Special Education and Inclusive Learning

Top SEND NQT Tips from #TeamSend #FlipTheNarrative

Flipping the Narrative on Special Educational; Needs and Disabilities.

Collated by the inspirational Elly Chapple (visit her site CanDoElla here) this list of top tips for NQTs and those working in education is essential reading. It features contributions from top educational authors, teachers, parents, SENCOs, school governors and caring passionate people. All of the people who contributed have lived the ethos of seeing the child as a human, not a label and going above and beyond to ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect. It is essential these values are passed to the next generations to educators to ensure the needs of all children are met.

Elly chapple website

Free NQT tips e-Book/PDF

Elly asked me to collate this twitter thread. It would be great to get it into the hands of as many NQTs as possible. Download and print your own copy using the link above (PDF). I have embedded the tweets in order below. I have to say the tweet that hit home the most was from Hayley Goleniowska. “Believe in my child. She isn’t an inconvenience!”

Believe in my child. She isn't an inconvenience! @DownsSideUp Read the #TeamSend Top Tips for #NQTs https://inclusiveteach.com/2019/08/05/top-send-nqt-tips-from/ Click To Tweet
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The Tweets

Further Reading – Contributors Sites

I have included sites for all those who contributed to this list of top NQT tips who have a link in their twitter bio. Please message me if I have missed anyone. I hope you find their books and resources useful. I know I have.

Dr Sara Ryan – MyDaftlife

Matt Young – UK Pastoral Chat

Claire Grosvenor – CG associates

Barney Angliss – ADLZ Insight

Dr Tim O’Brien – Author Page

Nancy Gedge – Not So Ordinary Diary

Joanna Grace – The Sensory Projects

Jules Daulby – Contact Page

Nina Jackson – Teach Learn Create

Joe White – InclusiveTeach

Hayley Goleniowska – Down Side Up

Sally Phillips – IMDB listing

Claire R – Chatterpack UK (Great SEND monthly newsletter)

Pancake Puns – The Tetra Pod

Helen Weston – 2 Tubies

Sarah Dove – Phoenix |education Consultancy

Head For Nothing – Thoughts of a headteacher

Above all else show that you care, you are on their side. Be their champion! @mrsElParker Click To Tweet

Hand over Hand VS Hand Under Hand Support

The use of physical prompts which includes hand over hand and hand under hand is widespread and accepted practice. This includes but is not limited to, pupils with a range of disabilities including PMLD, SLD, and visual impairment.  Described by VanDijk (1966) as forming part of a set of teaching strategies for supporting deaf-blind children that he describes as “Co-active movement”. Hand over or hand under hand can be part of a taxonomy of development. A way to progress the pupil’s development. The initial idea is that the physical prompt will elicit a response from the child that indicates they want to continue with the activity. This should lead to the child developing the desired skill. With the aim that the child will duplicate the movement without adult support.  

Hand Over Hand: A Physical Support

With pupils who do not have complex physical or visual needs, there are other types of instruction, verbal, pictorial, modelled that can be used. Only when these have proven ineffective should a physical prompt be used. This may be as a prompt to attend to the task, or a full task completed with physical support.

There are ethical considerations to this coercive practice especially if used when a pupil can’t or won’t follow instructions. It is worth considering that autistic pupils will quickly become used to that task being completed with Hand-over-hand support. This routine may be hard to move away from (Prompt fade). It is likely that the child is not learning how to do something but just aware their hand is being manipulated. If you constantly initiate an activity physically the child is not learning how to start, undertake or complete the task. You are. We must not teach our pupils that they must comply with the physical manipulation of adults. This directly contravenes our safeguarding systems and RSE curriculum intent.

Choosing an appropriate prompt strategy

When choosing the strategy to use it is essential to identify the problem we are trying to solve and decide our plan and how to implement it including outlining both the pupil and adult’s roles. 

Suggestions to try before physical prompting.

