date: 18 March 2008 Place: Nottingham Trainer: Professor Gordon Dutton Consultant paediatric ophthalmologist research professor Looking at brain damage and the visual problems that can occur. The day is divided into three sections: • How we use the brain to see • How damage impairs vision • Approaches to help children who have damage to the brain Contact for further details

Friday 8 February 2008 in London Keynote speakers will be Professor Isabel Amaral (Lisbon) and Dr Juliet Goldbart (Manchester). It will be a unique opportunity to hear about the latest research and to share ideas with other practitioners in this important field. Further details will be available in autumn 2007. To register your interest email

Please let us know of any relevant or interesting courses/conferences for the coming year 2008 – contact the editor at

Issue 72 Summer 2007

Sensology one-day events with Richard Hirstwood and Flo Longhorn Venue: Southampton 25 September 2007 Venue: Halifax 23 November 2007 Venue: Leicester 27 November 2007 Two day epic in London, including the dramatic Keith Park looking at ‘A Christmas Carol’ and rhyming slang on 3 and 4 December 2007 –Globe Theatre London Further details: or 0845 127 5281


Information Exchange - Summer 2007  

Information Exchange magazine - Issue 72 - Summer 2007

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