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Issue 77 Spring 2009

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

Information Exchange is compiled with help from many corners of the world - ideas written and spoken, ideas seen and experiences shared. It is fully independent and the Editorial Team work hard on a voluntary basis to bring out the magazine - three times a year. There are also unseen supporters of the magazine who help in many ways. Information Exchange has a buzz that is fostered when

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

Information Exchange is for everyone - family members, parents, carers, educators, therapists or anyone who needs to find out more or gain confidence from others by reading, challenging and discussing. In this inclusive way, everyone is learning and growing together through the medium of the magazine.

Contents Editors page Sensory gardens with a difference Pop of the pop-pop-pops New Life by Anne Krisman How much is that doggie in the window Making a Homemade Book ‘Sensabout’ multisensory dramas Writing – making a mark on the world Information Exchange – Pullout Supplement Symbols for the Sensory Studio or Multisensory Environments Rag Bag To Buy Rag Bag To Make Water is for everyone! Teenage Chillout Wellsy’s Bag of Bugs Smelly tasty beers Electronic Exchange Hello from Lilli How to empty bubble tubes News from the RNIB Loving Memories of Hector Book Reviews

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

Front and back covers Dan from Foxwood School, enjoys the sensory activities during sensabout experiences.

£350.00 £250.00 £150.00 £75.00

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


Issue 77 Spring 2009

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Editorial Editorial

The Information Exchange Editorial Team Flo Longhorn:

Dear readers, A bright start to spring can be seen in this new edition of Information Exchange with Anne Krisman giving a fresh look at the spiritual significance of Spring and new life. There is also an interesting pullout section on sensory symbols for use in a multisensory room, space or studio written by Mike Ayres. He welcomes any feedback on this interesting work. And on this topic – If your school, place or work (or even home for some readers) would like to offer a pullout section for the middle of the magazine, then just contact me and I will see what can be done. Sadly, I heard recently of the death of Hector, a child very well known to readers of the magazine and also those who live in the Bristol area. I hope that the photos, taken from past editions, give a warm remembrance to everyone of a very special sparkling child – and to his family as well. Best sensory wishes. Flo Keep sending in your ideas and articles please!

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 Oxford 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

A beautiful photograph of an orchid, signs of the summer ahead – sent in by Les Staves – thank you Les.

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

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

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Spring is here – Sensory gardens with a difference Audrey Forbes sent along some unusual sensory garden photos and ideas to share for readers. Usually sensory gardens are full of very lovely flower or herb beds, expensive equipment. Sometimes they look like they should be in a ‘home and gardens’ magazine. Audrey has set up her unique sensory garden to meet the actual requirements of her special gardeners, especially those who cannot see too well. It looks a little different and changes with the seasons – what do you think? ‘I have a large-ish garden outside my classroom and really wanted to develop it further. The sun streams down and its a bit of a problem for the children with visual impairment so I wanted a cover to diffuse the strong sunlight. I used the same idea as in my sensory dramas. First I put up a net then covered it with cheap Ikea curtains and other pieces of large cloth I found around school. That was my base. I tied net to trees and resorted to using drainpipe brackets to hold the

net up! Everything was held up using household pegs so it would be easy to move, put up and take down. The local Bristol Scrap Store was brilliant for collecting all sorts of materials and I used quite a few things from there. I put up bamboo and twinkly chimes, arranged foil into curtains that made swishing sounds when moved and filled empty tonic bottles with water and glitter. There are windmills and threaded c.d.'s as well.

The children have had a great time outside, enjoyed being placed on the grass and have also had trays with large pebbles, compost, shells and straw to feel too. We always go outside if its fine now and I think I'm going to leave it up for the winter and change hanging objects for more 'wintry' ones. We could have play in the snow!!

Thanks a million Audrey!


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Pop of the pop-pop-pops! Bubble wrap news One of the satisfactions in life is the joy of popping bubbles in a sheet of bubble wrap. Sometime it can be used as a ‘wind down’ activity for an active youngster-the activity really does give a feeling of slowing down through an enjoyable, very sensory activity. Now Japan has been swept by a craze for an electronic toy that recreates the simple thrill of popping bubbles. It is called ‘the eternal PoppetyPop’ and is a key ring sized game that allows the user to pop plastic bubbles which are immediately and endlessly replenished. The Japanese see it as a diversion from boredom and an antidote for stress. The game costs about £4 and consists of a small pad with 10 simulated bubbles powered by a tiny battery. When the bubbles are squeezed a simulated ‘pop’ noise is heard. After 100 pops then a random sound is generated such as a raspberry or klaxon. It looks like these little gadgets will reach the UK later this year-watch this space for first sightings! And here is the crazy bubble buster, discovered in the local Pound stretcher shop for the princely sum of one pound. Lots of fun and a super relax twiddler! After 50 pops, a little squeaky noise plays gaily. Have a look in your local cheap shop and see if they have arrived there too. They can also be bought from Hawkins Bazaar but at £4.99 ( 0844 573 4000)