  • Receptive language barrier to instructions – Simple visual breakdown of steps. For a colour sorting activity use an image of the completed activity. Build a tower – three images adding a block each time. Use the blue peter “here’s one I made earlier” approach. Show a completed tower or jigsaw.
  • Starting an activity – Initiate the activity by making sure the task and expectations are clear. For mark-making have the paper on the table and hand the child the pencil. You can fade the prompt over time until the child picks up the pencil. If they have a favourite colour use that pencil. If they find a pencil too thin to hold, adapt it with putty or foam.
  • Pupil won’t engage with a planned learning task – Use their interests. If a pupil likes cars then attach a crayon to the car and drive it around the paper. If they are motivated by water play use a container of water to drop tokens in when counting.
  • Pupil will not sit – I have found that pupils are more likely to sit if the adults are sitting. There are a range of cushions and wedges that make the seat more comfortable. Regular movement breaks are important for those who have energy to spare. 

Levels of Support

This model by Layton et al (2013) reinforces the appropriate level of support to allow children with multi-sensory impairments to access their environments.

  • Anticipation – the use of routines to allow children to anticipate events
  • Co-Active Movement – Hand over/under hand can provide stimulus for a child to explore when child and adult conduct a task together. i.e washing hands. 
  • Deferred imitation – This is when the child imitates an adults movements after a period of time.
  • Natural gestures – spontaneous communication i.e pulling an adult, taping arm for attention.

With pupils who do not physically need this level of support it might be more appropriate to initially use the strategies outlined by Wheeler (1997).  The first stage of this is creating a predictable routine that allows for anticipation of a sequence of events. We would reinforce this both through consistent practice every day and visual reinforcement through a tangible visual schedule. 

Hand over hand Vs Hand Under Hand and the development of trust

The development of trust through positive touch (known as resonance activities) is the base of this – this should be appropriate and take into account the pupil’s sensory profile but could include a touch on the arm or shoulder, a hug if they are upset. This moves onto coactive movements, this may mean the adult and child sharing an activity, in playing with toy cars the adult models how to push the car, the key element is interacting with the environment together. We are assisting the pupil to interact with their environment with the aim of developing independence. Unless pupils are visually impaired or cannot attend to a joint attention activity there should be no need for physical touch. An adult modeling an activity or gesture should be attempted first. This may include holding a hand out flat when a child wants something or wants to give them something.

Hand over Hand Guidance involves the adult manipulating the child’s hands. In the example below the adult is guiding the child to mark-make. Hand-under-hand may be more appropriate who resist this level of manipulation or are tactile defensive. In this approach, the child experiences the activity through you. This has the benefit of allowing the child to feel more in control, for our pupils the ethos of creating a nurturing environment with positive relationships will over time create a more effective route to independence than a coercive environment.

hand under hand and hand over hand example image
Taken from Cook 2016

Levels of support and fading hand over hand support

Chen et al (2000) outline three approaches to the methods of guidance:

  1. The adult may rest a hand underneath the child and wait for the child to initiate an interaction.
  2. Place the child’s hand on the adults while the adult manipulates an object.
  3. The adult gradually withdraws their hand until the child’s fingers touch the object.

Depending on the purpose of the support we may change our approach throughout the activity. Hand under hand moves to hand over hand as the child starts to leads the interaction. Hand next to hand may be used if the pupil can imitate. The more motivating the activity the less support will be required. McInnes and Treffry (In McLinden et all 2016) summarise the adult role during each stage of interaction. The purpose of adult support here is to minimise barriers to learning. Again the basis of this is a positive relationship where the pupil feels comfortable with adult interactions

Our aim is to use the least amount of support through adapting our approach, environment, and resources rather than relying on physical assistance. This is to reduce the number of adult interactions, demands, and verbal instructions in the classroom. This should increase the time allowed for the pupil to process and practice the task. Routine reduces stress for all by reducing the cognitive load for staff and pupils. The table below from Cook et al (2016) gives a range of examples of adaptations around snack and lunch that can be applied in any classroom. 

To sum up we should use hand under hand whenever possible as it is more respectful to the pupil and builds trust. It is less intrusive and coercive. We ensure the pupil maintains control and provides autonomy leading to more effective learning. 

References

Chen, D., & Haney, M. (1999). Promoting Learning through Active Interaction. Project PLAI. Final Report. Online

Cook, R. E., Richardson-Gibbs, A. M., Nielsen, L. (2016). Strategies for Including Children with Special Needs in Early Childhood Settings. United States: Cengage Learning.

