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Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Awards Galore at St. Margaret’s School

St Margaret’s School, part of the national charity ‘The Children’s Trust’, celebrated the achievements of 14 of its students in July, as they were given their qualifications as part of the Accreditation for Life and Living (ALL) scheme certified by Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR). Continued on page 34

Contents Information Exchange celebrates the journey that we all make along the 'journey of understanding' about the special babies, children, young people and adults who share our lives. It exists as a Forum and support for all who have, along with sensory needs, other complex ones. Information Exchange is compiled with help from many corners of the world - ideas written and spoken, ideas seen and experiences shared. It is fully independent and the Editorial Team work hard on a voluntary basis to bring out the magazine - three times a year. There are also unseen supporters of the magazine who help in many ways.

Information Exchange has a buzz that is fostered when readers get together through the magazine itself. The basic remit of the magazine is the exchange of information in an accessible and unbiased way. There is a delight in newly found discoveries, sensory trinkets, soothing aromas, new ideas, books, technology, issues to discuss and Rag Bag ideas to share.

Contents Editors page Sensory Stimulation Book, CD & DVD Reviews A Magical World of Story Umbrellas – Flo Key Skills ImPACT at Rosewood School Rag Bag to Buy Christmas Rag Bag to Make Rag Bag to Make – Freda Ideas Rag Bag to Make Make Your Own Ball Pit Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience A very happy 83rd birthday to Dr Lilli Nielsen Research Forum Electronic Exchange The disappearing monkey Workshop – Courses Sensabout – Sally Slater A Sensory Walk

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.


– to access toys Many of you will remember the front cover of Information Exchange last Christmas. It was of Bethany enjoying her sensory umbrella, full of glittery objects.

Copyright We have requests to reprint articles that have appeared in Information Exchange from time to time. Please note that such requests are passed on to the original authors for their decision on publication. Price - £6.00 per individual copy Advertising Rates Back Cover Full Page Half Page Quarter Page

£350.00 £250.00 £150.00 £75.00

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


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Very sadly, Bethany died earlier this year. Sandra Matanle, her Portage home visitor in Plymouth says ’ although her health had been up and down during her short life she brought joy to her family and they are devastated at the loss. She gained pleasure from all of the sensory ideas we used during our Portage visits and that the family took on board for use on a daily basis. In fact during the few sessions she had at her special school, they were amazed at her skills, particularly her use of a switch to access toys. Everyone associated with Information Exchange, send their heartfelt sympathy to her family, in memory of a beautiful very special child.

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Editorial Editorial

The Information Exchange Editorial Team

Dear Readers,

Flo Longhorn:

Welcome to a jam-packed double issue 75/76. There is also an excellent booklet included; this is of selected toys for special children, including older children as well. This was negotiated with the RNIB, who kindly agreed for this new issue to be included with this magazine. Enjoy! There are lots of Christmas ideas and buys in the magazine and now readers have lots of time to read and plan to do them. There are also three large articles for readers. A special thanks to Sheree Vickers and Kate Sullivan who took the time to write such lively multisensory articles, using their precious free time. Much appreciated, they are so good to read. There is news of Lilli Nielsen inside, she will be 83 this Christmas and I will send a bouquet of flowers to her from the readers of Information Exchange. Sadly, we heard of the sudden death of Bethany, who starred on the front cover of our last Christmas edition. We send our condolences to her family and there is a tribute to her in the magazine. I have also recently heard of the death of Hector, who was the star of previous magazines, and there will be a tribute to this very special boy in the Spring edition. Please keep sending in any news, articles, clips etc for the magazine. I am so happy when you do as I use less midnight oil!

Managing Editor, Consultant in Special Education Catherine de Haas: Parent and Speech and Language Therapist Sara Cliff: Subscriptions Secretary Kay Evans: Teacher and regular reader of IE Sue Granger: A volunteer who lives in France Sally Slater: Consultant in Special Education 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: 07964 225568 Email:

Editorial and Administration Address Flo Longhorn: Managing Editor 1A Potters Cross, Wootton, Bedfordshire MK43 9JG OR

Best seasonal greetings to everyone, Flo Longhorn

24 Fazantenlaan, Bredene-Am-Zee, B8450 Belgium Tel/Fax: 0845 127 5281 Email:

Val Wright from Penny Field School sent the following email: 'Have just looked through the Spring 2008 magazine. As usual full of great articles and ideas. However I have attempted to look at three websites featured without success…………..' Thanks for letting us know Val and also we are pleased that you read and use the magazine so well! We do check, as far as we are able, that the website all work at the time of going to press. They sometimes change or sometimes are incorrect when sent to us for use in the magazine. So, I am sending out a request to any reader of Information Exchange, to just proof read the magazine before it is sent to press – especially the websites on offer. This is not a bad job to do, as all the HARD work has been done; all it needs is an eagle eye!!! Please contact Flo who will be filled with gratitude, and Val will be happy too – perhaps she may volunteer???

Message from Sara Cliff the subscription secretary I can now be contacted by mobile phone. Telephone 07964 225568

Website and look for

”Information Exchange page”

Go to

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Sensory Stimulation This article is an unusual one for readers of Information Exchange as it is about an elderly woman in South Africa. It was sent to me to show the results of a sensory programme devised for a very special woman called Rose. The impact of a multisensory approach is brought home to readers as we read of how Rose, institutionalised for nearly all her life, has pleasure in her life again through a multisensory approach. It is wonderful to think that the multisensory work that is going on in the UK is spreading around the world!

Sensory Stimulation for Low Level Mental health care users Submitted by Kobie Zietsman At Randfontein Care Centre in Johannesburg, I have always received requests for programmes and activities for users functioning on a level of self-differentiation, and so have always tried different ways of sensory stimulation.

Her behaviour was described as morose, languagemonosyllabic, talked nonsense, laughed all day or became aggressive and violent. 1939 – Behaviour was childish, she became angry without Rose before the sensory session provocation, she talked to herself, was foolish and giggling. 1940 – was on LOA for one year. 1942 – was readmitted. Was destructive, irrational and had faulty habits.

In August 2006, Flo Longhorn a sensory stimulation specialist from U.K who established the sensory stimulation unit at Woodside Sanctuary almost 8 years ago, was persuaded by Sylvia Birkhead to give demonstrations of sensory stimulation routines to therapists and caregivers working with clients other than the intellectually disabled.

1947 – Apathetic and asocial.

Flo’s sound knowledge of the brain and sensory stimulation has enabled care givers to set SMART rehabilitation objectives such as “to stimulate brain function and memory, improve attention, improve understanding of instructions and provide fun and enjoyment.”

January 1975 – Transferred from Sterkfontein Hospital to East Rand Care Centre. Behaviour was described as mute, roaming around aimlessly and was unable to sit still.

Since the introduction of these programmes remarkable rehabilitation outcomes have been observed. The users are more alert, recognise when the session is going to take place and actually anticipate the fun and enjoyment. The caregivers express that they experience job satisfaction and that they feel that they are doing meaningful work. The following case study tells the story. Rose is a mental health care client at Randfontein Care Centre. She has been institutionalised for seventy years. She was born in Harding, Port Shepstone district. 1st admission was 8 November 1937, Town Hill Hospital.


1952 – Never spoke, mask like face, catatonic, totally withdrawn and asocial. 1961 – Received Largactil. Became more cooperative and not pulling blankets off others during the night. Stayed mute.

22 October 2006 – Transferred to Randfontein Care Centre. Her behaviour was described as, restless, disoriented, she did not speak, only made sounds, she needed assistance with self care, she was not aware of others, messy with urine and faeces. She was restless and overturned beds and chairs. 22 February 2007 – Started with sensory stimulation routine. She showed no response. 22 April 2007 – During a sensory stimulation session she showed interest, tried to follow instructions and she started laughing after tasting a ginger biscuit. She said: ‘Dit is Lekker.” Apparently it reminded her of her childhood.

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Sensory Stimulation • She recognises other group members and care givers. • She speaks in Afrikaans. • She is incontinent at night but goes to the toilet by herself during the day. • She is assisting with her self-care and can dry herself properly. • She is calm and sleeps well at night. • In the past she always sat with her head bent down and now she sits up facing you and even reaches out to you.

Rose enjoying a hand massage during the sensory session

Conclusion: It is possible to set SMART objectives for care, treatment and rehabilitation for mental health care users functioning on very low levels. The ultimate satisfaction is that caregivers can involve care users in meaningful activity and they can provide fun and enjoyment. There was improvement of function within the level of function and the burden of care was alleviated. And a final footnote, this is one of Roses companions in the sensory session when bubbles are used, the picture says everything!

Rose, during the session, looking at herself in a mirror

December 2007 – Her behaviour was described as follows; • She participates actively in sensory stimulation sessions, she sings Christmas carols, recognises the OTA and shows joy when she sees her.

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Book, CD and DVD Reviews requirements such as objects, special people in their life or special times such as swimming. Look for the section on interactive visual timetables in the parent’s section

New film on speech and language activities The latest film in the Trust’s acclaimed Down Syndrome in Practice series has just been released.

Through your Eyes

Speech and language activities for preschool children with Down syndrome focuses on practical strategies that can be included within everyday play, routines and activities. This new 76-minute DVD video explains and demonstrates a range of activities from promoting communication, speech and language development for preschool children with Down syndrome, from 18 months to 4 years. It focuses on practical activities that can be woven into everyday life and is illustrated throughout with video of children and their parents. The film provides a valuable and unique resource for parents and for professionals caring for preschool children with Down syndrome. Initial feedback from parents has been positive – one parent commented “I found this DVD really informative and practical. The information was easy to follow. It was nice to see all the activities demonstrated by parents and children. A great resource to refer back to as my child’s skills develop.” The film has been developed by the Trust’s world – renowned team of experts including Speech and Language specialists and Psychologists. The DVD is available to purchase from the Trust at £15.90 including VAT. You can find out more about this film at Tel: 023 9285 5330 Fax: 023 9285 5320 This is excellent and will be useful to all children and families.

