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Issue 78 Summer 2009

Nicolas enjoying feeling Claire's voice

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.

The Jungle area in Panda classroom

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.

Editors page


Sensory Weather Umbrellas


Person Centred Design

6-8 9

Dragons cave in Panda classroom


The life and times of Shirley Bassey


A sense of playfulness by Judy Densiloe




Rag Bag To Buy


Rag Bag to Make


Teenage Chillout


The summer ‘End of the Pier’ show


Electronic exchange


Conferences and Courses


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

£350.00 £250.00 £150.00 £75.00

Claire and Nicolas interact and communicate without many words but with incredible communications!

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.


Claire and Nicolas are from Claremont Primary in Bristol and Sally Silverman, our roving reporter, took the wonderful images on the front and back cover.

Issue 78 Summer 2009

Editorial The Information Exchange Editorial Team


Flo Longhorn:

Dear readers, a summer treat for you – lots of new ideas articles and more of the dreaded umbrellas! They seem to follow me around the world-but are super environments of learning! I am seriously thinking of writing a book about them – so if you have any to share( photos not the umbrellas) let me know. A special thanks to schools and Mandy Williams from Australia, for sending in excellent ideas of good practise. Please see if you could the same, dear reader. Sometimes I feel like I have written most of the issue – this is not good as the magazine should reflects its readers not the editor! So surprise me and send anything big or small for the bumper Christmas edition coming out next November. I shall watch for the post or emails from YOU! Enjoy summery days everyone, Best sensory wishes, Flo

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 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 Go to and look for

”Information Exchange page”

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Sensory Weather Umbrellas representing...





The umbrellas in action! 4

Issue 78 Summer 2009

Sensory Weather Umbrellas

– a sensory geography lesson

– Simon is the geography co-ordinator at Old Hall School Walsall and Jo and Kiran are his amazing learning support assistants Issue 78 Summer 2009


Person Centred Design – Mandy Williams, Australia Engaging people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) in the process of designing their garden space Background In 2007, a garden space became available for redevelopment. It was to be used by a group of adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities attending Milparinka, an adult day support service. Milparinka is committed to a person centred philosophy, and therefore was keen to ensure that the re-development of the garden was driven “by the users for the users”. This was to ensure a match between the structures and activities the garden offered and the users’ needs and interests. Existing garden The garden was a small fenced space accessed via two rooms that were used as “home base” rooms for people with high support needs. It had seats that had no back supports or arm rests to assist transfers, a couple of trees and uneven footpaths and areas of bark chips that regularly attracted the attention of people who like to self engage by chewing objects! Exploring design considerations • What did we already know about the people who would use the garden? Some people went to the existing garden to escape over-stimulating situations. Others enjoyed specific self initiated activities, such as ball games. The staff had collated records of people’s communication skills and communication supports. The people have unintentional, intentional informal or early symbolic communication skills. People’s files indicated that they were more actively engaged when activities and environments were sensory-focused to match their sensory preferences and skills. Support staff used this information to individualise their support to each person in all activities. • Initial design idea! The support staff suggested a ‘sensory garden’. We decided to explore the literature. What is a sensory garden? All gardens stimulate the senses. The following highlights the key principles we used to define our garden space. Paul Pagliano (2007) uses two terms “a generic term which is used to describe the multisensory nature of any environment and a specific term Multisensory Environment which is written in capitals (MSE). He describes the MSE as both a 6

physical space and a process. “A hybrid, multifunctional space allows sense stimulation to be purposefully engineered. Stimuli can be presented in isolation or in combination, intensified or reduced and shaped for passive or active interaction. Stimulation can therefore be planned to fit the unstable sense ability requirements of an individual with debilitating perceptual difficulties and /or profound disabilities, whether these are progressive, fluctuating, stable or regressive. The MSE as a process becomes an individual scaffold, specifically designed to more closely match the user’s current motivation, interests and leisure, relaxation, therapeutic and/or educational needs. This environmental support mechanism with its careful mix of constancy and change provides opportunity for the individual to gain control of their internal sensory experiences. Successful use of the MSE must be sensitive to the ongoing internal changes in the individual. It involves frequent monitoring, systematic evaluation and both short and long term adjustments of the external environment coupled with the use of highly specialised pedagogy.” The space is designed from the person out. Richard Hirstwood (2007) wrote “…. the word “studio” is an expression that more accurately reflects the varied needs of the space and helps to overcome the stigma of a room which has traditionally been seen as a place where children with profound and multiple disability go!”. It is a flexible space. Usually a studio has key elements and then the artist adds to or manipulates the elements to express themselves through their art. (For example, a dedicated space for music. drama, dance, science etc, etc). Robert Orr (2007) is quoted as saying … “A pox on Multisensory Rooms! It is the skills and intuition of the carer which transforms the glitzy stimulating environment into a comprehensible chain of events”. Susan Fowler (2008) wrote “Proper training can enable the support person to capitalize on one of Multisensory Environments most unique and special features – that is: they enable sensory experiences to be delivered in a structured and controlled manner”. Alison Shorrock (2007) presented a paper at the First Annual Multisensory Exploration Conference “Multisensory Environments big and small: Validating current practice” about Everyday Sensory Experiences (ESEs). “What we learn