Layton, L., Tilstone, C., Williams, A., Morgan, J., Anderson, A., Gerrish, R. (2013). Child Development and Teaching Pupils with Special Educational Needs. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Mccall, S., Mclinden, M. (2016). Learning Through Touch: Supporting Children with Visual Impairments and Additional Difficulties. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Wheeler, L., & Griffin, H. (1997). A Movement-Based Approach to Language Development in Children Who are Deaf-Blind. American Annals of the Deaf, 142(5), 387-390. Retrieved July 6, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44392539

Creating the School of Joy

How can we create a school every child enjoys attending? This was the premise of the #SENexchange discussion on the 2nd June 2021. Below is a write-up of the discussion about creating the school of joy. You might also enjoy reading this book by Action Jackson. Whilst not SEN specific the book captures the ethos of this discussion. The following graphic taken from the Happy school manifesto is useful for visualising the process. He very much focusses on the whole school community whereas this SENexchange looked at the children only. So let’s have a look at what the contributors thought would be effective in creating a school of Joy for children with SEN.

The route to happiness (Action Jackson)

What brings you or your child joy?

What brings you or your child joy?
  • The beach – Rachel
  • Outdoor Learning – The freedom, the risk taking ‘safely’ – no rules as such. Exploration and enjoyment. No pressure. – Teach PMLD
  • Play – Georgina D
  • Choice is a huge factor. I was in a classroom today where the students could pick what type of movement activity to start the day with. They all voted for a dance from go noodle and they were so excited and focused once it started. – Chris Moore
  • Trampolining, climbing, swimming, but most of all being outdoors – Rachel Bohannan
  • Sensory play.
  • Nature
  • Physical activity
  • Music
  • It can be really effective just to recognise the child’s attempts to communicate, however they do it.
  • Show the child you value them, this will increase their enjoyment of anything.

Which activities at school currently bring the most joy to the day?

Which activities at school currently bring the most joy?
  • Students really enjoying time with their friends
  • Play
  • Forest school, learning in the community again etc.
  • It’s amazing to be planning things like proms / sports days again
  • Dance therapy, music, soft play, forest school, sensory story, rhythm and rhyme

How can we ensure school is a place of joy for all children?

How can we ensure all
Children enjoy school?

The opportunity to play can bring the most joy, to explore in their own time and space. Often forgotten in this catch-up narrative. In general and particularly in mainstream education that we need to get better at valuing play and increasing play at school. We also need to recognise and celebrate the different ways of playing I.e. autistic children lining up cars. (Susan Griffiths)

I think stepping back and really observing students…how they engage with activities/resources / stimuli….what motivates them….personalisation…1 size fits 1 (Alistair)

Communicating with parents to learn about each child’s strengths, interests and motivators. Being able to incorporate or reference these in activities and daily routines can help children to feel kept in mind and valued – Dr Chris Moore

Listen to them. Be there for them. Create safe boundaries & have fun!

Celebrating every little success, sharing interests and sense of humour, keeping that sense of fun alive

Make everything accessible

What are the highest impact interventions to facilitate enjoyment of education?

What are the highest impact interventions to facilitate enjoyment of education?

Storytelling with props and sensory resources is a really powerful way to engage children in a joyful lesson

By using the child’s interests Yep yep yep! Interests are often the way in and can be shared with peers to encourage friendships and shared experiences

Sensory play, outdoor learning, animal therapy, choice, flexible approaches, intensive interaction, creative activities – Ms Barnsley

Intensive interaction, Sherborne and TacPac

Trusted relationships, consistency, listening, reflection and doing ‘with’ not to, or for. (Elly Chapple)

Accounts, Resources and Ideas to create the school of joy.

Share resources accounts and links that bring joy to school

Whole School SEND

The SEN resources blog.

@jo3grace @lesstaves @PeterImray @Lorrainep1957

@TeachPMLD’s Light up mouthguard

My thanks to the SENexchange community without whom there would be no discussion. If you are on twitter look us up! If I have missed your contribution or not credited your input just DM me!

Three Transport Books for Children 2-4

These three transport-themed books are firm favourites in our household. Vehicles and transport are always popular themes from Early Years to Journey planning in secondary school. Have a look at my transport-themed teaching resources. These have been chosen as they passed the test of holding the attention of our younger children. They are good quality and well-made books. although each transport book is quite different we can recommend them all.