The Downs Syndrome Association interactive timetable This visual timetable allows for the production of timetables with pictorial clues in a choice of formats in order to help memory, sequencing, and positive behaviour – really for all children!

This film is a unique and inspirational story of the only known deafblind triplets in the world and how their family struggled to cope. The story is told by actors Michael Madsen and David Carradine. On DVD Written and directed by Donny Hall, James Paul and Cory Hudson Distributed by Global Universal Film Group and Hands Free Entertainment. for clips

Teaching pupils with visual impairment – a guide to making the school curriculum accessible. By Ruth Salisbury David Fulton Publishers 2007 Paperback with CD, £28.99 This is a book filled with practical information and tips aimed at all teaching staff in primary or secondary schools working with a child who is blind or partially sighted. The chapters are comprehensive, covering many areas of the curriculum. The book is well laid out, making it easy to find specific information, and comes with a CD and related website. Overall, this is an excellent, practical resource for use in the classroom. Its clear, concise format enables the reader to access relevant information quickly. The accompanying CD is backed up with additional lists of further information and resources, making this an essential guide for new and experienced support assistants and teachers working with a child who has sight problems.

It can be constructed by use of the built in pictures or by the addition of those relating to individual


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Book, CD and DVD Reviews A new book download website for special readers It was created earlier this year as a result of collaboration between Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver (from the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies) and some of their Computer Science department colleagues at the University of North Carolina. Karen and David told many people about it when they did the AGOSCI National Tour around Australia in June and the Literacy in AAC Intensive in July. It is a FANTASTIC website for making and downloading talking books for use in supporting students of all ages with emerging literacy skills! And it’s FREE (thanks to the generosity of its creators)! Here is the link to the website: Here is some introductory information from the website: ‘Welcome to the Tar Heel Reader. Here you’ll find a collection of easy-to-read books on a wide variety of topics. Each book is switch accessible and speech enabled. You may download the books as a slide show in PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash format. If you don’t find a book that suits your reader’s interests you can easily make your own book.’ There are many, many books on this site already – freely available for you to download and use with your students. When reading these books you can choose a male, female or child voice and can also choose the colour of the page and the text.

‘Multisensory Rooms and Environments. Controlled Sensory Experiences for People with Profound and Multiple Disabilities’ by Susan Fowler This unique, fully photocopiable resource offers guidance and materials to aid those developing multisensory environments - artificially engineered spaces that encourage relaxation, social skills and learning by stimulating the five senses. Particularly useful for those working with people with multiple disabilities, this resource explains the theory underlying multisensory environments, describes the different types, and outlines the practicalities of planning, setting up and equipping a multisensory space. The resource also features useful checklists and tools for creating multisensory experiences in both designed and everyday settings, such as the kitchen, bathroom, garden or beach. Multisensory Environments is published using photocopy-friendly lay-flat binding and is an essential tool for any professional working with individuals with multiple disabilities. It is the perfect complement to Sensory Stimulation: Sensory-Focused Activities for People with Physical and Multiple Disabilities, also authored by Susan Fowler and published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Book details: Multisensory Rooms and Environments. Controlled Sensory Experiences for People with Profound and Multiple Disabilities. Susan Fowler June 2008 £29.99

You can also make your own books to add to the online library – either by yourself as resources or with your students as an activity, or the students can make them on their own or with buddies. To make your own books you will need to register at the link below. The registration code to use is ‘Literacy!’ .

Read about the latest statistical data (January 2008), for special educational needs provision in England, at

Once you are registered you will be sent a password via email. Ann Mudie on the sld forum website

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Book, CD and DVD Reviews Christmas Books for Special Readers These books are interactive and use sound and touch to add to the enjoyment of the story:

Early Books to Delight all Children Baby sees flowers* Baby boo! * Twinkle Twinkle! * Float and flutter* Ring ring! *Baby sees spots and dots!

Baby Jesus and the Noisy Stable This is a simple but effective telling of the Nativity, featuring full-page images of all the creatures in the Christmas story and incorporating animal noises into the text. A good sound interaction with the animal sounds. Price: £3.99 From: Lion Children’s Books

The Christmas Story – A pop–up Nativity book This chunky book comes with scenery for making your own Nativity scene, while under the flaps of each spread is an advent calendar and other props to add to the Nativity scene. Lots of activities useful in an inclusive classroom. Price: £12.99 From: Dorling Kindersley

Just the Job for Santa by Kate Lee and Edward Eaves A touch-and-feel book that follows Santa as he tries out new jobs, from astronaut, in his shiny spacesuit, to racing driver, in his smooth red helmet. All the jobs, he thinks, are fun – just not half as much fun as his tiring old job. Lots of fun! Price: £9.99 From: Campbell Books


This selection of books was chosen because of their simple level of access. A baby is at a simple level of exploring books and this fits in with early literacy levels for special children. The books encourage: Fun and interaction through a book Hearing a voice reading a story Remembering the story Predicting what comes next – boo! Exposure to vibrant high contrast colours and stark black and white designs • Using communication to interact with the story or book game through body movement, coos, sounds and smiles! • Babbling with the book – happens at around 6 months • A chance to see a face close up to enable a chance to copy the mouth movements for the sounds of spoken English – all 44 of them! • Begin to discriminate images and show preference for certain ones • Use nearly all the series in order to “read” – Touch – Vision – Movements big and small – Sound – Taste (if they are at the mouthing stage!) • • • • •

You can find them on Amazon, on the web, and in most children’s stores such as Early Learning on the High street.

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Book, CD and DVD Reviews Using Intensive Interaction and Sensory Integration: A Handbook for Those who Support People with Severe Autistic Spectrum Disorder By Phoebe Caldwell with Jane Horwood (2008) £12.99 People with severe autism experience the sensory information they receive from the world completely differently to those not on the spectrum. They feel cut off and overwhelmed, and their behaviour can become very distressed.This handbook shows how we can engage with people who are non-verbal or semi-verbal and sometimes even those who have speech but lose the power to process it when they are in crisis. We can help them to make sense of the world. Intensive Interaction uses a person’s own body language to make contact with them and Sensory Integration develops the capacity of an individual to receive, process and apply meaning to information provided by the senses through targeted physical activities. These techniques can be used to develop an environment tailored to the particular sensory needs of the person with severe autism, reducing factors that cause distress. With illustrations, case examples and a wide range of tried-and-tested techniques, this practical guide provides indispensable tools for parents, carers and other professionals supporting people with severe autism and other learning disabilities.

Playing laughing and learning with children on the autistic spectrum By Julie Moor Parents of young children newly diagnosed as on the autism spectrum are often at a loss for ideas about how best to help their child. Playing, Laughing and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum is not just a collection of play ideas; it shows how to break down activities into manageable stages, and looks at ways to gain a child's attention and motivation and to build on small achievements. Each chapter covers a collection of ideas around a theme, including music, art, physical activities, playing outdoors, puzzles, turn-taking and using existing toys to create play sequences. There are also chapters on introducing reading and making the most of television. This updated second edition contains an extensive chapter on how to use the computer, the Internet and the digital camera to find and make resources and activities, and suggests many suitable websites to help parents through the internet maze. The ideas are useful both for toddlers and primary age children who are still struggling with play. Praise for the first edition: An approachable and practical edition that will be welcomed by parents and carers alike. I know how hard it can be to find "How to" resources for parents. Well here is a gem. – Children, Young People and Families Book details: Playing, Laughing and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum. A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Carers. Julia Moor 2008 £13.99 JKP Publishers

Hello! A message sent by the Speakup team about new free resources about diabetes and people with learning disabilities Speakup has made a free DVD about Type 2 Diabetes for people with learning disabilities. The DVD is friendly, accessible and gives people information about Diabetes and how to life healthier lives. We made this DVD with money from the Department of Health. Diabetes UK have worked with us to help make this a really great DVD! We now want to make sure this important information is used by lots of people with learning disabilities. The DVD will be free to watch online and there will be free copies of the DVD available soon. Want to know more? Then please visit The Speakup Team

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A Magical world of story umbrellas – Flo Longhorn Umbrellas offer many opportunities for a special learner to stop look and listen with curiosity and interest. They can be motivated to attend with surprise and delight as a story Whirls past their eyes. They can calm and relax as an umbrella hides the outside world and provides an inner world of particular significance to them. The umbrella offers a chance to become a literate reader without a book in sight, a choice of exciting reading that provide the right opportunity to enter the world of books in an unconventional way. You will need a variety of different umbrellas, all colours and sizes. Plain colours such as black or grey are great for a clear contrast for the materials that will be attached to the umbrella story. IKEA usually have a good selection of umbrellas as well as cheap shops. Try to buy sturdy ones so that they have a long life as your teaching aid. If the umbrella has a pointed end, then super glue a ball to the end-to avoid accidental stabbings! Here is a close up of a tennis ball glued to the pointy end of the umbrella. When using the umbrella make sure it is safely used.

To make a story umbrella then first decide (or ask your special learner) what the theme will be and collect a range of materials to attach or stick to the umbrella. Pipe cleaners and a strong glue are useful for attaching objects.


A birthday umbrella under construction. It has balloons and birthday cards attached and there will be party favours, a birthday banner and ‘pretend’ parcels added as well.

Umbrellas can be purchased with features already on such as this one with cartoon animals. They could be used to illustrate a story about animals or perhaps project work. The images usually show through so they can be used by twirling slowly in front of the reader or they can be enclosed by the umbrella for a private view.

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A Magical world of story umbrellas – Flo Longhorn favourite story in a different dimension. In this way, Sammie has begun to generalise from her dolls into the more abstract reading skill of viewing moving colours.

Have a look at this umbrella which was made in India. You can see that it has beautiful coloured materials including sequins, gold thread, a gold tassel fringe and even a decorated handle. This umbrella may take a special child into another culture or offer a familiar environment found in their home.