Issue 78 Summer 2009

Person Centred Design about the supports require to assist a person to participate in a Multisensory Environment is then transferred to everyday activities”. Support staff were already committed to using individualised supports in everyday activities. They embraced the idea of a space they could manipulate to provide optimum opportunities for each person to participate using their skills and interests. The “Studio Garden” concept captured the essence of this. We now needed the users to tell us what they wanted in the garden. • User Testing – designing for the individual by the individual. Engaging people with complex communication needs in the decision making process! The staff commenced creating a match between the client’s needs and interests and the garden design.The studio garden will have core fixed elements or structures. Staff can then create changes to the space by introducing a further range of elements that match the individual user’s interests and preferences. User testing – using feedback from the users to select fixtures and activity resources o October 2007 – March 2008 staff conducted off site user testing to evaluate people’s responses to different garden experiences. o Staff completed a User Questionnaire during each garden visit. o The User Questionnaire was developed based on concepts and processes used by The Sensory Trust (UK) with their Sensory Mapping Data Collection Form. It documented the users’ expressions of “like”, “dislike” and the fixtures and activities they showed interest in. o Repeated weekly visits were made to one garden site offering a diverse range of experiences. Repeated visits were made because people were often apprehensive about unfamiliar places. Repeated visits helped develop people’s anticipation as familiarity grew. Over time a reduction in anxiety and demonstration of memory for previous positive interactive experiences was observed. People started to initiate more interaction with objects and activities in the garden.

o The User Questionnaire feedback was collated by Erinn Miller, the Manager of Communication and Participation at Milparinka. Mandy Williams, Consulting Occupational Therapist, then provided a sensory analysis of the results. o The staff were then asked to use the collated feedback to make recommendations for both fixtures and equipment that would enable them to support people’s interests. o Draft designs were completed by Mandy and Erinn and submitted to staff for approval. The final plan was submitted to management for approval and allocation of funding. o Re-development commenced July 2008 The new garden design • Structure and purpose o All existing structures and bark chips removed. o A level area was extended to increase the possibility of having small group activities. o Handrails were added to provide support for people with subtle balance difficulties to confidently access the garden independently. o Handrails have mounting plates to which screens are attached. The screens will separate 3 activity areas and assist with reducing distractions. o Artificial turf replaced bark and bare soil areas. The turf will resolve the problem of maintenance related to water restrictions during drought periods and natural wear and tear. o A small storage shed was installed to store containers of activities. o A small alcove to create a place for people who become over stimulated. This space has bench seating. o An over-head mounting system was installed in the small alcove to which items can be attached e.g. wind chimes, mobiles etc. o A swing chair was installed. o Suitable tables and chairs were purchased to use for meals related and table-top activities. • Activities o Activity containers are stored in a small storage shed. Items purchased and used were selected based on individual needs and interests.

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Person Centred Design o Mounted wall panels have interactive items that have the sensory qualities identified through user testing including – tactile panel, interactive music panel, visual – reflective items, interactive locks and doors. These panels are designed to be removable so that they can also be mounted indoors on walls or tables as required. o Mobile garden beds can be taken indoors in winter or removed to another garden area at the centre if space or reduced distractions are required. o Indoor activities can be moved out doors in suitable weather e.g. art, cooking, ball games, sensory focused drama.

Turf and handrails installed

The garden is currently under construction. People will be actively involved in shopping expeditions for equipment and making items such as textured sections for wall panels. The users and their support staff are closely watching and exploring the gradual changes to their immediate environment. Photos of some of the initial structural changes …

Turf and extended level area with retaining wall


Original space with bark removed Extending level surface area

o Fowler, S (2008) Multisensory Rooms o Hirstwood, R. (2007). Breathe a new lease of life into your sensory room! o Orr, R (2007) Conference proceedings - the First Annual Multisensory Exploration Conference “Multisensory Environments big and small: Validating current practice” Mayfair Conference Centre, London, 12th October 2007 o Pagliano, P.J. (2007 October). What are Multisensory Environments? Keynote Paper presented at the First Annual Multisensory Exploration Conference “Multisensory Environments big and small: Validating current practice” Mayfair Conference Centre, London, 12th October 2007. o Sensory Mapping Data Collection Form Sensory Trust – o Shorrock, A (2007) The ESE project. A DVD presentation at the First Annual Multisensory Exploration Conference “Multisensory Environments big and small: Validating current practice” Mayfair Conference Centre, London, 12th October 2007.

Mandy Williams Communication Resource Centre A service of Scope Australia Extending level surface area


Many thanks Mandy for this interesting approach to planning which is so inclusive. We look forward to the follow-on as the garden grows!

Issue 78 Summer 2009

The Jungle area in Panda classroom

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Dragons cave in Panda classroom


Issue 78 Summer 2009

The life and times of Shirley Bassey A very special history lesson from Penarth, Wales I (the editor) recently spent a very interesting and rewarding time at Ysgol Erw'r Delyn School in Penarth, a school that really likes to share and celebrate the achievements of their pupils, across the age range. Sian, the history teacher, really wowed me with her unusual approach to history. She had researched some recent local history (which would be of particular relevance to her very special pupils). She selected the life theme of a very famous Welsh singer, Shirley Bassey. Here are the ideas and photographs of the project work, I am sure the enthusiasm and enjoyment of both class staff and pupils had undertaking this history project, really shine through. It is especially good to see the subject of history being tackled in such a positive way!

• Bag of spices for the multicultural aspect of Tiger Bay and trade from all over the world, • String of wooden beads to represent African immigrants, • Fish and boat for Cardiff Bay, • Blue umbrella to represent the water of Cardiff Bay.