Transport books for early years. Car, car, truck, jeep

Transport Book 1: Car, Car, Truck, Jeep

Car, car, truck, jeep is designed for the youngest readers and contains colourful images. It is written in the style of Baa Baa Black Sheep so the children can really get into the rhythm of the book. It is also the shortest and printed on thick card pages for younger hands.

Buy the book here.

car, car, truck jeep transport book for young children 4 vehicles at a garage

First Hundred Machines

first hundred machines transport book and toy digger early literacy

Lots of types of vehicles in this transport themed book. We enjoyed finding the corresponding toy car from the box (some of these are mine from 40 years ago so we have a few). There is a lift the flap page at the end which the boy enjoyed.

Different vehicles pointing in child’s book. Drawn illustrations of emergency vehicles

Prompt questions on each page allow discussions about the vehicles. But the book “First hundred machines” here.

Lift the flap children’s vehicle book for eyfs. Child’s hand opening flap

Look, there’s a submarine!

A great little book. Lots of familiar elements from under the sea for children to explore.

Looks there’s a submarine transport book front cover children’s board book teaching

Buy the transport book “Look there’s a submarine” Here.

Fish and sea turtles baby book

We would love to hear what your child’s favourite transport themed books are. Let us know in the comments.

Child with three books on transport themed rug eyfs

Nurturing Narrative: Games and Literacy

Nurturing Narrative Project

I was recently talking to our speech therapist about a project I was involved with in 2011. This was with Tim Ryland who has sadly passed away. The Nurturing narrative event was held in partnership with the Kent CAT (Communication and Assistive Technology Team). I looked it up to find that the website (TimRylands.com) was now down. Fortunately I retrieved this blog from a web cache. I hope no one objects to me posting it but working with Tim did have a profound effect on my practice. The Nurturing Narrative project is still relevant today. Maybe even more so with the prolific use of devices and gamification in education.

There are many modern games and apps that exist in a similar Niche to Myst. Tim used Myst not as a game but as an immersive environment for pupils to explore. This would bring out their imagination and was a way to unlock interest and vocabulary outside of traditional speech and language/literacy techniques.

Whilst Myst itself is now unavailable a new VR version is due to be released soon. However other games such as the Museum/discovery mode of Assassin’s Creed could also work. If you have the game it is accessed from the main menu.

Myst gamification nurturing narrative literacy cover
The Original Myst cover

The original Tim Ryland blog on Nurturing Narrative

Day two of the “Nurturing Narrative Event” here in Kent. Today, we had the joy of working alongside staff, and students, from Stone Bay School,  Broadstairs, Kent.

ICT to Inspire Tim Rylands
The Original Art from Tim’s Blog

And… Wow! What a superb experience! The Kent SEN ICT crew, are a remarkable bunch. In the run up to this event, we have had a lot of Skype calls and “virtual meetings” to build resources, support materials, and some delightful tactile stimuli, such as plants, magnifying globes, and even a balloon containing a mysterious fish like creature. These really added to the buzz of communication in the room. 

Joe White, a teacher at Stone Bay, recorded his thoughts on the nurturing narrative day:

The most striking aspect of the morning sessions was witnessing the engagement of the students increase within the first 10 minutes. From slouched and surly in one or two cases, to leaning forward, participating and demonstrating their ideas. It was clear that the focus of the students moved from the screen to their own ideas and a need to show, and state, what their thoughts and ideas were.

Joe White (2011)

The students didn’t seem concerned about the unusual setting, or busy room, filled with strange faces. They saw the image on the screen and seemed interested. It had not been explained to them what would be occurring in the sessions. This meant they weren’t under the pressure of living up to an expectation. They weren’t aware what they supposed to be achieving and nothing was asked of them above being in the room.

Autism Myst Literacy

I don’t know if this gave the session a different atmosphere to a “lesson” but no negative behaviours were shown, the students were focused on either Tim or the screen from the start. Despite the distractions of cameras and flashes the student’s focus was totally on the front, whether that was their peers or Tim using “the rat” (wireless mouse) and discussing their thoughts.

Working Together To Enhance Communication

It is inspiring to see how the students and staff worked together to get the ideas recorded in a variety of mediums. I believe all the students would have been motivated to stay for even longer and develop their ideas further. There was barely a quiet moment before a response was either coaxed by or more often thrown into the centre.