This is inside an umbrella with a very simple addition of glowing stars. When it is used with a portable uvl light then it has a very clear image. It could be used for a numeracy lesson to count stars or see star shapes. The watcher could also be taken into a science lesson about space with the sounds from ‘2001– a space odyssey ‘being played as they watch the stars. Some learners may just need one star inside the umbrella so that they can concentrate on the one image and this intensifies and extends their attention span.

This umbrella was created for Sammie who loves Barbie dolls; the colours reflect the colours found in Barbie costumes she likessoft pink pastel colours. The ribbons and pastel nets were taken from fancy dress outfits bought from a cheap pound shop – for very little money. It also glows very well in ultra violet light so Sammie can view her

Here is a story about ‘under the sea’ with images

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A Magical world of story umbrellas – Flo Longhorn taken from magazine and laminated for strength and the little fish came from IKEA. The seaweed was torn pieces of an old lace curtain.

Inside a multicoloured rainbow umbrella. The umbrella is covered in swatches of coloured materials to add interest and also to alert vision with the movements of the colours.

“Here comes the bride’’ – the wedding of a lifetime under an umbrella! This tells the story of an Anglican wedding with pictures of the wedding, flowers, and the feather boa from the hen party and also words about weddings. It would be a lovely extension of a cultural story to create a wedding umbrella of a Muslim or Jewish wedding or other religious weddings.

A message on Flo’s email from Cath Young at Birches school in Manchester: -Just to let you know that I bought two black umbrellas from tescos value at £1.89! I’ve hung some UVL netting of different colours around one of them and it looks brill with the ultraviolet light.

The rainbow umbrella has small pieces of cloth (material swatches from a dressmakers department) sewn to areas of the umbrella. There are different shades of the primary colours to see. There is also the opportunity to see the colours move as the umbrella is twirled or shaken.


Also, the weekend after the course, me and my children spent the weekend eating Pringles crisps. My daughter kindly allowed me to have her pink and white feather boa and this was inserted in the empty tin to pop out. It’s perfect for our blossom poem; I have made the Pringles tin into the branch. I also found an old white golfing umbrella and made it into a weather umbrella to use with our weather poem. Our topic this term is ‘seasons’ and we tried it for our assembly on Friday and all the children went at the beginning ’wow’ and ‘ahh’

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Key Skills ImPACTS at Rosewood School Rosewood School, Southampton, is a non-maintained special school for up to 40 children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Run by the Rose Road Association, a local charity, the school offers a specialised curriculum focusing on the individual needs of each pupil, developing key skills in Communication, Cognitive Development, Environmental Control Technology, Physical skills, and Personal, Social and Health Education. The National Curriculum is used to provide a breadth of experience and learning opportunities in which to teach the key skills. The school has an attached therapy suite enabling staff to meet the therapeutic and medical needs of the pupils. The therapy team consist of physiotherapists, an occupational therapist, a full time nurse and two healthcare support workers, a hydrotherapy support worker, a speech and language therapist and a music therapist. Three years ago the school was looking to respond to National initiatives such as Every Child Matters and revisiting Excellence and Enjoyment; it was felt that the increased flexibility in the curriculum could really provide exciting opportunities for our pupils. The agreed value system of the staff was that we should be working towards a system where the pupils needs lead the innovations that we could potential develop. The Head proposed moving towards a Key Skills approach where key areas of learning were provided throughout the day and formed the basis of the pupils Individual Education Plan. A training day was organised to launch the Key skills Approach. Five large sheets of paper were placed around the school hall labelled as Communication; Cognition; Information Control Technology (ICT); Physical Development and Personal and Social health Education (PSHE). The whole staff team were then encouraged to work around the room putting down key learning areas or work that would fit under each of the headings. Great discussions took place as to where Science and technology would now go and reminiscing of this is how it used to be done! However when it came to the time to summarise and look at the areas the ICT sheet was blank. As the person leading the session this was a concern and I invited staff to feedback why this area was blank. It appeared clear that staff had the view it was all about computers and the equipment we didn’t have. I delivered a brief description of developing control but this was not well received. In fairness to all present a visual demonstration would have helped at this point. We did agree to launch under the 5 Key Skill areas

and that if, having completed the work in ICT, people still had concerns we would discuss its place as a Key Skill. Work began on revising the curriculum and Communication was the starting point. The school’s Belief and Aims at the time stated “We believe it is the fundamental right of every pupil to communicate, using a variety of techniques, so that they have some control over their lives”. Following an initial period of observation, review and discussion with classes I felt I had a clear picture of communication across the school. The school had linked together Communication and Literacy and the bias was towards pupils hearing language through books. The techniques used to facilitate communication were often formal and symbolic and pupils were not achieving targets set at Annual Review. A back to basics approach was taken and research undertaken on assessment packages available and current research on how communication develops studied. I had previously worked on communication assessments with Speech and Language Therapists in Worcestershire to develop a user friendly assessment at Blakebrook School, Kidderminster. We used this as a basis and were able to develop the work to specifically target pupils with Profound and Multiple Disabilities. Additional strands were added and developed in particular to target multi-sensory impaired pupils and very early interaction work. The assessment was launched at a training day where all staff, including our Therapy Team, Governors and Lunchtime staff were introduced to theories behind communication and their role in developing strategies with the pupils. We also used the information that could be gained from the assessment to produce an individual communication passport for every child. (See Fig 1). The key message of the day and exemplified in the assessments completed was to know what the pupil was currently using to communicate and move in small stages. The profile completed is designed to reinforce visually that each pupil is on a journey and final destination, in this case the formal communication system they may eventual develop was unique. It also helps to show parents where their child is and the steps still ahead of them before reaching a formal system. Finally the message was to celebrate what the child is actually doing and to develop a curriculum that reinforces this not that seeks to always move vertically onwards and upwards.

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Key Skills ImPACTS at Rosewood School Fig. 1

HOW I COMMUNICATE: Hello! I love company and attention, so please come and chat with me. If you can take me out of my chair and work with me on your lap I will enjoy physical games like rocking and bouncing. If I’m in my chair come close – I like it if you touch me or give me a tickle. I am learning to use my voice more so copy me if I make some sounds or leave some spaces in our chat for me to join in. I really like it if you exaggerate my sounds a bit. I will try to out-do you! I am also working on letting you know if I like or dislike different experiences, so try some games or activities and see if you can work out what I think about it. If you pause I may indicate that I would like some more by starting the action again.

Hello, my name is Jake. Thank you for looking at my Passport. It will help both of us if you read it.

TALK TO ME ABOUT: I love tickles, physical contact and physical play best. I am learning to use my voice more so be sure to leave some pauses so that I can join in.

MY NEEDS: IF I ……… Am happy – I may smile and vocalise or look relaxed Am unhappy – I will seem agitated and may ‘moan’ or I may cry Am In pain – I will cry Want you to go – I probably won’t communicate this as I enjoy attention Want some attention – I may vocalise Am Hungry – I am not letting people know this at the moment Am Thirsty – I am not letting people know this at the moment Want the Bathroom – I am not letting people know this at the moment Written in July 2007

The only other assessment used by the teachers at this time was at the end of the year when they inputted data on the B-Squared Assessment. Unfortunately as every pupil achieves within P1-3 the gradients of progression did not support the development of a Curriculum Plan. The Communication assessment needed to enhance and support the whole teaching process if staff were going to value it. A Curriculum was then designed that suggested rather than prescribed possible learning outcomes for pupils assessed at each of the levels. (see fig 2) This was trialled across the school and teachers fed back that the requirement to assess was now useful as it linked into what you then went on to teach. As staff took on the new initiative additional training was identified and from one initial day on communication we have completed 3 further full days and numerous twilight sessions, often these have been designed at the request of the staff as their skill levels in techniques like Intensive interaction develop they want to do more. Fig. 2 AREA FROM EARLY COMMUNICATION PROFILE







English P1(i)

To respond to sensory activities, experiences or environment. • To have a response that can be interpreted by a known adult. • To respond to sensory experiences using a consistentmovement/ behaviour e.g. opens mouth, moves foot • To respond to one sensory stimulus. • To respond to multi-sensory input. • To indicate a favourite activity • o develop more consistent responses to likes/dislikes • To respond to environmental changes

Use of ACA Observation sheet essential to profile and build a picture of learner’s potentially communicative behaviours. • Use of video to replay and look in more detail at reactions • A period of analysis and team discussion will enable potential communicative behaviours to be identified. • Use of ACA Identification sheet to support more focused observation of learner’s responses. • Build up a good, trusting relationship with learner • Sensitivity to needs and keeping routines very important • Organising of learning environment and ethos that promotes time and respect for the learner to engage and respond is essential.