Shirley Bassey -early years working packing fish in a factory The early life umbrella contained: • Photos of Shirley as a young child, • Patterned cotton material to represent the poorer clothes she had, passed down from her sister, • Bucket for fish on Cardiff docks, • China pot and cardboard because she worked in a factory packing ceramics, • Rough string for the roughness of the docks, • Photo of the docks with metal oddments on the back to represent the cranes and machinery at the docks,

The black umbrella represented her life after she became famous and included: • Silk bag with perfume soaked on cotton wool for glamour,

Issue 78 Summer 2009


The life and times of Shirley Bassey • Red glitter card cut out in shape of her dress, • White feather because she wore boas, • Red rose to represent her marriage, • Gold stars for showbiz, • CD for the success she had with songs

umbrellas and really focused well, tracking and reaching out for the objects as they twirled and shimmered. All the pupils were calmed and also wonder struck by being under the umbrellas. They were a fantastic addition to the activities and I am very grateful for the inspiration.

As well as umbrellas, I had two boxes of props representing the early and later part of her life. The Early box included: • A bag of pebbles, • Vinyl record, • Rough materials. Later box included: • A sparkly black dress, • Pink sequin material, • ‘Diamond’ ring and necklace, • Gold shoes, • Black wig, • Tiara (because she was made a dame), • Red sparkly face paint, • Pink boas, • Black Cindy doll, • Plastic microphone. I introduced each lesson by playing ‘History Repeating Itself’ by Shirley Bassey. Then I read her life story from the book “Shirley Bassey” by John Evans (which also comes as a big book), pausing to show props and use the umbrellas. When I opened the black umbrella, I played songs from her CD including “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Kiss Me Honey, Honey” (particular favourites with pupils). Then a pupil would choose to be dressed up as Shirley and was given the microphone to sing along. These are 8 pupils, aged 11 to 15, with severe learning difficulties, three girls (two with English as a 2nd language) and five boys. They all loved the activities and boys and girls both chose to dress up as Shirley. I have some fantastic photos! The combination of loud, vibrant music and the glitzy umbrella (with a torch shining on it) created a really special experience, which literally had the ‘Wow!” factor, and which was in stark contrast to the early years umbrella with no music and no torch. In the previous term, I had used the same props and umbrellas with a class of seven profoundly disabled youngsters, aged 14 to 18. They were equally captivated by the wonderful environment under the


I am planning the next ones! Maybe Dracula and Cinderella, which would again provide a striking contrast of environments and experiences for the youngsters.

Issue 78 Summer 2009

A sense of playfulness by Judy Denziloe

I’ve been thinking a lot about playfulness recently, and the part it plays in my personal and professional life. Play is the glue that holds generations and cultures together and playfulness is what makes the glue work. Many of us – early years workers, teachers, therapists – use play as an important part of our work with children and young people who have severe or profound disabilities, but sometimes it looks as though we are “doing play” to them, or observing their attempts, rather than being players together. Often we are teaching play skills to children – modelling the play activity, supporting their movements, and so on – but can we teach playfulness?

The importance of play

Sometimes the way we use play is dictated by our professional aims (therapy, education, or language development, for instance), sometimes by what we feel are the important features of play. This is usually based on our play memories, so for most of us the valuable aspects of play will be

• Freedom, independence, exploration, spontaneity, choice • Communication (facial expression, body language, gesture, voice) • Social interaction (taking turns, following rules, learning to win and lose gracefully) • Imagination and creativity • Child-led, open-ended, flexible • Fun, satisfaction, pleasure • Taking risks, facing challenges, developing selfconfidence and self-esteem Ensuring that many of our special children and young people experience these aspects of play may be a challenge for us and for them – how can we give them feelings of freedom (physical and mental) and independence when they need us to be there supporting them? How can we enable them to take risks (within appropriate safety boundaries), to feel that “buzz” of trying something new, finding you can do it, and feeling that sense of achievement and selfconfidence. Is play fun, lighthearted and pleasurable if every movement is tiring, or if you cannot understand the

Issue 78 Summer 2009


A sense of playfulness by Judy Denziloe purpose of the game or how to use the toy? So often, in my experience, we set children up to fail by giving them an activity which is too hard, or has hidden rules, or by expecting them to have play or social skills that they have not yet had the opportunity to develop.

Imaginative play – an advanced play skill

Pretending to be someone or somewhere else, using objects to be whatever you want them to be, recreating different scenarios (playing schools, or shops, for instance), doll play – all of these require concentration, memory, language and planning skills, awareness of self and others, and so on. If the child is lining up rows of cars is he obsessed with cars, or is he developing a narrative structure about driving to Sainsbury’s car park with Mummy? If it is the latter, and we fail to recognise it, we are missing opportunities to engage with him in more advanced play activities. If we interpret it as imaginative play when it isn’t, and we place him in a group of children who are more skilful players, we are setting him up to fail.

Is there a “game playing” gene?

Most non-disabled children seem to have an instinctive grasp of what it means to play games (competing against other people, working together as a team to compete against another team). Imagine explaining to an alien what football is: “The object of the game is to get this ball in that net over there”. Most sensible aliens will pick the ball up, walk over to the net and place the ball there! Many disabled children will find it difficult to understand the hidden rules about turn taking, how the game is played, when the action starts and stops. Many children with autism simply think “Why do I need to do this thing?”

When do we stop playing?

George Bernard Shaw, who was a playful and creative man throughout his long life, said “We do not cease to play because we grow old, we grow old because we cease to play”. Provided we nurture a child-like (not childish) approach to life, our ability to explore/test/play with objects, words, ideas and feelings will continue throughout our lives – joyfulness, creativity, and smile lines rather than frown lines!