Here is a use for bubble wrap for a special learner called Sam (named changed) who was obsessed with popping bubble wrap, to the exclusion of everything else. He popped bubble wrap at home and school. School banned bubble wrap and he developed a wonderful range of behaviours to show his displeasure at this ruling. His mum decided to continue with the popping for the sake of peace and quiet! So, it was decided to see if his curriculum could be based on the fundamental happiness, seen in popping the curriculum Small objects were inserted into each bubble in the wrap. These included beads buttons, sequins and rice. A slit was made in the back of the bubble, a little bead or small object placed in the bubble and then sellotape closed the slit. When Sam was busy popping bubbles he reached one that popped out an interesting object. This delayed him going onto the next bubble and he would sort the little items into piles. His teacher was delighted to include this in his numeracy achievements! He was also very fond of Madonna, the pop star, and a very patient classroom assistant cut a poster into bubble size bits, inserted reach piece into a bubble until the whole poster was inside the wrap. Sam was so delighted that he did not pop the bubble wrap but read the image with much attention and delight. Bubble wrap can also be made into a beautiful personalised reading book. Here (found in the photograph archive at Information Exchange) is a picture of Roma Lear (author of lots of good books on making special toys) reading a book made of bubble wrap sleeves. Roma is still busy making toys and providing special items for special children. She is an inspiration to everyone!

A bubble wrap painting with jewel like images.

The cover is made of material and the pages are bubble wrap sleeves filled with an interesting material such as buttons, feathers or pasta. When the page is turned, it rustles to alert the reader and then each page can be jiggled or moved to make very interesting moving touchable pages.

Issue 77 Spring 2009


New Life by Anne Krisman Spring is here, there’s a joy about the world and it’s time to think about new life. The coldness and dark of winter can be symbolically put away by pupils packing gloves, hats and scarves into a box and waving goodbye to it until the season comes around again. Flowers, whether real or artificial, can give a cheerful new feeling to the room and the sense that something different is happening. There’s nothing better than bringing spring flowers into the classroom, to look at, smell and touch. The classroom can be given the scent of flowers through using a burner with essences. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons provides an uplifting background. For art work, spring flowers can be made from ready cut up tissue yellow or blue paper petals collaged or scattered onto paper. These can be presented to favourite adults to see their reaction. A bright yellow piece of cloth can be billowed around the room to show the happiness of the seasons changing.

For the Christian celebration of Easter, children can go on a journey around their school grounds to find places to put a crucifix of Jesus. Photographs can be taken as they go. Some children put him among the daffodils, others find him a place in the sensory garden. It’s a way of linking Jesus with the new life of Spring. Cards can be made with crosses and put into a corner of the room made into a peaceful place to remember Jesus. Children can take turns to put flowers into the peaceful place so they can help create it. A stencil of a cross can be stuck onto a piece of white paper and children can paint or crayon over it with yellow or orange, with added glitter, to give a sense of the wonder that Christians feel at Jesus’ resurrection. Pupils can experience being covered by a black cloth and then uncovered as everyone shouts, “Christ is arisen” as believers would do in a Greek Orthodox church (christos anesti!) or bangs on an instrument. For Science, children can try dyeing hard boiled eggs red with food dye, as is customary in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Some may like to crack the eggs together afterwards – it’s fun!


Issue 77 Spring 2009

New Life Children can have an Easter egg hunt in the classroom with small pictures of Easter eggs stuck onto wheelchairs, tables, walls, doors. How many pictures can the class find? This also can be done with symbols of Easter, such as lambs, daffodils, baby chicks, bunnies, bonnets and hot cross buns. Spring is an important time for our special pupils and people who work with them. The themes of Easter, hope, transformation and love, link with all our lives. We all remember the small steps of progress our pupils have made over the years, and the impact they have on our lives. Let’s celebrate the changes in the world around us that reflect these messages.

A bright start to Spring – thank you Anna

New life – New baby Congratulations to Sheree Vickers Sheree has written lots of articles for information Exchange, including the excellent article seen in the last issue-the disappearing monkeys. She has a new baby girl who was born on 27 December and is named Georgia. Congratulations to Sheree and here is a picture of mum and Georgia.

Who am I?

She wore her yellow sunbonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: "Winter is dead." A A Milne

And the star of the production! Georgia!

Issue 77 Spring 2009


How much is that doggie in the window? Multisensory Paradise – Flo Longhorn Recently I paid a visit to the local retail park and discovered a store called 'Pets at Home'. It is similar to pet stores found all over the country. Once inside, I discovered an amazing selection of toys and equipment for dogs and cats, to make the eyes boggle. They were highly visual, interesting textures, different shapes and of great interest to everyone in the storeno dogs or cats to be seen! The manager of the store kindly allowed me to play with the toys and Mandy Williams (all the way from Australia) was allowed to take photos.

The honking pig This grey squeezy pig comes in two sizes and when squeezed emits a loud pig honk that certain catches the attention. Buy three and do the story of the three little pigs!