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Specialist Toys Everyday ‘real’ objects • Musical Instruments • Variety of music • Switch toys • Therapy Pool • Ball pool • Guidance on Total Communication Approaches • A.C.A • TAC PAC • Multi-Sensory Room • Sensory boxes, materials, trolley • Resonance boards • Sound beam • Trampoline • Outdoor environments •

Key Skills ImPACTS at Rosewood School The school then moved to look at the development of early Cognitive skills and a similar approach of review, research and designing adopted. This time we invited our attached educational Psychologists to liaise with us. They felt that our work extended beyond their skill level but agreed to trial the assessments once completed. As a school staff we had to debate whether the word Cognition or cognitive skills was a better reflection of what we did or did the term Mathematical development apply. There is excellent research available that clearly demonstrates the brains early development and how this fits in to children eventually developing numerical, problem solving and spatial awareness skills. However in keeping with our view that parents need to be informed of the learning journey we didn’t want to confuse the potential outcome of an individuals journey to be the traditional view of Maths. We decided to use Cognitive Skills as a more realistic term for the development achievements the pupil would make. It also reflected that many other areas of National Curriculum coverage were also only accessible through the development of cognitive skills e.g. Science, design technology. Having agreed this assessment was then trialled both by the school and the Educational Psychologists. Once again positive feedback was received and along with a Curriculum it enhanced the provision and was clearly replacing the use of B-Squared.

curriculum development. The strand system we use (fig 3) covers the aspects of the Key Skill area in fine detail, where groups of pupils were not making progress we were able to offer additional training. We also established that each class was not sufficiently resourced to achieve aspects of the suggested curriculum and we were restricting the pupils learning opportunities. The data enabled us at a management level to set whole school targets that can lead to specific improvements and whole school consistency. For example every child is entitled to at least one session of 1:1 Intensive Interaction during the week, with no pre-determined outcome and a dedicated staff member. All pupils are showing improvement on the Interaction strand, additional training prioritised and the whole school has a shared understanding and increased skill level in delivering Intensive Interaction. As a result improvements have impacted on the quality of teaching and learning for every pupil and the quality of the provision enhanced. The next area for development was going to be a test of the previous successes as we started to develop ICT‌ It was following the early stages of research that I decided to re-name the subject, Environmental Control Technology. I felt this reflected a key area of need for pupils with PMLD when they have so little control of their environment and restricted access to learn how to control. The re-launch at a staff meeting of the inclusion of Environmental Control Technology as a Key Skill Area was positively received and the idea that it was all about computers was dispelled. From here we worked with the Occupational Therapist on effective positioning but also involved a local company QED to support an audit of what was currently available. When sharing some of my vision about the possibilities of control QED introduced the school to Possum a specialist company that made control technology units.

The Head and I then looked to use the data we were gathering and how this could be used at a how school level. For the teachers the collection of a tallied score supported evidence collection of progress made and the Annual review target setting. However we also wanted to show that the data collection could be used by the Management to support training, resourcing and

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


Key Skills ImPACTS at Rosewood School


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Key Skills ImPACTS at Rosewood School Possum had worked with a few other schools for pupils with Severe Learning Disabilities and at our initial meeting we had to establish that we had no pupils working at a symbolic level of understanding so access through symbols was not an option. Several meetings, a shared training day and using the expertise of both sets of staff (Possum and our own) we have begun the process of developing aspects of control across the school. We aim to develop within our school the Post 16 provision as an exemplary area using control technology. We feel a duty to the parents to empower them in their knowledge of just what is available to support an individual and the impact this can have in the home to reducing dependency. We shared a training day where each classroom and specialist room was audited to see how the pupil’s control could be increased, firstly if money was no object and secondly what could we change immediately. Currently we are working on developing the Physical Skills curriculum which has developed beyond our initial thinking. The Physio Team have worked to sequence the development and approach they undertake with pupils with PMLD. The Physios years of experience are being translated into an education friendly format and ensuring the physical well being of the pupil is prioritised by all staff. The training that has accompanied the development work has given the school a shared understanding and vocabulary of how to support, maintain and prevent further deterioration for our pupils. The work also brings the educational needs of the pupils into the planning of Physical positioning and vice a versa. The Physical Skills Key Skill is now divided into three (and soon to be four when we research further the development of Hydrotherapy) areas, these a re Gross Motor, Fine Motor and P.E. The expectation is that although the IEP will ensure aspects of the Physical Skills are delivered throughout the day, every pupil will also have a dedicated Physio Intervention session, PE lesson, Hand Skills Class and at least one session of Hydrotherapy a week. The work is current in the trialling stage across the school but early feedback from the school staff is that it is not only supporting their understanding but

allowing them to work more effectively with the child as their needs are clearly defined. The work is linking in with the other ImPACTS work and issues of positioning and assessment for switch control are being reviewed. So where are we going to next…… We are currently looking to publish our ImPACTS (Individualised Profile, Assessment, Curriculum and Target Setting) work as a web based resource and linking the launch to the setting up of our training centre based in the Bradbury Centre ( Roseroad’s Home Site). The impact that our work has had on the quality of teaching and learning for pupils with PMLD at the school has been significant. This is not just due to a paper based resource being produced but the whole process of working across the school and training linked to each Key Skill area. As a school our whole pupil population often are the minority population in many Special schools and we have the benefit of focusing only on the needs of pupils with PMLD. We hope that the ImPACTS work will provide us with a vehicle to share the practice developed but also to network and support other professionals. We have made the decision to use a web approach as oppose to a paper version as we want the work to be an ongoing development. The current version of our Communication Curriculum is very different than our first but reflects our growth in knowledge and understanding. We hope to gather data and feedback from other schools and to continue to refine the work. If you are interested in finding out more about our work you can contact Jenny Boyd (Head) at Rosewood School, The Bradbury Centre, 300 Aldermoor Road, Southampton SO16 5NA. Telephone 023 80721223 or email

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


Rag Bag To Buy Black lights

Minibeast Mat

You can buy some handy portable lights for use with fluorescent materials from

Creep through the woodland and discover plants, animals, insects and birds in their natural habitats. Buildup the landscape using our bark chippings, mopani wood, pea gravel and stones for lots of small world wet and dry sensory play. Mat size: 86cm square. Made from strong, wipe clean PVC.

They sell a small portable lantern with torch for £9.50 And A black light lantern for £69 which looks very sturdy. They also have a range of bulbs and black tube light fittings at reasonable costs. They also do a range of uvl makeup, hair sprays, nail varnish and also (especially for Teenagers) fluorescing tattoos for the Christmas disco!

£19.95 (suppliers below)

Mirrored Tuff Spot Safe, plastic mirror in an Active World Tray for group and individual observation of natural and man-made objects looking at symmetry and light. The mirror is wipe clean. Approx 86cm in diameter.

Alphabet Stones Just look at these beautiful alphabet stones – these tactile cold stones are just waiting to be held and enclosed by fingers. The bonus is the introduction of letters on the stones – a good touchy experience of literacy in action. Each set contains the lower case abc (I just hope there are no “throwers” in your group…) £15.00 0845 603 5309

£44.99 0800 318 686

Snow... Here’s something really different. Real snow! Well it feels like it, it’s even cold to touch. Just add water to create an erupting ‘blizzard of snow’. It can be kept and can be rehydrated to re-use. Just like they use on Hollywood movie sets.

(Perhaps you could take your group or child to the garden centre, select some stones yourself and put photos on them or stick on interesting objects – just a thought!)

Price: £5.00 From: Treasure Trove Toys

Numbers I spy bag

We guarantee you will have snow wherever you want with Pockos Snow Magic. Simply add water and you will be amazed to watch Snow Magic expand instantly, as much as 100 times its size. Looks and feels just like real snow. A cool idea is to put some made up snow in a plastic bag and pop it into the freezer for the ultimate snow experience!

The Numbers and Counting Eye Spy Bag will appeal to anyone. With the numbers from 0-9, they will become creative as they find many ways to count the items inside. £13.95 08456 445556


And more snow...

Price: £3.00 From: Pockos Tel: 02476 641927

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Christmas Rag Bag To Make Wrapping Christmas presents

A Christmas Memory Box

Add some jingly bells to the ribbons around a present. The jingly noise may indicate that it is for a special person and it is also such fun to hear the bells jingle, as the present is unwrapped from under the Christmas tree.

This is a lovely idea for keeping Christmas, winter memories or special thoughts together. The items can be examined, touched, smelt or seen and act as memory tags for pleasant memories.

A quick Christmas cooking activity All you need for a quick, and very sqidgy Christmas activity, is some turkey stuffing. Look for a specialist stuffing that will give a really strong smell, sage is a good one or chestnut and cranberry is very seasonal. Make the recipe up, as on the box, this is where microwaves come in very handy! Then place the stuffing on a clean board for everyone to roll. Squeeze, poke, prod and taste. The warm textures are especially appealing to most hands. When they reach the stage of small balls, then either cook and eat or send home in a polythene container for home.

A Christmas object of reference or signifier As Christmas is such a special time, it is important to find an appropriate object that can be used as a prompt to know what season it is. A bundle of cinnamon sticks tied with a Christmas ribbon, give a lovely seasonal smell. A gluwein sachet filled with spices and herbs, a fir cone with a drop of pine oil for a good tree smell. Don’t forget that the same object should be used in all settings so there is no confusion about the season.

You will need: • A sturdy box, perhaps a chocolate box or nice tin with a lid-the box can be decorated with paints or with glitter and glue, use imagination and give lots of choice • Tissue paper or shredded paper to keep the objects safe inside The owner of the box then needs to: • Choose Christmas objects, favourite photos perhaps a Christmas smell to remember happy times • Add a poem too, to make it very personal • Here is one that could have been just written for a Christmas memory box

Christmas Eve trip If you hear a creak at Christmas in the middle of the night, it’ll just be Santa searching to find your toilet light. For after flying round the world and one sherry too many, Santa will always need to stop and spend a little penny! By Andrew Collett – have a look on the web for his excellent poetry book

Have a Christmas stamp with these lovely Christmas designs, easy for hands to hold as they have a plastic handle Pack of 14 @ £3.50 From Philip&Tacey at 0845 123 7760

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


Christmas Rag Bag To Make

Christmas Spice Bags • Explore the smells associated with the festive season and provide resources for the children to make perfumed bags: circles of attractive fabric (cut out using pinking shears), ribbon and a selection of fragrant herbs and spices, such as lavender, cloves, rosemary and small pieces of cinnamon sticks. • Help the children place the herbs and spices in the centre of the circles of fabric and gather up the sides to form a small bag. • Tie the neck of the bag and form a hanging loop with thin ribbon. They can be hung on the Christmas tree or hang in the car for Christmas smells everywhere you go!

Snowstorms • Have fun playing with snowstorms and supply the resources for the children to create their own. • Provide plastic jars with screw-top lids (baby food jars are ideal), small figures (those used for cake decorations are ideal), glitter or desiccated coconut (check for allergies first) and waterproof glue. • Where necessary, help the children to glue the figures to the base of the jar and to screw on the lid once they have added the water and ‘snowflakes’.

Christmas Mincemeat This is a delicious recipe that requires no cooking, until put into a mince pie. Fruit juice is substituted for brandy so it needs to be used in a reasonable period of time.