Here come the age-appropriateness police!

We owe it to the children and young people we support to ensure that they continue to have a wide range of play experiences which are appropriate to their needs and interests as well as to their age. It is also important to think about place-appropriateness – if a teenager is enjoying an activity in the privacy of their own classroom, living room or sensory room that is a very different matter to them taking a teddy bear or a baby’s rattle out in the street. It is our responsibility to protect their human right to enjoy a wide range of meaningful experiences in a way that is appropriate for them, and it is our challenge to think through the issues and be creative about the materials we use and the way we use them. I bought a baby’s fabric ball because it contained an electronic noisemaker which I can remove and place in a small cushion, to use with teenagers – every time we throw, catch or drop the cushion we get a wonderful range of weird noises!

Issue 78 Summer 2009

A sense of playfulness by Judy Denziloe Sensory materials

So what is playfulness?

The “Wow” factor

Those last two points are direct quotes from the literature on Intensive Interaction, and there are strong links between that approach, play and playfulness: respect, feeling in control and – most important – enjoying each other’s company.

There are many reasons why I love to work with sensory materials. They are suitable for such a wide range of ages and abilities. Babies enjoy treasure baskets full of natural materials (pine cones, a cane ball, wooden whisks, pastry brushes and stiffer vegetable brushes), but so can teenagers or older people with dementia – we are not insulting them with childish toys. There are few rules (beyond basic safety ones) about how you use the materials, unlike many toys and other activities. Sensory materials offer opportunities to explore – and express – likes, dislikes and choices. They can support the development of creative and imaginative skills. Something beautiful, unusual, shiny, or just unexpected, can often be the start of an interaction. If you give the child something that lights up (whether it is an expensive fibre optic tail or something cheap and cheerful), it is quite likely they will want to include you in the excitement and the interaction can develop from there. We all need the “Wow” factor in our lives!

• An added dimension to the play, beyond functional play skills • Social and emotional interaction • Mutual engagement, sharing experiences and sensations • Joyfulness, a “lightness of being” • Knowing sensations of “I am good to be with” • Knowing the joy and satisfaction arising from communicating effectively with other human beings

A sense of playfulness is an essential part of the person specification for anyone who works, plays, or lives with children. Judy Denziloe is a freelance trainer specialising in play and sensory work for disabled people of all ages.

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Parents experience of services: children and young people with complex learning needs In the press this week once again the health service provision for individuals with learning disabilities has been headline news. Lack of awareness, understanding perhaps say something of training but lack of empathy is hard to forgive. There is substantial evidence that children and young people with learning disabilities have a significantly higher incidence of hearing loss (e.g. Stredler-Brown and Yoshinago-Itano,1996). Hearing may be perceived to be the “least of a child’s problems”, that a hearing assessment has been undertaken and that this was an appropriate test of hearing status. Those working with this group may feel making sounds louder will automatically but just as with a child who has a visual impairment high levels of light may be unhelpful, so with a child with a hearing loss high levels of sound may very problematic.

Where did this research originate? We are running a study funded by the National Deaf Children’s’ Society (NDCS) to try to understand better parental experience of services (both good and needing to improve). The NDCS run a series of weekends for families who have deaf children with additional or complex needs. A family were chatting

and explaining that their son’s new hearing aid made little if any difference. In discussion it became clear the hearing aids, which should be fitted to very specific targets using a computer interface were in fact simply posted to the family-on factory settings. This meant that there was little if any chance of the aids being appropriate for their son. Another family had given up on hearing aids and only when we chatted about the potential effects of high frequency hearing loss did the parents say “No one ever told us, we see now why she responded without the aids but didn’t understand what else she was missing”. Clearly there is no suggestion that any professional sets out to provide a less that good service but many may lack training, information and skills in meeting the needs of very complex children and young people. National protocols of healthcare for example seek to establish basic good practice and this is an ideal starting point. If in doubt it is natural to default to the known approach or protocol, for those with atypical development however such an approach may be the least appropriate. Good practice needs to be supported by a creative child and family centred approach. By using the information of all those closely involved with the child professionals have the best chance of offering a sensitive approach within healthcare, education provision and social care.

Do hope readers will respond to this very interesting and important study – the editor 16

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Parent experiences of services for deaf and hearing children with complex needs The NDCS and the University of Manchester, led by principal investigator Wendy McCracken, are working together on a new study • We want to hear parents’ experiences of services that are involved with their deaf children who have complex needs. By ‘services’ we mean a full range of organisations and individuals, such as: Family Doctor, Social Worker, Audiologist, Speech/Language therapist, Heath Visitor, Class teacher, Paediatrician, Teacher of the Deaf, Physiotherapist etc. • By ‘deaf’ we mean any degree and type of hearing loss, including temporary loss and glue ear. We also want to hear from the families of hearing children with complex needs. • By ‘complex needs’ we mean a wide range of needs, such as: Down’s syndrome or other syndromes (e.g. CHARGE, Fragile X, Hurler’s), Cerebral palsy, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Autistic spectrum disorder, ADHD, Gross developmental delay, Profound/severe learning disabilities, Developmental delay, Visual impairment or blindness etc. • The study would involve an informal interview, over the phone or in person depending on your preference. You would be free to tell us as much or as little as you like • If you are interested in taking part in the study or have any questions about it, please contact: Oliver Turner, Room A3.9, Ellen Wilkinson Building, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL. Email: Tel: 0161 275 8562

We very much want to hear what you have to say and look forward to hearing from you

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Rag Bag To Buy The last of the excellent pet shop super sensory buys! Jingly colourful gloves to use for counting or the beginning of puppetry.