Many of the toys were designed in France and were very chic, attractive and well designed. The designers had done their research homework on the early development of babies. This is why the materials were ideal for sensory children as well! The prices were all under a fiver; many in the two to three pound range. Do go and explore your local pet shop for fresh materials and new sparkly ideas. Here are a few of the toys we saw and thought that they could provide sensory ideas for use with children.

The cosy calming mat

A little blue mouse This cute little mechanical mouse moves smoothly across any surface and is lots of fun to visually track and then reach out and grab.

This is a cosy calming mat for a cat. The design is bright, patterned and colourful and has a lovely velvet texture. There are tassels to play with and there is a beanie grainy feel to the inside contents of the mat. The pillow can be warmed in the microwave so it can offer a new dimension of warm touch and could be chilled in the fridge for a very different contrast. As a reading book it has emergent reading with good visual images of lines and dots.


Issue 77 Spring 2009

How much is that doggie in the window? The scrunchy dragon

A pink flowery dangler

This is an unusual idea that is really effective. It is a dragon that has a hidden secret. It is filled with an empty plastic water bottle that can be squeezed and scrunched to make a good racket. When the bottle has lost its crackle, it can be renewed with a new bottle. It is an opportunity to 'seek and find' and also see an article disappear from view-but the crackle gives a clue that; actually, it is still there.

– for cats and also for those learning to 'look and attend' – it is perfect for tracking, reaching out and grasping – or use as a fun puppet!

Dog balls of all shapes and sizes

And finally, a cat action toy that cannot be knocked over. This would be great to place on a tray or table and for a youngster with a broad sweep of the arms, to knock it over -and watch as it rights itself with out a problem.

You can find all sort of different dog balls including this blue one which is perfect for practising grasp and release. The holes are so handy for fingers to slip in and hold with success. And here are balls with strong textures to explore – a grown up rattle for older children

The editor in paradise

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Making a Homemade Book This is an easy homemade book to make for a child who has just started to regard the world around. The child will be looking for sharp contrasts so silvery, glittery materials will be very attractive to view. They will also like the idea of a very short simple story that can be read hundreds of times. They may also like to reach and touch the different textures in the book, you can see some in the illustrations. Best of all, the book can be read with a torch in a darkened space or at bedtime. The torch will illuminate the glitter and sparkle really well, helping the child to maintain interest. You will need: • An idea for a short story (use the one below to start you off) • Squares of glittery materials~the size will depend on the reader, for example, a smallish book for the reader who needs to see everything at a very close distance. • Some net, fluorescence is best • Some little mice, find these in the pet shop! • Needle and thread or a sewing machine Now: • Put the pages in the order of the story. • Attach a mouse and the net nest to the front cover, stitch firmly. • Place the other mouse on the page you wish and sew on firmly. • Now gather the pages in order and sew across the top, by hand or machine. Make sure it is firmly sewn so it will last a long time. And here is the simple story of the mouse who lived in a silver book.

Inside her nest, she had many beautiful sequinned shiny dresses.

Her favourite dress was a shiny dress covered in silver, black and white sequins.

The mouse had a favourite friend who liked to visit. The white mouse loved to see her pink sparkly dress. She liked it best of all.

The mouse in a silver nest Once upon a time, there was a little yellow mouse who lived in a pink nest – inside a silver book.

The mice liked to wear their dresses to….....… YOU make up the rest of the story!


Issue 77 Spring 2009

‘Sensabout’ multisensory dramas Sally Slater has sent some lovely photographs, of a group of youngsters at Foxwood School, enjoying some of the props from the 'Sensabout' series. They are using a variety of multisensory props found in some of the stories.

And now Raj uses his nose to discover the smell of pine

Raj explores a beautiful string of pearls

You can find out more about the series at or phone 07711 374927. The next publications in the 'Sensabout series' are 'senses' ‘electricity' and 'materials' – out soon, watch this space! Now he finds a mysterious object in a small box, I wonder what it can be?

Dan encounters an alarming spider!

Issue 77 Spring 2009


‘Sensabout’ multisensory dramas Mia explores a beautiful seashell from under the sea

And Mia is very aware of a very large square shape balanced on her knees! (These blow-up shapes can be found on the tesco website – the editor)

And where is Nicholas? Captured under a spiders web…. Finally Gareth makes some good noises with his shaker

For details of all the 'Sensabout' series go to or call 07711 374927


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Writing – making a mark on the world! What is writing? Writing is an action of communication. It affects us all in our daily routines-from reading a copy of the ‘Beano’ to finding the toilets in a café. The messages can come in a variety of different ways from flashing neon lights to a scrawl in the sand on the beach. Very special writers can also access writing as a form of communication. For example, they can do this through transactional writing such as sequencing their tactile calendar each day or using electronic mail to send photographic images.

What are the first steps in writing? The very first steps in writing are called mark making and are very unintentional. These marks can be as simple as

• Trailing fingers through soapy water • A finger dipped in a jar of honey • A stick dragged through dirt • A hand banged on a floury tray

A loud bang on the table with a fist or a hammer is a very clear mark of intent!

’I am here!’