A visit to the supermarket to buy these seasonal ingredients is a must. You will need: • 1kg mixed dried fruit • 250g mixed chopped peel • 200g Demerara brown sugar • 175g shredded suet (vegetarian) • 250g apples • 2 large lemons • 8 tablespoons of apple and mango juice and the spices • 2 teaspoons mixed spice • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1 nutmeg You will also need a nutmeg or very fine grater, a lemon squeezer and some clean jars with lids. Making the mincemeat • Put the peel, suet and about three quarters of the dried fruit into a large bowl and mix well • Chop the rest of the dried fruit into tiny pieces and mix in – leave aside • Grate the lemon skins into a small bowl. Squeeze the lemons and add the juice as well • Grate the nutmeg – watch for fingers on the grater! – and add it with the cinnamon and mixed spice, to the bowl • Wash the apple, remove the core and chop into tiny pieces – stir in • Lastly, add the apple and mango juice • Tip everything into the large bowl. Everyone take a turn to mix the ingredients – have a good sniff! • Put the mincemeat into the jars, put on the lids and store in a cool place. • The mincemeat can go home as a lovely seasonal gift to make mince pies for everyone. • Cover the top of the jar with a circle of material – kept on with a rubber band. Just use the lid as a guide to how big the circle, should be larger than the lid itself. Good eating!

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Rag Bag To Make – Freda ideas Adapted Stories from Freda Leask in Scotland

We’re going on a Dragon Hunt (adapted from the famous Bear Hunt story)

An Adapted Story from the book “Kipper’s Toy box’’ This story worked well in a sensory session, and it is one that could be adapted for any selection of children. It’s not necessary to use the storybook, but pinch the idea and use toys etc. to suit the children in the group. Equipment: • A bright box • Enough visually interesting toys to allow for two turns each. These should go inside the box. • A Mouse finger puppet. • Big Macs with messages: “What’s inside the box?” “Let’s look in the box.” “Wow, look at that!” Ideas: • Draw the group’s interest to the box. • Get them to listen as you make a scratchy sound on the bottom. • Get one of them to press, “Let’s look in the box.” • Ask who is going to have a look first and wait for a response (a look, or vocalization…). • A third Big Mac could have a comment on it for the third member of the group, e.g. “Wow, look at that!” • They then get a chance to find a toy, reach in and get it out. • Encourage everyone to look at the toy. • Repeat the scratchy sound. • (Wait and see if Big Mac is pressed spontaneously) • “What’s inside the box?” • Repeat as before. • Continue until everyone has one or two turns. Elaborate the story as you go. • Eventually, at the end, let them see that the mouse is making the scratchy sounds. Have it chasing, hiding etc.

Equipment: • Macs with messages: Shimmery curtain – for long grass • Survival blanket – water • Basin with water – water • Towel • Resonance board – bridge • Goop – mud • Some sort of dragon – e.g. large fluorescent picture on the dark room wall • Frieze paper with contrasting footprints • Big Mac with words on: “We are going on a dragon hunt!” “Look, what’s this?” “I’m not scared.” Ideas: Use the dragon hunt story as a starting point and set the scene. Each time they start to move, the leader should have the message, “We’re going on a dragon hunt!” and should press the Big Mac. The children are on the move for this, so should be in their chairs. They should have access to a Big Mac each. The classroom would need to be set up beforehand with visual/tactile stations to represent the things they come to in the story. Someone should say, “Look, what’s this?” each time they come to an obstacle. The next person would say, “I’m not scared.” • Shimmery curtain hung from the line already in the classroom (Couldn’t go over it round it/had to go through it, etc.) • Survival blanket laid out to represent the river, a basin should also be nearby for splashy sound (This should make a fine sound when the chairs go over it. Get a volunteer to make splashy sounds) • Another kind of surface, such as a gym mat for mud. A basin with goop would be on it, for tactile mud! (Give them all a squelch) • Resonance board to represent a bridge • Footprints on frieze paper leading towards the dark room door • A dragon on the wall!

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


Rag Bag To Make Mud pie cake

Crayola modelling glowing compound

This is such fun, and has a good tasty end result! • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour • 1 cup sugar • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder • 1 tsp. baking soda • 1/2 tsp. salt • 1/3 cup cooking oil • 1 tbsp. vinegar • 1 tsp. vanilla • 1 cup water • Heavy duty plastic bag

that is soft, pliable and very lightweight and a good alternative to play dough. It comes in a bucket in a larger pack as well.

• Place the flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt into the plastic bag • Seal bag and shake to mix well. • Put this mixture into an ungreased 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking pan. • Use a table fork to make a hole in the middle of the flour mixture. • Mix oil, vanilla and vinegar in a jug and pour into the hole. • Pour a cup of water into the hole. • Stir together all the ingredients with a fork to make a muddy mess-you should see some bubbles at this point! • Mix well. • Pour into the baking pan • Bake in oven set at 350f or 180c electric – gas mark 4 for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with ice cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry.

Here are some art resources for use with black lights (see page 18 for light suppliers) They are taken from the Philip & Tacey catalogue Contact them for a free catalogue to find out more, at 0845 123 7760 or

Glowpaints, which glow under UVL lights. Eight bottles for a lovely choice of glowing colours


This polyester silk comes in 6 vibrant glowing colours. Some of them glow and they can also be painted upon with uvl paints

Woodside World Unfortunately we did not receive enough confirmed tickets sales for this event to go ahead last June. So Sally and Flo had to reluctantly cancel the event. Thank you so much to all the amazing volunteers (we had more volunteers than bookings) especially the team at Woodside Centre and SENSE in Bristol. Also a big ~thank you~ to Sally Silverman who worked so hard for this event. Fortunately, other fundraising activities for Woodside Sanctuary in Johannesburg went ahead and a large cheque is being sent out to them, this month. ~ Flo Longhorn editor ~

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Make Your Own Ball Pit Are you looking for a way to entertain children on a cold winter day? How about bringing the ball pit from your local arcade into your own home? You'll be amazed how much fun you can conjure up with just a few bags of colorful balls and a bathtub!

What You'll Need: • A few bags of small plastic balls (available at party supply and toy stores) • A bath tub (to play inside) • A small kiddies pool (to play outside)

Making Your Ball Pit Making a ball pit is so easy. Just pour a few bags of colorful balls into your bath tub, add kids, and your on your way to an afternoon full of fun!

Getting the Most Out of Your Ball Pit • There are many ways you can use a ball pit to entertain—and educate—your child. Here are some fun ideas: • Teach your visually impaired child that things can be hidden under other things. This can be a difficult concept for a blind child to grasp, but by simply "burying" some of their favorite toys in the ball pit you can encourage them to dig and discover hidden treasure under the balls. • Is the weather too nice to stay indoors? Why not bring the ball pit outside by filling a small kiddies pool with balls? If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can even set up a relay area in your back yard with fun activity spots: a ball pit, a pool, a small trampoline, a swing set, a sandbox, a sprinkler, or any other fun activity you can think of. Invite the whole neighborhood over for a day of summer fun! • Fill the tub with warm water before adding the balls. Now, instead of a bubble bath you have a ball bath! Bring in some heavy toys and teach your kids about how some things float and some things sink. Thank you to for giving permission to use materials from their wonderful site – go take a peek!

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Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

Sensory Support Service – 12th/13th November 2007 written by Kate Sullivan In November 2007 the Vision Support Team, Bristol ran 2 training days for non-teaching assistants supporting children with visual needs. I developed a sensory experience a ‘Trip to Morocco’ in the hydrotherapy pool at Claremont School, Bristol. Firstly I carried out research looking at the work of Oily Cart and gathered ideas from colleagues. The participants joined in with the activities within the pool but I also gave them ideas they could use for preparation activities in the classroom and follow up activities Things to sort out: Materials along the corridor leading to the pool, materials over pool with large balloons Gather resources and props Use of light stimulation and music system Drinks and refreshments Laminate activity station worksheets

Preparation Activities in the Classroom: Visit a Travel Agency; gather brochures and choosing your holiday PowerPoint of Moroccan Pictures and appropriate music Packing your suitcase – clothes, shorts, T shirts, swimming suit Sun protection – sunhat, suntan lotion Make fun passport e.g. shape of palm leaves or camels should be made in advance and decorated – with or without child’s photographs Simulate an aeroplane journey to Morocco Pre- activities - water and sand play including pebbles Pampering session – hairstyles and nail varnish on finger and toe nails Resources: Incense sticks in entrance Fabric across the pool and entrance billowing – use an electric fan on a power link Large balloons – punch ball ones – hanging over pool Moroccan flags - laminated Moroccan music Head dresses, scarves with medals Jugs, sieves, silver bowls, sponges Snake charmer – large silver snake made from a swimming toggle


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

Large palm fan and battery operated fan Plastic curtains, corrugated plastic or guttering and / or clear umbrellas, trays Water sprays Treasure chest – small bowls, stones, gems, small snakes Waterproof torches Floating island – large float cover in a survival blanket Refreshments - sweet mint tea, coffee, fruit for fruit juice, dried fruit, nuts, Cous cous and ingredients to flavour Silver Teapot and coffee glasses Kettle and Juicer – power link and switch Music instruments – drums and cymbals Water Activities: Adjustment to water can begin outside the pool using bowls of water with sponges e.g. allow child to squeeze out the water or adult gently squeezes over child’s arm. Battery operated bubble machine to create bubbles on entering the pool. In a circle to sing a snappy ‘hello’ to start the activities in the pool Activity Stations: I arranged the 4 Activities Stations around the pool so the participants could be divided into pairs and experiment with the resources, but with a class group you may prefer to work together. 1. Using our bodies to move through in the water and make sounds: Using hands and feet to splash ripple and clap controlling the sound to get louder and quieter Moving through the water at varying speeds, sometimes fast, sometimes more slowly. Riding a camel use swimmer toggles - waddling movements Extension activities with their class - start / stop game with different instruments 2. Using resources to make sounds and sensory awareness Moving items around the circle to create different sounds Sprinkling water through sieves and watering can, Saucepans / large bowls to slosh water Sponging water onto arms and legs Spraying water onto arms and legs

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Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

3. Making waves and feeling the wind Waves – using plastic trays Running water down plastic curtain / clear umbrellas – watch them spin Large fan to create a breeze – can we hear the wind, see the materials move Blowing bubbles – handheld bubbles Blowing bubbles – through silver hoses Plunge plastic beer glasses down into the water and then slowly turn them upwards – near the child’s body

Extension activity in the class – blowing in large bowls of soapy water creates a mountain of bubbles use a torch or projector to highlight 4. Finding souvenirs to take home Collecting stones, gems, snakes around the oasis to make up treasure in individual silver bowls Waterproof torches / lights – to highlight treasure Use of musical instruments – cymbals and hand bells just above the surface of the water and plunging in to the water around the child’s body

Games Snake chasing game – one person leads holding a snake head while the others formed a line behind, while the music plays everyone follows the movements of the lead person, when the music stops the leader has to catch the tail. The lead becomes the tail and a new leader begins the game again. Arabic dancing in a circle – scarves with medals to shake – linking arms go round in one direction and then the other to create a whirlpool effect. Together make up sequence of movements using the children’s ideas, including hand movements, moving in and out, one direction or turn around.