The students benefited greatly from the open forum style of the session which allowed any comment to be relevant and taken aboard. At times the students were prompting each other and feeding off each others ideas. This boosted their confidence to put forward their own ideas in whatever context this was. Some felt compelled to stand up and touch the board others shouted ideas out, but there was not one student who remained silent for the session.

Thank you to The TEAM for the past two days! This has been Nurturing Narrative a project to enhance literacy and communication in a special needs school.

web.archive.org/web/20120102032211/http://www.timrylands.com/2010/03/11/stone-bay-school-broadstairs-kent-nurturing-narrative-day-2/

Darwin: Voyage of the Beagle Multi-Sensory Story

Our Charles Darwin: Voyage of the Beagle multi-sensory story was Written for a Key Stage 4 class. To link with the cornerstones topic “Darwin’s Delight”. There is some quite complex vocabulary so this story fits into our stage 5 immersive storytelling band. I wrote this more for SLD pupils than PMLD but you can adapt without too much trouble for individuals.

The cover was drawn by one of the pupils if you wanted to show appreciation please order us something from the wish list – it will be delivered to our school to enhance our sensory storytelling sessions.

Charles Darwin multisensory story pmld beagle explorer animals
Darwin Sensory Story Cover Art

The Darwin: The Voyage of the Beagle Sensory Story is part of our sensory story collection all available to download here for free.

Darwin: The Voyage of the Beagle Sensory Story

On a bustling quayside A ship was ready to sail.
Among all the sailors stood a man at the rail.
He was ready for adventure, to travel the world.
The sleek wooden ship rocked as the sails unfurled.

The ship left Devonport with a following breeze.
The Beagle was off, bravely sailing the seas.
A cold December morning in 1831.
The voyage of discovery had finally begun.

The HMS Beagle a tall masted ship
The captain was reading maps for the trip
The ship kept on rolling, wave after wave
A seasick scientist was trying to be brave

After hard weeks at sea the Beagle saw land
Darwin couldn’t wait to step foot on the sand
The island was an exotic and beautiful sight
With trees and flowers colourful and bright.

There were animals and birds he’d never seen.
The brightest of colours red, purple, green.
They flew through the sky and nested in trees.
Taller than the ship that swayed in the breeze.

On one rocky island, volcanic and serene
Were tortoises older than he’d ever seen
With wrinkly skin and the hardest of shells
They were huge almost the size of church bells

He walked through jungles and rivers and streams.
Seeing sights that were beyond his wildest dreams.
On beaches and mountains he hunted for fossils.
Of ancient beasts that could be described as colossal.

After 5 years the Beagle returned to England
In Darwin’s cabin his collection was crammed
Darwin started writing a world changing Book
About what he discovered on the journey he took

The origin of species, and natural selection.
Theories based on his fantastic collection.
Darwin is famous for the theory of evolution.
This is his greatest scientific contribution.

Example page of Voyage of the Beagle Sensory Story

Download the Free Sensory Story PDF Booklet

Click the button below to download the multi-sensory story as a free PDF booklet for PMLD or SLD learners. Younger children in EYFS may also enjoy it. I would love to hear how you have used it in your classrooms. This story is provided for free but a share would be appreciated! If you want to use it on your school website please link to this page not the file. Thank you.

Suggested Sensory Resources

These should be chosen according the sensory profile or interests of your learners. Depending on the need type, allergies and known aversions you may want to swop these out for other resources.

  • Blue material
  • Canvas material
  • Wood
  • Flower fragrance
  • Exotic fruit
  • Biscuits
  • Maps/large sheets of paper
  • Water spray
  • Large leaves/green paper
  • Tortoise shell effect material
  • Flowers
  • Feathers
  • Seagulls
  • Sea sound effect
  • Quayside sound effect
  • Creaky boat sound effect

On The Origin of Species Illustrated book.

This wonderfully illustrated book based on the origins of species by Charles Darwin is great for getting key facts about evolution across. Retold by Sabina Radeva.

Evolution illustrated childrens book
Charles Darwin origin of the species children's illustrated book

Origin of the species book

Why Awareness About Autism is Important

Why Is Awareness About Autism Important & How Can We Support Autistic Children?