Case study-signatures Susan, the art teacher, had a group of very special teenagers who were learning that a mark could claim ownership of what they had made or wanteda signature on a painting or making a snack choice, for example. She worked with a range of mark making media, helping each student to make and own their own mark. Each student was enabled to select their favourite mark and the mark example was taken to a rubber stamp manufacturer. He reproduced the mark on a palm-sized stamp, which was held in the palm of the hand with a Velcro strap. Students could bang and make their mark or bang their comment as they wished.

When the writer realises that they have made a mark then the mark becomes intentional – a deliberate mark made as a form of communication or expression. These early mark making stages form the most important writing platform for very special learners. They need to make a strong mark on their environment such as indicating an object they desire, pointing to a favourite person, moving a torchlight in a dark room or choosing an activity via an object of reference. Making such a mark is of no consequence unless those who surround the person respond to the marks.

The signatures were used in a variety of ways, making a choice on a fast food menu, signing in for work experience or signing a birthday card. One dad came in one day and told everyone how his special son could now sign a cheque at the bankthe bank had accepted his stamp mark and he could draw money from his own account – to spend as he chose.

What is emergent writing? Emergent writing covers these early mark-making activities. These marks fit into early developmental patterns which link closely to the development of hand/eye movements for example. We begin to make marks on the environment by using hands and feet to explore- scratch- stroke- poke- pluck- squeezepat and bang! These are the early hand skills needed to eventually hold a pencil.

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Writing – making a mark on the world! Developing mark making For very special writers please put away the pens and paper and introduce exciting multisensory ways of making marks on the world! Here are some tasty and smelly ones to try:

And finally, here is a mark making activity for trendy students.

Food writing • Try alphabet soup and shaped macaroni- finding hidden messages!

• Use ‘cheese strings’ to write wriggly marks on a slice of bread

• Use an icing bag and different nozzles to write names and make marks

Making a mark on a ‘t’ shirt

• Try mark making with tomato concentrate on a pizza base • Freeze ice cubes in novelty ice trays-pigs hearts circles-melting symbols! • A plate of coloured (food colouring) cooked spaghetti to make endless lines • Mark an iced cake with silver balls, sprinkles and sweeties

Make some earthy inks • Take a carrot and a beetroot • Chop and crush finely each one- separately • Place each separately in its own pan, cover with water leaving overnight • Next day add 2 cups of water to each pan • Simmer for an hour • Cool and strain through a piece of muslin, collecting the fruity ink • Discover the colours and smells of mark making with your own earthy ink! • Try some other fruits or vegetables for different colours and smelly marks

Dylon produce a paste product called ‘Image maker’. You could use it to transfer photocopies of marks made by a very special writer on to fabric such as a ‘t’ shirt. Take a photocopy of the marks, place print side up on silver foil and spread the paste evenly. The copy is then placed wet side down on the ‘t’ shirt and rolled with a rolling pin. Once dry, the paper is lifted and the image revealed. The marks are then sealed and the ‘t’ shirt ready to wear (it is washable). Very trendy mark making! Flo Longhorn Consultant in Special Education April 2008 Useful books: • ‘Writing for all’ Sylvia Edwards (1999) David Fulton Publishers

• ‘Communications with pictures and symbols’ (2003) CALL centre at

• ‘Assessing young children’s writing’ Tom Gorman, Greg Brooks (1996) Basic Skills Agency

Messy mark making Make marks • In a bowl of soggy cornflakes • Across a tray of lumpy warm porridge • Through wet or dry icing sugar • Slurp fingers through molasses and dribble marks onto a plate • Rub at Vaseline or Vick for strong smelly marks • Squirt toothpaste into wavy marks • Squish and squeeze jelly into interesting wobbly marks


• ‘Literacy for very special people’ Flo Longhorn (2001)

Issue 77 Spring 2009

Information Exchange Pullout Supplement

Symbols for the Sensory Studio or Multisensory Environments Contributed by Mike Ayres

Symbols for Sensory Work – Mike Ayres C

Bubble Tube


Data Projector

Mirror Ball


Fibre-optic Lights

Infinity Panel

Infinity Hut

Sound-light Floor

Tactile Panel


Voice Distortion Unit

Tel: +44 (0)1359 251551 - Fax: +44 (0)1359 251707 -

Mike Ayres Design Shepherds Grove Stanton Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP31 2AR

Š Copyright Mike Ayres, Mike Ayres Design - January 2007 Free for direct use for teaching, communication and sensory work. Commercial companies and other organisations must seek the explicit written permission of the originator.


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Symbols for Sensory Work – Mike Ayres C


L.E.D. Lights

UV Blacklight

Sound-light Screen






This range of Symbols is designed to help with visual communication for sensory work. They are not a definitive range and can be changed and added to, to suit individual needs. Mike Ayres welcomes your constructive comments and will continue to refine them on the basis of your responses. The two line thicknesses used, define the object (thick) and the effects created (thin). This was done to give a clearer graphic image. The typeface ‘Sassoon’ is used for the text because it was specifically developed for primary reading and writing skills and is recommended for use by people with Dyslexia.