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

Period of free time to explore further and to share ideas – try out the island Follow up: Explore Moroccan souvenirs – shoes, scarves, lantern etc Sample food and beverages from Morocco Refreshments – sweet mint tea, – exotic fruit juice – using a juicer on a switch – fruit, dates and nuts – ground cinnamon and spices – cous cous adding your own spices, lemon juice etc Postcards to send home

Future Themes: Incorporating different weather conditions big waves in a storm with the wind blowing, or the sun shining or lighting and thunder Treasure Island Story Pirates Sea life story – meeting different sea life creatures Rainbow Fish Noah’s ark Holiday theme References: Youth Sport Trust (2006) Element Resource Cards Tel: 01509 226600 Lots of ideas of water activities, including relay races and pool games

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Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

Oily Cart (2006) 25 years of discovery and delight – DVD Oily Cart (2001) Using Sound Waves – an Oily Cart Multi-Sensory Experience on CD Tel: 020 8672 6329 TFH – Special needs swim aids and equipment Davies Sports – Swimming supports and water aids Adapted Aquatics – contains lots of advice and information Kate Sullivan Support Teacher for MSI children February 08 PS There are lots of ideas here and hopefully they will spark off more ideas from you, just remember to follow the children’s’ lead and don’t try too many in one go!! And the very last point is to make sure you follow health and safety procedures while you’re having fun.

Activity Station 1: Working in twos or threes – take it in turns to be the child or the adult and support each other to experience the following range of activities. Working in threes one adult can support the child in floating. 1. Using our bodies to make sounds: Using the adult’s hands to create small splashes around the swimmer Try to create ripples and clap the water around the child - controlling the sound to get louder and quieter Assist the child to make their own sounds with their hands and feet. Moving through the water Adults moving around and past the past can create water movement Supporting the child in floating move them from side to side from the hips whilst moving backwards - swishing movement. The adult can also push the floating child forwards or pull them backwards. Try making sculling movements under or in front of the child’s body as you move backwards Moving through the water at varying speeds, sometimes fast, sometimes more slowly. Extension activities with their class - start / stop game – could use different instrument sound Moving the swimmer to the rhythm of the music


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

Activity Station 2: Working in twos or threes – take it in turns to be the child or the adult and support each other to experience the following range of activities. Working in threes one adult can support the child in floating.

2. Using resources to make sounds and sensory awareness Using the sponges or body scourers gently squeeze water onto arms and legs, encouraging the child to try for themselves and perhaps squeeze onto adult Use a small water sprayer to spray a fine mist of water over their arms, legs and eventually over their head or face again assist the child likewise. Use the sieves, jugs and bowls to sprinkling water through try and catch the light stimulation effects. Use the saucepan/large bowls to slosh water or to pour from one to another again use the lighting to maximum effect

Activity Station 3: Working in twos or threes – take it in turns to be the child or the adult and support each other to experience the following range of activities. Working in threes one adult can support the child in floating. The sensation of water moving around and over the child can provide stimulation. 3. Making waves and feeling the wind Create waves – using plastic trays Waves can be formed by one or two adults moving forwards and backwards standing against the pool wall. Enclose the child within the curtain and run water down the outside – help the child to anticipate by using ‘ready steady go..’ or ‘do you want more’ Use the clear umbrella and again run water down the outside, try spinning the clear umbrella – again help the child to anticipate Use a fan to create a breeze and ripples – can we hear the wind, see the materials move Making Bubbles Blowing bubbles – through silver hoses in the silver vase or along the child’s body Try plunging a plastic beer glass down into the water, trapping in air and then slowly turn them upwards – near the child’s body

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Trip to Morocco – Multi Sensory Experience

Activity Station 4: Working in twos or threes – take it in turns to be the child or the adult and support each other to experience the following range of activities. Working in threes one adult can support the child in floating 4. Finding souvenirs to take home (they are in small straw baskets) Collecting treasures around the pool in silver bowls: Stones Beads/gems, Snakes Novelty lights/toys Chocolate coins

Torches to highlight treasure Using the cymbal and hand bells immediately above the water surface while the child is floating – hover over their tummies to feel the vibrations. Using the hand bell near to the child and plunge it into the water around the child’s body Try relaxing and floating on the island

Games: Games Snake chasing game around the pool, following my leader with changes of leaders and directions Arabic dancing in a circle – scarves with medals to shake – try some hip and hand movements moving in and out of the circle and one way and the other Linking arms go round in one direction with children on their backs and then the other to create a whirlpool effect Camel races using the swimming toggles Period of free time to explore further and to share ideas


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

A very happy 83rd birthday to Dr Lilli Nielsen!

It is hard to believe that Dr Lilli Nielsen will be 83 years old in December. She has worked throughout the world and is seen as one of the best practitioners in the education of very special children-children with profound disability. Her visits to the Uk were breathtaking with her ability to communicate not only with the special children she worked with, on stage in front of a large audience, but her listeners too. I wrote, on behalf of Information Exchange, to see if I could contact Lilli during the summer and was delighted to receive a reply and to find that she is still as sharp and engaging as ever.

10 August 2008 Dear Flo, Thank you ever so much. I am overwhelmed, I am very pleased and I am very happy for getting Two birthday congratulation cards in one card. Since 2006 my life has been influenced by poor health conditions. However, last November I got a new medication, which slowly has improved my health. As I usually say ”There is nothing wrong with my brain, my inner organs are functioning perfectly, but only my muscles are suffering from post polio syndrome and polymyalgia Rheumatica. ‘ This means that I have an electric wheelchair in which I am moving around in my beautiful house. I have come to terms with these conditions, and I use a lot of my time to think on the experiences I had in the past in England as well as other parts of the world. I wish you and all my other friends in the UK all the best. Thank you for your faithfulness, Lilli

Lilli was born on an island in Denmark, the econd of seven children, four of whom were blind. Lilli described herself as ‘the strange sister’ because she could see. She told the story of going to start kindergarten at the age of seven, and the teacher asked her why her little brother was attached to her. Lillli explained that he was attached to her from his birth because he was blind, and he was part of her. They both started kindergarten together! Lilli has written many books and articles about working with special children and her approach of low-key intervention with exciting unusual sensory materials, is such good practise. She waits (and waits and waits and waits) for the child to respond and does not impose any pre conceptions on them. The videos made of her with Nathalie and William, show how this approach worked first time, her materials and ‘silent’ support, worked wonders. Lilli Nielsen has invented many important devices or “perceptualizing aids” for helping development and learning in children with multiple disabilities, These include: The Support Bench The Resonance Board The HOPSA-dress The Essef Board The MFA Table Velcro vest of toys The Little Room The Little Room, the concept of which is used throughout the UK, represents seven years of research. The Little Room is a 2’x3’x2’ metal frame with side panels and a Plexiglas ceiling that is placed over a special child. The child lies on their back on a Resonance Board. A variety of tactile and auditory items are suspended with cords from holes drilled in the Plexiglas ceiling. Lilli was very fond of objects with a good texture such as hair rollers and cheese graters! The side panels also have

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


A very happy 83rd birthday to Dr Lilli Nielsen! attachments that add to the sensory-rich environment. As the child moves their hands and arms, they discover, explore and sense the different sensory objects.

For a very detailed account of her life, including a huge CV, then go to and look for the very good article written by Dave DeRoche.

The Resonance Board that they lie upon acts like a drumhead, vibrating and amplifying the slightest movement or sound that is made by the child. The only noises the child hears are those they produce themselves. This empowers the child! It also lends to their comprehension of their very sensory environment.

There is also information about her products, some of which are still available.

The constancy of the resonance board and the little room gives them confidence, and over time they become the owner of their special environment becomes master of his environment. Lilli saw this as crucial in their development. Need I say more than, when she retired from the Refsnaesskolen she was knighted by the Queen of Denmark and given the Order of The Knight of Danneebrog. There have been a variety of articles about `Lilli’s work in the over the last couple of years in information Exchange. If any new readers would like these sent, then please contact me at the editors contact details. I also have copies of the videos of Lilli working in the UK, with William and Natalie made by the RNIB, which I am happy to lend. I am unaware of any source that is selling these videos at the moment. If you know, please let me know!