A very green ,vibrating frog who is worked by a simple pull string

And finally, scratch boards for kitty that make a lovely scrach book for early readers. Have a look in ‘Pets at Home’ stores found in shopping malls in the UK and in Australia too.


Issue 78 Summer 2009

Rag Bag To Buy Wikki Stix Rainbow Pack

Outdoor Classrooms

Twistable, stickable, creatable, re-usable hands-on playthings. Easy to twist and bend for younger children to enjoy and gives older children a medium for unlimited creativity. Coated with a unique wax formula to stick to almost any surface.

Garden Products: • Clip-up Shade Canopies (standard sizes or madeto-measure) • Play Teepees • Magical Minibeast Discovery Kits • Potato Tower Food Cycle Starter Packs • Sandpit/Digging Bed Covers • “Soil Factory” – Wormery Recycling Systems • Sensory Station Sets • Physical Development Equipment • Sculpture Sets and Jack-a-nory Chairs

Available from: The Green Board Game Company Tel: 01494 538999

Fluffy Go Walkies Take her glowing lead and Go Walkies with Fluffy. Press the handle to hear her bark happily. Connect up to 3 leads together to take them all for a walk at the same time.

All their products are handmade in the UK as part of a long-term demonstration project. To register for updates of developments, observations and casestudy material visit:

Crazee Diamond

Price: £18 Available from: Vivid Imaginations Tel: 01702 200660

Sparkle PlayFoam Use these re-mouldable, non-drying sculpting beads to create dazzling models. Sparkle PlayFoam feels clean – perfect for children who dislike messy hands. Mix the sparkly bricks to create new multicoloured shades. Available in a set of 12 bricks of eight different colours and a set of 5 bricks of six different colours. Price: £20 for a set of 12, £9 for a set of 6 Available from: Learning Resources Tel: 0845 241 0485

This is a looped tetrahedral which is joined by fabric hinges. It can be twisted into more than 650 forms by folding the tetrahedron elements. The ease with which this transformable chain can be handled is a great attraction to young and old. Great for wriggly fingers!! Price: £15 Available from: Crazee Thingz Tel: 0845 230 2328

Smelly summer bubbles Tesco is selling the highly scented bubbles again this year. They come in a pack of three and smell strongly-peppermint and vanilla especially. They are cheap and cheerful but fun for all ages!

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Rag Bag To Make What am I ? Here is a simply made ‘exploration’ box to feel touch and explore. It is made from a discarded presentation box that held a watch. It was lined with black sponge. Coloured pipe cleaners were cut into small pieces and inserted into the sponge to form interesting shapes and patterns to explore. The textures were all soft and warm to touch and visually attractive. Under ultraviolet light the pipe cleaners glow and look very wormy!

A ‘glow in the dark’ stretchy black box made with a discarded old drawer painted black.


Issue 78 Summer 2009

Rag Bag To Make Coloured sands in a bottle

different settings to add interest to the toast

• Out it pops and now the artist has a masterpiece

You will need: • Fine white sand • Newspaper • Greaseproof paper • Coloured chalks, food colouring or dry paint • Plastic bottles with capsdifferent sizes and different neck sizes to suit the artist • Funnel to fit the bottles (wide for wobbly hands) • Stick • Glue • Piece of board

to eat!

• If you want top the toast with a bit of butter it

should soak in and the art work can still be seen

Summer days are here! How about a beach sundae! Summer ice sundae

How to make the sandy bottle:

• Cover the table with newspaper. • Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a board on the table. • Place some sand on the wax paper. Roll a piece of coloured chalk across the sand until the sand completely changes colour. • You can substitute a little food colouring or dry paint instead. • Lift the greaseproof paper and gently shake the sand to the centre • Pour the coloured sand into the bottle with care • Poke a stick into the bottle to make some wavy shapes in the sand • Repeat until you have layers of coloured sand in the bottle until it is full • Compact it down, place glue inside the bottle cap and screw on the bottle.

Ingredients • Vanilla pudding-Angel delight (2 or three packs depending on the size of the cook group) • Milk •Ice cream wafers • Ziploc bag, freezer • Rolling pin • Miniature umbrellas or sparkly sticks • Large grapes or maraschino cherries-to represent the beach ball on the beach! • Clear plastic drinking cups How to cook

• Follow the directions on the package of Angel delight.

• When set then divide the pudding between the clear plastic drinking cups

• Place cups in the refrigerator. • Place wafers in Ziploc bag. Use the rolling pin to

Bread Painting Snack A fun snack idea, paint a piece of bread!

roll the wafers into very small pieces to make the sand. • Sprinkle the sand across the top of all the cups. • Place back in refrigerator until time to serve. • At party time, remove cups from refrigerator; add a grape or cherry and an opened miniature umbrella to the cup.

You will need: • White Bread, thick white sliced is sturdy! • New Paint Brushes • A variety of Food Colourings • Milk How to make a painted snack:

• Collect and count the bottles of food colouring • Match each to a cup quarter filled with milk • Using the food colouring, add a different colour to each cup~ be sparing, a drop at a time

• Enable the artist to use the paint brush to paint pictures or make marks on the slice of bread

• Make sure that bread doesn't get too wet • When the picture is done, toast the bread .try

Beach party begins! Added features • Put on the music of the Beach Boys • Spread out towels on which to sit and enjoy the sundaes • Pass around the sun cream rub into hands and smell the special beach aroma. • Is there a pair of sun specs around?