Tel: +44 (0)1359 251551 - Fax: +44 (0)1359 251707 - © Copyright Mike Ayres, Mike Ayres Design - January 2007 Free for direct use for teaching, communication and sensory work. Commercial companies and other organisations must seek the explicit written permission of the originator.

Issue 77 Spring 2009

Mike Ayres Design Shepherds Grove Stanton Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP31 2AR


Symbols for Sensory Work – Mike Ayres One of the significant uses of any sensory room or studio, is to encourage and enable communication. So it surprises me that after 15 years of development of the sensory concepts, that there was no comprehensive range of symbols to enable people to express and build a language for the equipment, effects and experiences to be found within such an environment. There are commonly used symbols for ‘the sensory room’ and for ‘bubble tubes’, and many people create their own photographic images for picture reference communication. However, there are no symbols for individual equipment. Mike Ayres has therefore created a range of symbols. They are by no means definitive, but they can be changed and built upon to suit your individual needs. The symbols are created to be as basic but descriptive of the object as possible, and there are up to four main elements to each of the images, which are consistent throughout the range. The actual object is in bold lines of a clear shape. The action of the object is drawn in thin lines, ie. Rays of light, sound, vibration etc. The form of any projected image is identified with a shape and infill of thin parallel lines (this creates a half–tone, or grey effect for most people). The word that accompanies each symbol is printed in the “Sassoon” type face which was developed specifically for primary reading and writing skills and is recommended for use by people with Dyslexia. Unless there are strong views to the contrary I will continue to build the range on this consistent principle. I have been asked if colour versions of the symbols are available; not at this time, but they may be developed in the future. The symbols were presented to a number of communication specialists, speech and language therapists, and teachers for their comments. The responses varied from very detailed criticism about each aspect of individual symbols to a blanket acceptance and delight that at last there was something available. The one thing that was consistant was that almost every critique was inconsistent. I therefore sifted out some particularly relevant points and adjusted the images to accommodate these. As stated earlier, they are not definitive in the actual images or the range so any constructive comments or suggestions for the additional symbols are very welcome. The symbols are the copyright of Mike Ayres (January 2007), but are free for direct use for teaching, communication and sensory work. Commercial companies and other organisations must acquire the explicit written permission of Mike Ayres to use or reproduce the images in any form.

Mike can be contacted through his very sensory website


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Rag Bag To Buy New lines found in Hawkins Bazaar or call 0844 573 4000 or visit one of their shops, found all over the country

Squishy mesh ball A gel-filled ball covered by black netting. As the ball is squeezed, coloured beads grow through the net and change shape, as they get bigger. So tactile and such a fascination to manipulate and watch £1.99

Disco Glide ball An excellent blackball that glides along the table or floor. If it is tapped then the internal lights pulsate madly and these illuminate the coloured spots. It flashes even more just before stopping. A real whiz of a light, super for a dark room. £2.50

Fright light

A similar tactile experience is felt in this galactic ball. It feels much harder but when it is squeezed lights flash through the coloured sections. Really good in the dark. £3.99

Sound asleep pillow This pillow is excellent for the child or teenager, who wants to listen to their own selection of music, but the rest of the group do not want to hear it! The special pillow has built in speakers and connects to any music source such as an Ipod, mp3 player, or CD player. £19.99

Really good sound torch that has loud vibratory noises (try next to an ear). There are a variety of sound such as thunderstorm, an evil laugh and spooky doors opening. Great for a spooky story-try it with 'once there was a dark dark moor..' £9.99

Starlites Old favourites much loved by special children for their twinkle and gorgeous special effect. They come in two versions, one a cascade of colour and the ice starlite, which looks like crystal and has an icy cold blue glow. £4.99

(Note from the editor – I have one and listen to audio stories late into the night-and no one knows….)

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Rag Bag To Buy Keep an eye out for cheap little led lights on sale in the shops at the moment. They can be used inside a shoebox story to illuminate the content; you can count the birds (from IKEA) or enjoy discovering one hidden under ac??????

'Information sent in by Sally Silverman

Foot Warmers These soft fleece foot warmers with toggle fastenings help children with poor circulation and are cosy and warm for others too. Easy to put on as the toggle adjustment gives ample room for ankles and makes them difficult to remove. Available in four colours: brown, white, navy and pink from Priced from £12.00 to £15.00 + post and packing for sizes 23 – 39. Larger sizes too.

Activity A-Frame An excellent piece of equipment for children just starting to walk and balance. Available from GALT

We need your ideas and articles!

Tel: 08451 20 30 05 Fax: 08000 56 03 14

Send to the editor!