There have been a variety of article about Lilli’s work in the over the last couple of years in information Exchange. If any new reader would like these sent, then please contact me at the editors contact details. I also have copies of the videos of Lilli working I the UK, with William and Natalie made by the RNIB, which I am happy to lend. I am unaware of any source that is selling these videos at the moment. Here is a list of her books; unfortunately I cannot find a good source for them at the moment. However, try your public library to see if they can locate them. I am sure that most special needs sections of universities will have copies available. Space and Self Spatial Relations in Congenitally Blind Infants, Are You Blind? Educational Approaches Visual Impairment - Understanding Needs of Young Children The Comprehending Hand and Early Learning Step By Step. Functional Scheme: Final Skills Assessment The FIELA Curriculum - 730 Learning Environments

PMLD-LINK supporting people with profound and multiple learning disabilities • written by and for families, carers, practitioners and researchers • current practice, practical ideas, news and reviews, training and resources • published three times a year • subscription rates UK: individual £12, organisation - £17 (o/seas on request) Find out more…….. email your name and address to: or phone: 01275 394621


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Research Forum ... Welcome back Sue Grangers Research Column How are you feeling? Here is a run down of some interesting and thought provoking research published over the last few months... this time focusing on emotional well being. One of the most important times to be able to tell someone how you are feeling is when you are ill, or in pain. But we all know how hard it can be for those with a severe communication difficulty to let others know when they are in pain or distress, especially if they are spending time in hospital and away from family and carers. More work has been carried out recently on the effectiveness of a tool which seems to really help in these situations. It’s called the ‘Disability Distress Assessment Tool’ (DisDAT) and was developed at Northgate Hospital in Northumberland (see DisDAT is a process that helps individuals and their carers describe what signals they tend to give out to show they are in distress or pain. This can then be used to help others to correctly identify and interpret those signals if and when they happen (see to see in detail how the process works). There seems to be a strong need for this: Zwakhalen et al (2004) described just some of the difficulties nursing staff have in assessing whether a patient with learning disabilities is in pain or not. Regnald et al have been developing DisDAT and in their recent study (Regnald et al 2007) found that carers have found the tool easy to use as well as effective, with several suggesting it would have helped them in the past when they needed to advocate for an individual in a hospital setting. One of the strengths of DisDAT was cited as they way in which it can provide evidence for a carer’s intuitive feeling that their child/companion was distressed – in situations when others may not be so sure. Not surprisingly, this research also found that individuals express distress in their own unique ways, which can vary a great deal from person to person. As the DisDAT team state on their website, distress may be hidden but it is never silent (2008, Adding to this debate is recent research by Clarke et al (2008), who have stressed how important it is that medical staff listen to carers of people with severe disabilities in order to take proper care of their patient’s emotional well-being. This research has looked how parents in particular manage to identify and manage their child’s possible discomfort or pain. The results of this study have already been presented to health professionals who work with people with learning disabilities, and at various other settings. • All of which is particularly important given Symons et al (2008) recent paper describing how in the past medical professionals have in the past regularly failed to take the idea of individuals with PMLD experiencing pain seriously… • Emotional well-being does not mean being happy all the time writes Nind 2008, but it does mean feeling okay and not suffering mental distress, depression or anxiety. Emotional well-being is important to us all, and we all want it for those we care about, but there has been very little research in the past on how and whether it is achieved by individuals with PMLD. Nind 2008 writes about the importance of emotional well-being, about how it can come about by being "uniquely known, recognized, nurtured and valued" (Weare, 2004, p.25), and importantly, how she believes the use of Intensive Interaction (Nind and Hewett 1994) can help individuals with PMLD achieve it. Intensive Interaction she claims, makes people with PMLD – and their partners – feel good. And what is more important than that? References Clarke, Z, J; Thompson, A.R; Buchan, L and Combes, H. (2008). Parents’ experiences of pain and discomfort in people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, Volume 36, Issue 2, Page 84-90, Hewett, D (2007). Do touch: physical contact and people who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Support for Learning, Vol 22, No. 3, pp. 116-123(8). Nind, Melanie (2008) Promoting the emotional wellbeing of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties: a holistic approach through Intensive Interaction. In, Pawlyn, Jillian and Carnaby, Steven (eds.) Profound and Multiple Intellectual Disabilities: Nursing Complex Needs. Oxford, UK, Blackwell, 28pp. (In Press)

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Research Forum ... Nind, M and Hewett, D. (1994). Access to communication: Developing the basics of communication with people with severe learning difficulties through Intensive Interaction. David Fulton Publishers. Regnard, C; Reynolds, J; Watson, B; Matthews, D; Gibson, L and Clarke, C (2007). Understanding distress in people with severe communication difficulties: developing and assessing the Disability Distress Assessment Tool (DisDAT). J Intellect Disability Res. 51(4): 277-292. Symons, F.J; Shinde, S.K and Gilles, E. (2008). Perspectives on pain and intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Published article online: 16-Jan-2008 doi: 10.1111/j.13652788.2007.01037.x Weare, K. (2004). Developing the Emotionally Literate School. London: Paul Chapman. Zwakhalen, S. M, G; Katinka A.J; van Dongen, J;, Hamers, P.H and Huda Huijer Abu-Saad. (2004). Pain assessment in intellectually disabled people: non-verbal indicators. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 45 (3), pp 236–245.

Want to get hold of one of these articles? Try British Library Direct on their website you can buy individual articles for a small fee which they will either email to you, or send in the post. If you do not have a computer at home go to your local library (most have computers for the public to use and will help you). They may also be able to order you the article themselves on an 'Inter Library loan'. Alternatively try your local University library (if you have one!). They will often issue you a day pass into the library if you speak nicely, and advise you on how to locate the article. You can usually search their catalogue on-line to see if they have the journal before you make a wasted journey. Meanwhile if you would like to hear about research on a specific topic, or would like a paper review in depth just get in touch! Please note, this is not intended as an exhaustive, or representative review of all current literature. Nor can I vouch for the articles themselves, this is one for you to make your own mind up on Sue Granger (messages for Sue to the editor

...Reading a review of one of these articles in Information Exchange? Just let us know. If enough requests come for an article I will happily review it for you. AWARDS GALORE AT ST MARGARET’S SCHOOL Front Cover Story! The students, all of whom have profound and multiple learning difficulties, gained qualifications for modules covering a variety of areas including – The Community, Creative Arts, Leisure and the World of Work. All students in St Margaret’s Further Education classes have gained at least one qualification each this year. The modules allow each student to build an evidence-based profile of their own achievements which reflects their own needs and skills. The school selects ALL modules which will fit within its own developed and published specialist 24-hour curriculum that emphasises sensory awareness and promotes the inclusion of therapy procedures within the classroom. In addition to the achievements of St Margaret’s students being celebrated, six students from a Sussex Health Care residential home which the school provides post-19 educational outreach service to were also given their awards. Combined, over 62 qualifications were celebrated, an amazing achievement. Jan Cunningham, St Margaret’s School’s Head Teacher, said: “I am very proud of all the students’ achievements and am especially impressed with the effort that they have put in to gaining their awards this year. Well done everyone.” The Children’s Trust is a national charity based in Tadworth, Surrey, which provides care, education and therapy to children with multiple disabilities and complex health needs, and rehabilitation services to children with acquired brain injury. For further information please visit: St Margaret’s School is a purpose built, residential Non-Maintained school for children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) and complex medical needs. We have 33 residential and 11 day places for pupils aged 5-19 years.


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Electronic exchange Music and Sounds Pro Corda – The National School for Young Chamber Music Players. Pro Corda’s national programme for special educational needs is available for SEN Schools, Colleges and Units throughout the country and is the largest such programme in the UK. Participants are given the opportunity to visit the worlds of music, dance and theatre working together and taking ownership of the collective process. Coaching is in small groups by some of the country’s leading professionals. Creative skills are developed alongside social and behavioural skills.

Websites with sounds and rhymes Click on ‘songs and rhymes’ for access to more than 100 lyrics, listed according to theme. Subjects covered include the seasons, mini-beasts, action rhymes, animals, festivals, counting and food. There is also a good selection of traditional rhymes. Traditional rhymes spiced up with ‘flash’ animation, featuring the Teletubbies from the BBC’s CBeebies.

The National Association of Hospital and Home teachers website provides a number of useful model policy documents developed by Northampton HOE that includes: • A policy for the education of pupils with medical needs • PRU admissions policy • Confidentiality policy • Critical incident policy • Lone working policy

Skype If you have broadband and a webcam you can hold conversations including sign language over the internet. Skype is free software which you can download at: The quality of the picture depends on your webcam and the lighting. Gary Quinn, Deaf BSL researcher at Heriot Watt University recommends using a good quality webcam like the Philips SPC900NC because it gives a smooth picture with 90 frames per second. You can also chat using text with Skype or transfer files so it is useful for discussing work issues or for having a tutorial at a distance. You can search for other Skype users by using their email address or their Skype name. The phone calls are free, even internationally. (I have set up Skype, so anyone can do it! And am using the recommended camera above! ~ the editor)

The CALL Centre

Thanks to Mandy Williams for the link below to nursery rhymes from SCOPE Australia ~ the editor. Mandy says you can link to nursery rhyme materials through a notice on the left side of the home page of Scope, otherwise click on Communication Resource Centre on the right side of Scope home page, select Resources and Publications, scroll down to Nursery Rhymes to Sing, See and Sign.

The Communication Aids for Language and Learning centre provides specialist expertise in technology for children who have speech, communication and/or writing difficulties in schools across Scotland. The website provides access to information, guidance and resources on how ICT can make a major impact on the education of children with disabilities/special educational and communication needs. Well worth a visit.

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Electronic exchange East Midland P Scale website This web site was created as a result of a three year collaborative project to support the use of the P Scales in the East Midlands region. The project investigated practice across the region in order to develop guidance, training and support materials for schools in their use of the P Scales. This website contains a range of materials, examples of interesting practice and many useful links that will help to support the development of assessment, moderation and portfolios as part of the process of using the P Scales.

Whiteboardroom There are some remarkable websites that provide access to exciting, usable and free resources to support teaching and learning but this must be one of the best for pupils with SEN. Originally developed from an idea by Sally Pavely, it offers a wide range of Interactive Whiteboard Resources to support pupils with significant learning difficulties who are unable to access text based material. Of particular value to special schools, the resources have been teacher produced and so are practical as well as attractive and innovative.