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Teenage Chillout Sent in by Kay Evans a member of the editorial board – thank you Kay!

• Mix colours together- one from each of 2 peers and

At school, we have been looking into our students being encouraged in self-recognition/awareness, team work and natural resources that are used in everyday living.

Music making using natural resources

Science: Natural Resources

• Make wind chimes or clay ‘bells’ for a mobile. • Go for a walk and gather natural resources such as wood, leaves – make sure they are ‘clean’.


What’s needed: • A catapult board- This is made from a wooden board (check for splinters) with strong dowelling rods stuck into it. • A long piece of strong elastic, rubber or cord (like a bungee tie for cars but remove the hooks) attached to the board via the dowelling rods or something similar. • Small soft toys or balls. Activities

• Let the students pull the elastic carefully- an adult at the other end.

• Encourage them to pull it back, with the toy involved, to

see what happens when the elastic is released. • This could be extended to use of lycra sheets that are stitched into a tunnel shape – see how pushing and pulling can be used as a team game for building trust and self-esteem. • Explore pushing and pulling – large and small objects. • Use dough to show pushes can change the shape of it. • Give pupils tasks in the classroom which involve pushing and pulling e.g. opening and closing the door, pushing a wheelchair – again using the words like ‘push’ and ‘pull’, ‘stronger’, ‘further’. Things to think about

• Make a breeze using a piece of card, bellows or a

large fan and make each pupil’s hair move in the breeze. • Make a mobile of strands of tinsel – move by blowing, pushing, pulling. • Use a hair dryer to show an example of making a breeze, allow the pupils to experience it and then use it to blow a car along or make boats float in the water bath.

Self-awareness What's needed: • A large piece of paper or canvas attached to a wall or similar outdoors. • Selection of paints • Selection of mark makers – brushes for decorating, rollers, rubber gloves, hand prints, pan scrubbing pads, bath scrub balls, sponges and many more! What to do:

• Make a wall painting as a team (outdoors) involving all

colours and mark makers- encourage peers to share colours and brushes, encourage them to wait for their turn. • Encourage each person to give and take from each other or an adult. 22

experience the results.

• Explore them by use of senses – look, smell, listen, touch. • Create a collage and try to put the items in shade spectra. Frame with lolly sticks and feathers.

On the physical development side What's needed: • Shallow trays of water • wellies or waterproof footwear- sometimes the shoe covers available from swimming pools can be used to cover footwear • dry outdoor paved area. What to do

• Get students to walk around the area, sometimes taking long or short strides

• Can they make patterns in moving such as hops, jumps, skips?

• Space out the trays of water and explain that it's okay to find the trays and get their boots wet

• Get students to walk around making tracks, stepping into the trays on the way (make sure student is safe and not unsteady). try making different rails and patterns with friends. • This could be adapted to hand prints too, using paint instead.

Natural Energy Resources – Food & Nutrition/Cooking I put this one in because I’ve just had some for lunch and it was delicious! Kay Vegetable Soup- fit (& Healthy) for All! What’s needed: • A selection of vegetables- I used: Carrots, potatoes, dried lentils, sweet potatoes. • A litre of vegetable stock • Salt & pepper to taste, bay leaves (add personal choices of spices if you like) • A large saucepan What to Do:

• Peel and cut vegetables into chunks. • Add the stock and seasoning and bring to the boil. • Add the lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes- until all ingredients are soft.

• Use a liquidiser to smooth it all out to whatever consistency required. Enjoy!

Issue 78 Summer 2009

Teenage Chillout Happy twenty first birthday to Johanna de Haas! Readers will have read about Johanna over the years, in Information Exchange. She also has a book written by her mum, with her input – all about different ways of communicating with her, and other special people. A couple of years ago she was diagnosed with leukaemia and after a very worrying time for Johanna and her family, has been give the all clear from hospital. Here she is celebrating her twenty first birthday – in style and with a lot of energy! Also 'happy birthday' to her sister Bethan – who reached the age of eighteen years old recently.

All about us

Reading Posters

This CD and its accompanying teaching pack have been produced for teachers and school nurses by the Family Planning Association. It aims to provide explicit and effective sex education for teenagers with learning difficulties. A demo can be viewed at

Four new posters showing wrestlers enjoying reading have been launched by the National Literacy Trust’s Reading Champions initiative. Available (one set per school), while stocks last from:

Issue 78 Summer 2009


The Summer ‘End of the Pier’ Show THEME Summer

STARTER • The audience queues outside the pier entrance • Ticket are collected and people are taken to their seats • The audience settles into the chairs set in front of the stage curtains • Candy floss is on sale • Popcorn and ice cream served by the ice cream vendor MAIN COURSE • Music plays – “I do like to be beside the seaside” • The curtains open, the spotlight illuminates the compere of the seaside show • The following acts are suggestions – you should tailor your performances to your group’s abilities. • The compere announces the show and introduces the first act. Magician and Spangled Assistant. The 2 stagehands drop the curtain. The music starts - Phil Kelsall track 3. The magician proceeds to pull miles of scarves from his sleeve helped by his spangly assistant Compere announces disappearing trick (drum roll if you can). Spangly assistant stands backstage behind 2 sheets held up by 4 stagehands. Magician utters the magic words only one sheet is dropped ‘she’s not there!’ Sheet comes back up, more magic words now both sheets are dropped and there she is. There is lots of build up from compere, and encouragement for applause

CURTAIN Compere thanks and introduces next act: Seaside Singer mimes to a song and everyone sings along with lots of encouragement from the compere. There is applause at the end of each song

CURTAIN The Compere introduces: “The Laughing Policeman” who mimes to the laughing policeman song. He does a simple dance, steps forward and back and side-to-side. During the laughing he just stands and laughs. Audience can join in. The Compere thanks the jolly policeman as he bows to the applause

CURTAIN Compere announces The Living Train driver with train sounds. Green flags. Fog machine (dry ice). To the music “The Runaway Train”, performer uses communicator at random, plenty of smoke.