This is a guest post for inclusiveteach.com. Autism is common but as deceptive as a chameleon on the bark of the tree it’s climbing on! You may be autistic, but still be unaware of it owing to the lack of diagnosis or awareness of how differently it presents in people. In fact, people in the early 1900’s were not even aware of it! Interesting right?

Let’s discuss why is it important to spread awareness about autism.

According to some detailed reports by leading newspapers like The Guardian and QS, it was observed that this lack of awareness had a negative impact on those with learning disabilities including autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, language processing disorder, nonverbal learning disabilities, and visual perceptual/visual motor deficit.

Out of these learning disabilities, those with autism were severely affected as there is absolutely no distinction in this category. Autism is in fact a very nuanced disorder, with distinctions that are hard to differentiate from. Hence, before digging deep inside the facts and figures for raising awareness about autism, it is important to first understand what autism is!

What is Autism? 

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a group of neurodevelopmental disorders which are characterized by problems with communication and social interaction. People identified as having this learning disorder can exhibit restricted, stereotyped and repetitive interests or patterns of behavior.

This disorder can be a barrier to learning for some pupils, thus marking them way behind in the education graph corresponding to budding learners. [I would argue changes to the education system could help here – editor]. According to a report titled ‘Countries with the highest rates of autism among children worldwide as of 2020’ (Published by John Eflien, Apr 23, 2020), it was noted that around 222 per 10,000 children in the United States had autism spectrum disorder. One of the highest prevalence rates in the world.

In fact, around 3.63% of boys aged 3 to 17 years had autism spectrum disorder compared to 1.25% of girls. Statista, a prominent statistical website stated that Hong Kong had the highest rate of autism in children with over 372 out of 10,000. This could be a result of better identification or understanding. According to the National Autistic Society, more than 1 in every 100 of the population are autistic. This equates to 700,000 people.

What to Look Out for – Are there “Symptoms”?

To be honest, breaking down the idea of autism on account of its “symptoms” is extremely hard. It is also not fair. There is no distinct pattern to be observed when it comes to a neurological condition. Autistic people can have problems in behaving, communicating, and interacting in social groups. Recently this view that the problem lies with Autistic people is being challenged. Work by Autistic researchers, like Dr Damian Milton who put forward the “Double Empathy problem”, suggests that miscommunication and understanding should be viewed as a two-way issue.

Most of the parents of autistic children, in one study, noticed issues by the time their child reached 12 months, and between 80% and 90% noticed issues by the age of 2 (What are the symptoms of Autism – Rennee A. Allie). Yet there are definitely some common behaviors that are noticed among young children. These can primarily be demarcated on two grounds:

  1. Based on Social Skills: Children with autism tend to show problems with interaction among people, irrespective of them knowing each other. They may want to build cordial relationships with those around them, but they won’t be knowing how to do that. In layman’s terms, a child would crave to be friends with a popular kid in the class, but would rather abstain from it, not because of the lack of confidence, but rather because they would not know how to proceed.

Generally, they would prefer to be alone, avoid eye contact and appear uncomfortable in situations that would usually make a child of a similar age grin. Hence, they would lack standard neurotypical social skills.

  1. Based on Communication Skills:  In terms of effective communication, an autistic child may lag behind their peers. Whilst expressive communication at a word level is comparable other measures such as tonality, facial expressions etc may look different. According to ‘Symptoms of Autism’, a research paper by Renee A. Allie, about 40% of children with autism spectrum disorders don’t talk at all. Around 25%-30% develop some language skills during infancy but then lose them later.

Only after later stages, do some children learn how to talk. It may be worthwhile consulting a professional if you work with children who display a tendency of not understanding sarcasm/jokes, or appear utterly confused to generic questions. These children exhibit delayed response, have issues in using pronouns, and often present echolalia or the tendency to repeat phrases over and over.

Other common patterns of behavior include impulsiveness, fussy eating habits, repetitive behaviors and so on. Children with ASD will have symptoms throughout their lives, but it’s possible for them to get better as they get older with the right set of schooling at the right age.

Are there any causes of Autism?

The question that arises in one’s mind after the diagnosis of Autism is the cause behind it. Over the years, medical sciences have not yet come across a defined root cause of autism.

Student anxiety in the early years of a child can severely affect a child’s social skills and magnify the symptoms of an autistic child, but it cannot be a direct reason to cause it.