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Rag Bag To Make Time to go outdoors and transform old white sheets into outside works of art You will need: • Old white or pastel colour sheet • Tempera paints • Large paint brushes or paint rollers • Squishy sponges • Squirt bottles • A hose pipe (to clean up and also to re-use the sheet)

How to paint a masterpiece: • Soak the sheet in water and then hang it on a clothesline or drape it over a fence • Put out a variety of coloured tempera paints and applicators -sponges, paintbrushes, squirt bottles, rollers • Paint the big sheet canvas as a group • Wheel chair users can make an attack with a mop head or broom soaked in paint for a dramatic paint! • You can also lighten and mix colours with waterfilled sprayers • If you want to paint another scene, simply hose down the sheet canvas and start all over again

Fishy Story Boxes Three fishy story boxes made out of shoe boxes and a bit of imagination – found in the Information Exchange Archives:

Oil, Water and Food Colouring in a Snaplock Bag on a Lightbox:

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Rag Bag To Make Sent in by Sally Silverman, Information Exchange roving reporter – thanks Sally! Some Ideas for Students in Class 10 at Claremont Secondary School, in Bristol, to use for Sensory Leisure Time. Exploring Water is for all ages! The magic disco ball This is a disco ball, which floats on top of water. There is a choice of five different light shows. Here it is floating in a silver bowl (from Ranjanees) to enhance the effect.

The disco ball comes from Hawkins Bazaar at £7.99 or 'Main Sauce productions' Main Sauce Productions 3 Princes Street Mayfair London W1B 2LD. Tel: 0207 629 0331

It is very effective if students have a standing frame, with a bowl insert in the tray, put the silver bowl inside that. It is great to focus down on the shimmery water effect. Try using a transparent container with the disco ball, when students are in a side lyer or over a wedge. Here are some other ideas to use the disco ball. It makes a refreshing change from flat screen images all the time and can be held safely. Try it • Out of water • Try placing it on a white tea towel or white paper • Project against a white wall or ceiling • Try inside a projection brolly • Use netting for a 3D effect


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Teenage Chillout Recycling junk – simple science experiments

To make Discovery Bottles:

• Fill a bottle with rice and small objects such as dice, small toys from crackers or old pieces of junk jewellery • Superglue the top on the bottle to prevent spillage • Roll the bottle and see if different objects come to the surface for discovery

You will need: • A pile of plastic clear bottles of various sizes from the recycling collection • Different coloured food colourings • Water • Sand, rice, pasta…….. • Bits and pieces such as glitter sequins polystyrene bits rice coloured sand • Syrup or a heavy clear oil • Super glue

To make a Desert Mystery Bottle:

• Fill a plastic bottle with fine dry white sand and a few tiny parcels (the treasure) or a tiny skeleton! • Superglue the lid on the bottle for safety • Now shake, roll, and bang the sand bottle to see if a mysterious parcel pops out of the sand or even a skeleton…………ooooooooh!

To make Lava Bottles:

• Fill a small plastic drinks bottle with half water and colour with food colouring • Fill the other half with baby oil. • Superglue the lid on the bottle to prevent spillage. • the bottle and see what happens. The bottle should produce a lava lamp effect when tilted.

For extra interest and to extend the junk experiments then:

• Try shining a torch on the bottles • Place the bottle on the window sill in the sunshine • See what happens when they are submerged in water

• Use oil instead of syrup for a different result

To make Snow Globes:

• Half fill a bottle with water and half with syrup • Add glitter, beads, sequins or glass 'diamonds' • Superglue the lid on to the bottle for safe handling • Now shake, roll or tap the bottle ~ the syrup should make the glitter fall slowly for dazzling effects Taken from SLD Forum – Thanks Pete! “Hello lovely people! I simply MUST recommend the very wonderful ! It’s a lovely site where you get to make and adopt a really cool little monster. Once you have your little critter you have to feed it, tickle it and play loads of cool little educational games which earn you Rox (Moshi Monster currency) that you can spend in the shops of Monstro-City. Shops include clothes shops, the gross-ery store where you buy food, decorating shops such as Yuckea where you buy wallpaper and the like to decorate your house as well as posh shops such as Horrods. It’s a BRILLIANT site which kids absolutely love! A great part of it is that you can keep in touch with other monsters by leaving them messages on the message board in their house. Apparently this has made it the number one social networking site for pre-teens. I think the site would work superbly in an SEN setting. Each class could have their own monster which they have to look after. As part of your daily ritual you could get the kids to feed it and maybe do a puzzle or two before checking the progress of the other classes’ monsters – leaving a nice message or two. Some of the games you play to earn Rox are more than appropriate in the SEN classroom (simple literacy and numeracy, colour matching, telling the time etc.) so with a bit of guidance from the teacher this can become a really valid exercise. The monsters are really cool and could very well be used as a reward for children who can be challenging. Please give it a go, its great! I’ve done a Moshi Monsters’ guide if anyone wants it” Pete’s Moshi Monsters’ guide can be downloaded from:

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Sent to Flo from Pete Wells – a long time ago... Just change the names in the bug poem to the names of the children in your group to personalise the words and make it really relevant. It is an easy task to read through and collect the items need (or substitutes as you wish) for a fun time for all.


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Multisensory page Sometimes we think that tastes and smells are quite easy to identify and also to describe. Special learners are often asked about the taste or small of what they are eating or drinking – perhaps with little reaction shown. It is easy to forget how complex smells and tastes are for anyone to describe in detail.