CURTAIN Performer in trench coat to music Jake the Peg by Rolf Harris. During verse try to be ready to dance to the chorus (just a little walking up and down dance). During verses adjust leg; drop leg hat falls off, any funny touches that can be included. Music Phil Kelsall track 17 The Entertainer buys costume or just a hat with help or not starts spinning the hat (any hat) on a stick and passes it to someone in the audience to keep it going. Compere encourages the audience to do their bit and keep the hat spinning. The performer passes as many hats, spinning, as he can.


Issue 78 Summer 2009

The Summer ‘End of the Pier’ Show Compere now finishes the show with much applause for the grand finale line up. “I do like to be beside the seaside” plays as the audience eats popcorn or candyfloss

DESSERT Set up a Punch and Judy Show for the audience to enjoy after the show.

MEAL PLANNER PREPARATIONS • Set up music centre for selected CDs • Set up the stage and auditorium (use your own stage – if you have one)

HOW TO MAKE The Stage Use fabric curtains, glitter curtains, spotlights and flashing lights Have a backcloth of stripes for the seaside tent effect Jake’s Leg Pair of trousers similar to the performers. Put on leg of the trousers inside the other and put through a roll of cardboard, bend the end of the cardboard into the foot of a boot with laces. Tie the lace to the cardboard and let the trousers flop over the boot at bit. This can’t be the only way – have a go.


RESOURCES Stage makeup Microphone Entertainers Outfits Compere – bow tie Magician – cloak and top hat Spangly assistant – bejewelled wraps and lots of spangly jewellery and feathers Singers – glittery fabrics Policeman’s helmet and truncheon Jake the Peg – long overcoat and false leg Clown costume

“Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside” Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside I do like to be beside the sea I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom Where the brass bands play Tiddley-om-pom-pom! So just let me be beside the seaside, I’ll be beside myself with glee; And there’s lots of girls besides I should like to be beside Beside the seaside, beside the sea. (Words by – John A. Glover-Kind)



“Beside The Sea” – organ music by Phil Kelsall “Jake The Peg” and “The Laughing Policeman” from “The Children’s Classics Collection” (HMV)

Geography Drama Music Science

Taken from 'A feast of music' written by Diana Haylor, Sue Bradshaw with Flo Longhorn – further details contact or call 0845 127 5281

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Electronic exchange Including Me: Managing Complex Health Needs in Schools and Early Years Settings

A Blast from the Past Roger Wilson-Hinds of CIC writes:

Published in November 2005 by the Council for Disabled Children and Department for Education and Skills. Downloadable from

At last, we have got the first version of our software options up on the web. There is a selection of goodies, games, music, bright moving colours, an easy-to-use calendar/diary and …. Well take a look and listen for yourselves. Software is never finished. Always a work in progress; so expect some challenges but we hope it is pretty good for a start.


The website is

The presentations from ‘Research into Practice’ – The National Autistic Society Conference, that took place in September 2008, can be downloaded from the NAS website at

We welcome feedback to and have plans to grow the website if it attracts supporters.

Having a break: good practice in short breaks for families with children who have complex health needs and disabilities This publication aims to identify good practice in providing short breaks for disabled youngsters. rg14/index.asp or

Swimming Programme The STA (Swimming Teachers Association) has launched a new water safety programme aimed at those with disabilities. Called the Penguin Series it was developed with support from special schools.

Planet X

Stress Relief A step forward for stress relief: a punching bag that, as you punch it harder and harder, turns from deep red to yellow to white. Paste a banker’s mugshot on it, and voila! Instant payback.

Planet X is a fun, tactile and interactive installation space, which is designed to delighted children and young students. It uses light sound colour and texture to stimulate the senses. There are exciting areas to explore with interactive gadgets ~with a theme of space travel and alien planets. These sessions are set up in various parts of the country and the cost is £1 on the door. The group is based in London. The website looks very interesting For further information contact or telephone 020 8964 5060 (note from the editor ~if you have been to one of these sessions , please let me have some feedback!)


Issue 78 Summer 2009

Electronic exchange

Abnormally Funny People 18 March 8pm 020 7478 0100 |

RNIB Workshop All Aboard: how teaching assistants can promote the learning and participation of blind and partially sighted children. Teaching assistants play a key role in ensuring that children with visual impairment are fully included in the educational and social life of their school setting. These two professional development events provide 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: Mainstream – Thursday 19 November 2009 – Venue: Together Trust, Stockport All Aboard: Special – Tuesday 2 February 2010 – Venue: Friends’ House, London