Complicated pregnancies, advanced parent age, and pregnancies spaced less than a year apart increase the risk of the child developing autism. But what has to be noted is the fact that these causes stated above increase only the risk of developing autism, and are not to be treated as definite reasons behind the same.

How Can Parents Support an Autistic Child?

We acknowledge that the children suffering from autism need special schooling, then why is it that 71% of them still study in traditional schools? According to the National Autistic Society, the curriculum taught in traditional schools doesn’t cater to the needs of those suffering from these developmental disorders. Reports from major schooling platforms suggest that a customized curriculum and multiple engaging activities could possibly help in meeting the needs of a child with autism, and in coping up with other students on the mental plane. 

Can an autistic child go to mainstream school?

There are countless benefits of mainstream school for autistic students.

At an online school, world class content is available to students at the click of a button in the comfort of their homes. The world is changing and technology is slowly taking over education with innovative and intuitive techniques. Autistic students could possibly benefit from the flexible curriculum system taught by certified teachers from around the world. These teachers are highly trained and skilled in their approach towards dealing with students with different needs.

We must understand that no child is the same, and needs his/her space and the right set of guidance for their holistic development. And to abide by their thoughts, besides instilling the core values of ethics and morality, they sketch out the needs and wants of the children to nurture and hone their talents.

Being true to their vision and commitment, they have students who are performing well in all aspects of life and are proud of building up responsible individuals. The interactive activities and the unique teaching methodology with a good online school assures that every child acquires practical knowledge of the subject he/she is taught, thus ensuring that every child, studies the concepts well.

Line of Duty: The Sensory Story

Mother of God it’s the Line of Duty Sensory Story! No copyright infringement intended (Sorry BBC, please don’t sue) just a bit of fun. I wrote this with older sensory learners in mind. Sometimes sensory stories are not fully age appropriate for adults with PMLD. There is no reason not to engage people based on their interests. There is no real learning intention or knowledge sharing intended in this sensory story. It is purely an attempt to bring a bit of fun to sensory storytelling sessions. If you know someone in a college or day centre setting who would enjoy our Line Of Duty inspired Sensory Story please share! Update! Scroll down to see another Line of Duty Sensory Story written by Carol Thompson who has kindly given permission for it to be shared here.

Sensory Story For Older Learners

For more information about telling sensory stories please read this book by Joanna Grace. This story breaks some of the rules but at inclusiveteach we don’t always conduct ourselves to the letter of the law. With any individual you need to adapt the rules to suit their learning and interaction style. this line no of duty inspired sensory story is not meant as a perfect example – it is just an idea that I hope benefits someone.

Most of our others sensory stories are listed in this post. Please have a look. They are all provided with free PDF booklets. Feel free to adapt depending on what resources you have available or your learners will engage with. The Free PDF of the Line Of Duty inspired sensory story is at the bottom of the page.

Suggested Line of Duty Themed Sensory Resources

Sound Buttons for Sound Effects

Torch with blue filter

Black material, red material/sheet

Small copper tubes or spent casings

Old mobile phone

Police Light

Police hat

Briefcase or bag with printed bank notes

Whisper tube

The Line Of Duty Sensory Story

In AC-12 they hunt bent coppers
The corrupt liars telling whoppers.

The OCG talking on their burner phones
Plotting and hiding things in peoples homes.

There’s been a robbery some men with guns
The criminals have left, they’re on the run.

Kate Fleming, Steve Arnott and Ted Hastings
Are examine the clues, some bullet casings.

The suspect has escaped he knew the plan
There must be a leak, an inside man.

Who’s that with the cash in the boot of his car?
It’s the new detective, quick he won’t get far.

Sirens on! Nice driving, you caught him mate!
But we missed “H” we got here too late.

AC12 Conduct themselves to the letter of the law.
There’s no bent coppers here of that I’m sure.

END

I hope you enjoyed our Line of Duty inspired Free Sensory Story for PMLD or anyone else who may enjoy it! Download the PDF booklet here.

Line of duty sensory story

Carol Thompson’s Line Of Duty Sensory Story!

Find this version on the PMLD Facebook group. Thank you Carol for sharing! 😀

Understanding Dyslexia – How Teachers Can Help

Every child learns differently. They learn to read and write at their own pace. It’s common for kids to struggle when reading and writing at some point or another, and most find strategies to overcome it. But, if you see your child constantly struggling in reading which is making him or her lag behind their peers even after providing special needs tuition—there is the possibility that your child has dyslexia. For those who don’t know what dyslexia is, it a learning disorder. 