Christmas videos Have a look at the website for some of the latest videos to do with Christmas and winter. These include the Pogues with ‘a fairy tale of New York’ and Wham with ‘last christmas’. Click into the section labelled ‘pmld’ well worth a look around at the various sections. There are some of `pete Wells excellent presentations and other practitioners have added to the site.


Can you help? An email from Marion at ‘Contact Candle’ Dear All, The Special Needs Handbook I’m emailing to introduce you to a new publication a colleague of mine, Deborah Gundle, is compiling. It is an easy to use guide book which aims to bring all the good ideas that parents and therapists have tried and tested over the years together in one publication. The idea is that carers of a disabled child who are having a difficult time over any aspect of their care can look it up in the Special Needs Handbook and find tips from other carers that have been in the same boat. This is where you come in. Can you send at least one tip (if possible the more the better…) to Please find attached a sample section of the book, this should give you some idea of how easy and quick it is to just send Deborah any solutions to problems you have overcome. Deborah will give a free copy of the book to all contributors – so be sure not to forget to give her your name and address along with the tip or tips you send in. All the best, Marion And attached are some ideas that will be in the sleep section zzzzz Sample Section Sleep/Night Time • Massage • Aromatherapy • Classical Music • Routine • Book Tapes • Colour therapy in bedroom • Baby Rocker • Maternity Rocking Chair – for older children • Baby’s button in sleep bag – Merino Kids Go Go Bag • Full body UV protection swim suit tight fitting • Sheets and Blanket tuck in firm and tight (for some children only) • Textured sheets • Special Bed • Melatonin • Room alarms • CCTV camera • Parental turns in staying up (so at least one parent

gets a full nights sleep) • Bean Bag (vibrating bean bag) • Brushing (using specialist brush ask OT) • Dimly lit lights i.e. Christmas lights • Glow stars • Humming womb type music

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

The disappearing monkeys

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


The disappearing monkeys


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

The disappearing monkeys

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


The disappearing monkeys


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

The disappearing monkeys

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


The disappearing monkeys


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

The disappearing monkeys

Issue 75/76 Winter 2008


The disappearing monkeys


Issue 75/76 Winter 2008

Workshops – Courses Strategies to identify and teach children with impairment of vision due to damage to the brain Friday, 20 March 2009 – Liverpool

All Aboard: How teaching assistants can promote the learning and participation of blind and partially sighted children Thursday, 5 February 2009 – Leeds Description Teaching assistants (TAs) play a key role in ensuring that children with visual impairment are fully included in the educational and social life of their school or setting. This event provides an important opportunity to learn more about the wide range of skills and understanding involved in this work. They will include a mixture of plenary presentations on issues of common interest and informal workshops to explore specialist topics. All Aboard: Special

This one-day course will be divided into three components: • The structure and function of the visual system • How disorders of the visual system impair vision • Strategies to ensure that these children are not socially or educationally disadvantaged Tel: 0121 665 4235 Email:

Stop Press! Les Staves and Flo Longhorn are doing a two-day epic Master Class in London

Date: 5 February 2009 Location: Leeds This day will consider the particular issues facing TAs supporting children with little or no sight and additional needs. Key sessions will include: • What makes an effective classroom? (Kay Wrench, Oldham Team for Visual and Physical Impairment) • Working with physiotherapists. (Kathy Haigh, paediatric physiotherapist) • Functional vision assessment. (Catherine Southwell, Wolverhampton Sensory Inclusion Service) Tel: 0121 665 4235 Email:

Description Visual difficulties due to brain damage in children can present in many different ways, both obvious and obscure. These visual difficulties need to be identified and measured. Most importantly a comprehensive programme of intervention must be developed to circumvent these difficulties.

4 & 5 December 2008 The venue is situated just behind Kings Cross station, along the banks of the Regent canal. It is all on the earliest levels of Numeracy and Literacy and the title is:

'Emergent literacy and Numeracy for learners with severe/profound learning difficulties or significant autism' In other words ~ very special learners~ Further details from Pat at Or leave a message on 0845 127 528

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Sensabout – written by Sally Slater Exciting new resources Once upon a time there was an organisation called the Inner London Education Authority who produced some really good multi-sensory resources for children with special needs, but ILEA disbanded in the early eighties. They produced a lovely space journey pack called ‘Galaxies’, using a cassette tape (remember those!) of music and sounds, and photo slides of space images to provide a visual focus of the ‘journey’. We all enjoyed collecting the props of umbrellas and water sprays, and making some like the blue tailed bee and stripy serpent. The children loved it – landing on the bouncy rubber planet was great fun, the staff loved it, and I used it for many years with many different groups of people, children and adults. I and many others copied the tapes to try to make it last and bought slides from planetariums to try to recreate such a lovely multi-sensory experience. The resource suppliers and makers began to get somewhat sidetracked by ‘The Curriculum’ and couldn’t or didn’t invest in the cost of creating something different and unable to be categorized, and the rest is history, so they say. We have had nothing equivalent since. This is where Sensabout comes in. I have long harboured a wish to have available more multi-sensory resources such as ‘Galaxies’ to give fun experiences to people who best engage and learn in a sensory way, and in the end decided to write them and produce them myself! This wish was aided by an old friend of mine, Liz, moving up to Cheshire who worked as a teacher of multi-sensory impaired children, and who was willing to help with the writing, and a friend Sue who was a folk singer and wrote tunes. We chose shapes as our first topic. I had in mind when planning it, a young person with PMLD aged about 13 who had perhaps ‘done’ shapes a dozen times and was bored rigid by it. I was also thinking about adults who sit in front of the TV hours at a time. Wouldn’t it be great to provide something more entertaining and able to be accessed by people of all different ages? ‘Circles at the Fairground’ was born. It has been an amazing collaborative effort with our families and friends and neighbours. Many people were happy to help, including Danny at the pleasure beach in Southport who shut down his ghost train and proudly walked us through, tripping all the ‘ghosts’ so we could take pictures! I think all that fun and enthusiasm shows through sensabout. We are getting a little bit more sophisticated with our songs as we go, but that positivism still shines on. We had as much fun putting number 5 together as with all the rest.


We decided from the outset to try and make a complete but varied range of songs that were not childish. So we put in a food song, a rap, as well as slow and fast ones. Our second pack is called ‘Triangles on the Journey’ and looks at the triangle in different environments on a journey including a church and a forest. My daughter Helen used this for her dissertation at university on measuring levels of external engagement. ‘Triangles’ proved to be statistically significant when used with props to promote external engagement in a group of teenagers with PMLD. The third pack is ‘Stars at the Harbour’ and we see and hear about many stars on a beach and marina, starfish, stars on flags and firework stars. Our favourite song is ‘The Beach’. Finally in the shapes set, we took the weekend as our focus and found all the different activities that utilize squares, including karting and shopping, and ‘Squares at the Weekend’ was launched. People use them in many ways, and we have tried to make it as flexible as possible. You can gather a few props, put on the DVD and let it run – the songs last 30 minutes or so. Or you can take a single song and build activities around it. A friend took the food song from ‘Triangles’ and it provided the basis for all her sessions for a week. The photos provide a visual backdrop and change every 30 seconds to allow people to focus on them if able. They look great on a large screen. Our latest venture is called ‘Colours’. We love it! We took 6 different colours and black and white, and used each colour as a mini theme. Next to come will be ‘Senses’, then ‘Electricity’ and ‘Materials’. Then we’ll see! For more details and an order form please see our website at or phone 07711374927. Our photos show some young people from Fox Wood School having great fun with various songs.

Dan and the flowers

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Raj and the necklace

Gareth and the pine cone

A Sensory Walk This is a very different walk than usual. The walkers will need to take their shoes and socks off, as it is a very tactile journey.

A wintry reminder of Christmas

Falling Snow ( By Anonymous)

You will need to prepare A selection of different sized trays that will hold a foot or two feet together, cake trays are ideal, and these are the stepping-stones for the walk. A selection of different tactile materials such as • Bird seed • Egg shells • Rice • Smooth stones • Oatmeal (cooked, sticky and warm!) • Sea shells • Cold ice cubes • Sand • Dried leaves • Lavender • Rose water and petals • A warm hot water bottle

See the pretty snowflakes Falling from the sky; On the wall and housetops Soft and thick they lie. On the window ledges, On the branches bare; Now how fast they gather, Filling all the air. Look into the garden, Where the grass was green; Covered by the snowflakes, Not a blade is seen. Now the bare black bushes All look soft and white, Every twig is laden, What a pretty sight!

Place each tactile material in an individual tray Make a line or curve of the trays and go on a walk • Set off on a very tactile journey through the stepping stones • Feel the different sensations • See which stepping-stone is a favourite experience • Smell the aroma of oatmeal or rosewater as feet squish squosh through a tray • Change the story by moving the trays; make it a shorter journey by leaving some stepping-stones out. • Add an electric fan to blow over the trays so the walk becomes a windy one • Place a bridge over a stepping stone • Turn the lights out and use a torch to find a way along the stepping stones • Use a digital camera to record the journey of a ‘toe’ time!

Have a sensory walk with this red messy play jelly. It is on sale at GALT. The water changes to jelly and there is 1 kg of jelly former plus 500grams of dissolvent. It is safe and easy to use and such good value. Reduced from £19 to £10 Quote code GSale8 when ordering at or 08451 20 30 05

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Funsheet number - 8. Cheap ideas Fun

Blast Torches ter work underwater w

Droplit changes es Colour and is great quality

Great visual stimulation with wind. These fans are available from shops like Au Natural.

Fibre optic torches ch hes es sory still great sensory

ÂŁ or $ shops

Soft squidgy tactile ile

G Glo Balls! use more than one for Colour t matching m

Light up glasses, great for eye contact

Hologram Hol Mater Material great for visual stim stimulation

Giant Light spinner from a toy store

Information Exchange - Winter 2008  

Information Exchange magazine - Double Issue 75-76 - Winter 2008

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