For further details: email or Tel: 0121 665 4235

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Conferences and Courses


Issue 78 Summer 2009

Conferences and Courses A New Way of Learning Advanced Skills in Teaching Pupils with a Multi Sensory Impairment, BTEC Level 3 This exciting new venture was born out of the recognition of the training needs of staff already working with pupils with a multi sensory impairment at Claremont School, in Bristol. The staff were frustrated by attending courses only to find they were seldom relevant to the pupils they support, were often limited and not accredited. The Claremont Training team worked with Akamas to provide this new online level 3 BTEC certificate. The course is delivered and assessed online therefore giving the student complete freedom to study around work and family commitments. The course was written by and is tutored by teachers who are qualified MSI teachers

‘The online site is very easy to navigate, the content is well laid out. I have found the course content interesting and relevant to my work in a special school’ Julie Bussell, pictured above. The online forum allows you the opportunity to liaise with others in similar roles, share ideas and good practice. The course may be started at any point in the year and candidates have 2 years to complete the training. The course costs £750, which includes registration to Edexcel. For further information contact: Joy Kelly 0117 35 33622 or email

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Book Reviews SEN in Inclusive Primary Classrooms by Richard Rose and Marie Howley

This book draws on recent research into the education of pupils with SEN to provide practical examples and advice on how to meet the challenges of teaching and learning in an inclusive classroom. There is advice on building positive attitudes, developing teaching strategies and adapting a personalised approach to teaching. Each chapter has a similar format, providing relevant case studies, key questions to ask and issues for further thought. They cover: • Becoming an inclusive teacher • Pupils who give cause for concern • Teaching and learning styles • Creating an inclusive environment • Learning from pupils • Beyond school • Developing further as a professional

Spring Flowers and Seeds

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle Originally published in 1970, this poetic but simple text about the life cycle of plants has lost none of its appeal. The collage-style illustration could also be used to inspire art sessions with children. Picture Puffin Price: £5.99

The Little Book of Growing Things by Sally Featherstone

This handy spiral-bound guide is packed with simple, fun gardening activities that are linked to the new Early Years Foundation Stage.

Paul Chapman Publishing Price: £14.99

Published by Featherstone Education Price: £7.99

Child Development

Big Yellow Sunflower by Frances Barry

The hugely popular Nursery World pull-out series ‘Child Development: your guide to the first five years’ by Maria Robinson is now available to buy as a resource pack. Themes in the ten-part series include emotional development, relationships, memory, language and behaviour.

From seed to sunflower in seven steps – the book literally grows with the story as each page folds out to reveal more petals, until the sunflower is complete. Simple, rhythmic sentences and brightly coloured insects and animals will help maintain the interest of readers.

Price: £8.99 Available online from: Tel: 08451 557355

Alphabet Kids – From ADD to Sellwegger Syndrome by Robbie Woliver Understanding the myriad of medical conditions that nursery children can be diagnosed with can be a tough task for practitioners. This book aims to provide concise information on 70 childhood disorders – their causes, cures, treatments and prognosis. The guide will help you to support parents and point them towards correct diagnosis and effective treatment. Price: £22.50 Available from: Jessica Kingsley 30

Published by Tango Books Price: £10.99

The Little Book of Discovery Bottles This book has separate sections dealing with babies, toddlers and older children, and suggests how you can make a range of bottles to appeal to each age group, by adding simple materials, colours, flavours and smells, to stimulate all the senses. The use of simple sound makers, coloured water, natural objects, small world figures, sand, glue, string, glitter and sequins are among the many exciting suggestions for you to use to interest and inspire babies and children. Older children can explore these materials unaided as they initiate their own ideas for new bottles. Available from: or call Macmillan Distribution on: 01256 302688

Issue 78 Summer 2009

Book Reviews '

Counting with Wayne Thiedaud with Susan Goldman Rubin

Mix up art by Herve Tullet

A zany counting book that Les Staves (of numeracy fame) would really enjoy! The counting objects are zany and fun such as the two ice creams on the cover. Printed on sturdy card and in a small hand friendly size.

The excellent books written by Herve Tullet

How about counting six candy apples?

This range of well-illustrated books is suitable across the age range. They are produced on card pages and are a nice size to fit into any reader's hands. There are no words but the illustrations say it all. They are colourful and imaginative, very often in an abstract form, which is visually very appealing. The nicest part is that many of the pages are cut into a variety of shapes and holes, adding the dimension of interesting exploratory touch and a three D dimension for searching eyes to follow.

Gallop! by Rufus Butler Seder This book is by a different author named Rufus Butler Seder. He has produced a book called the scanimation picture book – and is an eye popper for every reader. It is a visual eye stunner as each page actually contains a moving object, such as a horse, when it is moved slightly.

Carnival of colours by Herve Tullet

It is such a mysterious and magical book to read, that I guarantee everyone will read it to the last page – found in Sainsbury’s.

New books about synesthesia Synesthesia is when the sensory systems behave in the most unexpected ways! The frog who croaked blue: synesthesia and the mixing of the senses by Jamie Ward (2008) "Jamie Ward's exploration and research into the little-understood but totally fascinating world of synesthesia is invaluable, and his relentless passion for the topic has helped raise its profile in the public consciousness. "The Frog Who Croaked Blue" expertly details his research work to date and the book is a fascinating and enjoyable read into a different world." – Heston Blumenthal, chef and owner of "The Fat Duck", named Best Restaurant in the World in 2005 by Restaurant magazine. The man who mistook his wife for his hat by Oliver Sachs – Picador Press A fascinating read about people with the most unusual of sensory conditions. The man who tasted shapes by Richard. E.Cytowic He explores synesthesia through emotions instead of reason.

Issue 78 Summer 2009


Information Exchange - Summer 2009  

Information Exchange magazine - Issue 78 - Summer 2009

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