Smell of beer Alcoholic, fruity, floral, hoppy, resinous, nutty, grassy, mealy, malty, caramel, tarry, sulfury, yeasty, oily, watery, burnt……………….

For example, if we are having a glass of beer, we choose the one that appeals to our palate, the one that tastes best for us. If you are lucky and live in Belgium (like I do!) then there is a vast array of beers from which to choose, including those made with fruits such as raspberry. The beers are also served in a glass which bears the name of the chosen beer, a nice clue that it is the chosen beer. There is a specialist trade way of describing the tastes or smell of beer and it is called ‘The Meilgaard beer flavour wheel’. There are a lot more smell descriptors on the wheel than taste, so a good ‘nose’ is needed for a good beer. The wheel identifies nearly 50 different descriptions for taste and smell, here are few of them.

Tastes of beer Bitter, salty, warming, chalky, mouldy, stale, salty, mouthcoating (creamy), body (thick or bland) catty (oxidized beer) sharp mineralised………….

So, when we expect very special children to describe the tastes and smells they encounter each day, just remember how difficult it is to describe your beer! Make sure that they encounter a variety of tastes or smells that are very different. For example, put away the tea or orange squash choice at break time and offer the contrast of pineapple juice or a herbal tea. Offer words (and facial expressions) that may help them remember the contrast between two very different smells and tastes. Other contrasts could include: Tomato juice, coca cola, lemon juice, ginger beer (tickles the nose too) coffee, iron bru, appletise……………………..

(and if anyone would like a copy of the beer wheel, just contact the editor)

Visual delights Herve Tullet is a French author who makes and writes the most sensory of books. The books are full of surprises and are intensely sensory in approach. Best of all, most of them are printed on sturdy card pages and are okay for any age or level of reading – no words needed! This book is called 'eye to eye' and is full of clear exciting images that emphasise the eyes and also offer the opportunity to look through the eyes as well.

All the books are available on Amazon or booksellers.

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Electronic exchange FREE help for children who are blind or visually impaired is now available from Margaret & Roger Wilson-Hinds. Both are blind themselves and Roger is a former head teacher of a school for blind children. Having experienced the great advantages that computers can bring to blind people it has been Roger's vision for some years that blind children everywhere should also have the opportunity to benefit from them. Now the couple have received a grant from BBC Children in Need to help them to further their goal. Their website is and their software, which you can download FREE from their website, makes a modern computer speak Readers of the early editions of information Exchange, will remember Roger Hinds as he contributed many articles and ideas to the magazine. How lovely to see that both he and his wife, Margaret, are still busy helping very special children.

For more information or to find out how you can join the network, go to

A follow-up to the front cover of the last Information Exchange: St Margaret’s gets Top Marks from Ofsted St Margaret’s School, part of The Children’s Trust is celebrating after Ofsted gave it top grades across the board in its recent inspection and judged it ‘outstanding’ in all nine inspection categories, the highest grade possible.

Well done Roger and Margaret!

Sounds of Intent This is the website of the Sounds of Intent project, which looks very closely at how very special learners encounter and then engage with music. It reports on some very interesting research- a new framework of musical development, the Sound of Intent. Those involved included Adam Ockleford, Sally Zimmerman, Professor Graham Welch and Dr Evangelos Himonides. The research meant that some aspects of the framework were modified and changed. It is a very interesting framework and is of particular interest to those involved in music and special learners-but also the lay person. Well worth a look. Hopefully, an article about this innovatory work will appear soon, in this magazine.

The PMLD Network “If we are going to make a difference we need to work together. That means partnerships with families, self advocates, statutory and voluntary organisations. Together we can campaign for change and help to form a truly inclusive society where everyone is valued equally.” 26

The PMLD Network is a group of people committed to improving the lives of children and adults with PMLD. We run an email forum where current issues are debated and where individuals can post details of the barriers they are facing and get advice and support.

The school for children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) and complex health needs based in Tadworth, Surrey, was praised by the Government’s inspectorate for schools and learners for its “very high quality education and care” and the happy environment it provides to meet the pupils’ special educational needs. To enable its pupils to achieve, St Margaret’s published its own Developmental Curriculum in 2006 which combines education with therapy, nursing and care support, which was also acknowledged by Ofsted. The inspecting body said in its report: “The curriculum, designed and developed by the school, is outstanding because it focuses primarily on the developmental needs of all learners, and the assessment of these.” The integration of education with therapy, nursing and care support was cited as a particular strength of the school, as well as the way it fully involves parents and even grandparents in the progress of the pupils. Jan Cunningham, Head Teacher at St Margaret’s School said: “We’re delighted with the results of Ofsted’s inspection. Our pupils and staff work really hard to make sure everyone gets the most out of each and every school day so the ‘outstanding’ grades we achieved are a testament to everyone’s hard work. Well done everybody.”

Issue 77 Spring 2009

Hello from Lilli

A message from Lilli Neilsen in Denmark Dear Flo Thank you very much for the congratulation and for sending me the copy of the journal. I would like to give you some of the information you are asking for. The books can be ordered at The perceptualysing aids mentioned in the article can be ordered at LH-verkstan Kraftgatan 8 776 33 Hedemora Sweden phone +46 225-344 97 fax: +46 225 344 96 You did nor mention the HOPSA-dress. That can be ordered at Anatomic Sitt Trolllaasveien 8, Postboks 628, 1411 Kolbotn, Norway. I have been involved in two videos recorded in Switzerland. They are available in DVD. The title is "Perceptualyzing aids Volume 1 +2". They are available in several languages. If you order, please, remember to order with English text. Volume 1 deals with the perceptualyzing aids and how they are used by some children with disabilities. Volume 2 shows me working several children with disabilities. Can be ordered at Videcom "Lilli Nielsen", Z端rcherstrasse 204, CH-9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland Mail: I hope this will be of help and so get people to achieve original products for their learners instead of using poor copies. Thank you, Flo, for being as faithful as you are. Best wishes Lilli

Issue 77 Spring 2009


How to empty bubble tubes


Issue 77 Spring 2009

News from the RNIB

Curriculum Clipboard: Complex Needs RNIB has recently expanded its website for teaching professionals to include a complex needs branch. The Curriculum Clipboard website has historically focused on curriculum provision for children in mainstream education settings, but now includes material relating to children with complex needs and visual impairment in special schools. There are six section headings: • Understanding complex needs • Communication • Movement and mobility • Assessment • In the classroom • The staff team

Much of the information on the site has been compiled by members or affiliates of the VITAL group (Visual Impairment Touches All Learning). VITAL is a working group that brings together professionals (teaching, theraputic, care and health) who have an interest in children with complex needs and visual impairment. VITAL produces materials, organises a conference and now operates a network of regional focus groups throughout England and Wales which offer professional development and networking opportunities. If you would like to contribute to the website or become involved in a VITAL focus group please contact Sarah Holton, Curriculum Access Officer: Complex Needs, or telephone 0113 274 8855.

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Loving Memories of Hector Sadly, Hector a very special child, who was on the front cover of Information Exchange (and portrayed in articles in the past) died last May. Hector held a warm spot in many people's hearts, especially those living in the Bristol area. Hectors family have been involved very much in the Woodside Centre Bristol, even as Hector became older, they still supported the work undertaken there. Everyone at Information Exchange, sends a message of condolence to the family of Hector – one that is tinged with happy memories of Hector – a very special child with a radiant personality.

Here is the cover of a special article written about Hector and his achievements taken from the archive of Information Exchange.


Issue 77 Spring 2009

Book Reviews Useful Websites for interactive stories: A national scheme providing free book packs for young children and information for parents, with special packs now available for both blind and hearing-impaired children. Gives information and products from the Bag Books range; guidelines for writing an interactive story, aims of the charity, including details of how to help with fundraising Find out about the history and benefits of story sacks. View and buy Storysacks, Play and Perform Boxes and the new Sandsacks (ideas and resources encouraging sand play) Promoting sign language for babies and children, with ideas and suggestions for creating story sacks of your own ABC3D A spectacular pop-up Alphabet Book. The letters come to life in all their glorious 3D novelty. Never before has the alphabet been as beautiful, or as much fun! Learning Together – A creative approach to learning for children with multiple disabilities and a visual impairment by Mary Lee and Lindi MacWilliam (Second edition) Revised in 2008, this second edition of acclaimed communication programme, “Movement, gesture and sign” explains how consistent responses and appropriate learning conditions offer the security and motivation that young learners need to develop greater self confidence, a sense of exploration and an ability to communicate. Available from RNIB. Price £15.95 Using Intensive Interaction and Sensory Integration – A Handbook for Those who Support People with Severe Autistic Spectrum Disorder Phoebe Caldwell with Jane Horwood 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. Available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers at Price £12.99 Communication Profile for People with Severe Visual Impairment and Additional Disabilities by Ian Bell “As a descriptive, formative document, the profile has obvious value…a useful addition to building information-sharing documents to help improve the lives of people with visual impairment and additional difficulties.” Reviewed in Insight by Dr Liz Hodges, University of Birmingham This Profile is designed to overcome many of the difficulties encountered when presenting information to professionals about levels of communication in a developmentally young child with severe visual impairment and additional disabilities. It provides a comprehensive description of the individual’s communication skills, and can be used with adults as well as children. Its uniqueness lies in the specific focus upon people with visual impairment and additional disabilities, rather than being an adaptation of instruments primarily designed to target other disability groups. The Profile is expressed in the first person, as if it has been written by the individual, and consists of a computer file menu. Items which do not apply to the person are deleted; those that do are personalised by the person completing it. There are six sections covering: 1. A summary of how to support the individual 2. Communication in different situations 3. Interaction with others 4. Receptive communication 5. The meanings communicated 6. Expressive communication If you would like to purchase a copy of this publication, email: Price £12.50 inc P&P

Issue 77 Spring 2009


Information Exchange - Spring 2009  

Information Exchange magazine - Issue 77 - Spring 2009

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