Experts estimate that as many as one in five children may have a hard time reading and that 80 to 90 percent of children with learning impediments have dyslexia. Previously experts agreed that dyslexia affects boys more than girls; however, recent studies show that dyslexia affects boys and girls equally. This is a guest post for Inclusiveteach.com by David A. Buhr.

Supporting children with dyslexia

Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is mainly associated with a child’s difficulty in reading. This disorder impedes a child’s ability to recognize and pronounce the words in a language. It is a common learning disorder that affects people of all ages. People with dyslexia may experience difficulty reading or writing words and understanding letters, numbers, and sounds (phonemes). Some dyslexic children overcome this by memorizing the words, but eventually, they’ll struggle to recognize new words and sometimes fail to remember the ones they learned. 

Signs of Dyslexia

A dyslexic young person may struggle to learn simple rhymes, delayed speech, trouble following directions like left and right, repeat short words like ‘the,’ ‘and,’ ‘but,’ and so on. 

In school, children with dyslexia will have it hard to make the sounds of new words, reverse numbers, and letters when reading and find difficulties taking notes and copying from the classroom board. Besides, they struggle with learning rhymes, sequencing sounds, having difficulty spelling common words, and avoid reading aloud in front of classmates. This will have negative implications on the child as he or she will become frustrated or tired from reading and eventually fall behind in the classroom. 

Furthermore, dyslexic children often have troubles outside of school as well. Kids with dyslexia find it difficult to make sense of logos and signs, struggle learning rules of games, telling the time, remembering directions, learning another language, etc. If these are left unaddressed, dyslexic children can become incredibly frustrated, impairing their mood and emotional stability. 

How Teachers Can Help Support Children With

It is widely agreed that children with dyslexia will require additional support in their classrooms, and there are many ways teachers can help them.  

Teachers can start a reading program targeted towards dyslexic students where words are repeated, and new words are introduced gradually. This will allow them to gain confidence and develop their self-esteem during reading. Additionally, teachers should only give students books to read that don’t exceed their skill level. As this can make them frustrated and demotivated. Giving them books at their level will not only make their reading exercise enjoyable, but they can also remember and understand the words they read. 

As dyslexic children avoid reading aloud in front of other students, teachers should reserve this activity between them and the child. Alternatively, teachers should give some pre-selected reading material to them in advance to practice it at home before the actual event. This ensures the child that they can read the material before reading it aloud in front of or with other children. Story or audiobooks are beneficial for enhancing vocabulary skills and teaching students the sounds of the words. 

Children diagnosed with dyslexia should be provided special accommodations in school. These accommodations may include allocating them extra time to complete their tests or exams, a quiet place to work, and permitting them to records lectures or providing them with recorded lectures. Teachers can also arrange special arrangements. These include allowing dyslexic children to give verbal/oral answers in tests instead of written answers, if possible. Other beneficial arrangements may also include exempting them from reading aloud in the class and learning a foreign language. 

Some other proven ways to support a child with dyslexia is encouraging them to participate in activities they like or excel in. It can be sports, music, singing, or anything else that will boost their self-esteem and confidence. Other things that may help include:

  • Listening to audiobooks rather than reading.
  • Typing on a computer or tablet instead of writing on paper.
  • Suggesting them apps or games that can make learning fun.
  • Using a ruler to help them read in a straight line. 

Takeaway

Dyslexia should not be taken a mental disorder or a sign of poor intelligence in a child. It is a barrier that inhibits them from their abilities and achievements. Some children with dyslexia can keep up with their peers during the first few grades in school, but the issue becomes apparent as they advance where they’re required to read quickly and fluently. The strategies discussed above can help them compensate for their weakness and improve academically. 

Author Bio

David A. Buhr has over fifteen years of experience in the field of Education. He specializes writing articles on Education-related topics on his blog. He is presently working at smile tutor, a reputable presence in the education industry.

Advice for using visual timelines with Autistic children

Picturepath visual app

Advice for using visual timelines with ASD children Guest Post

Picturepath visual timeline for autistic children
A child using Picturepath on the iPad

It’s well understood that many children find comfort in routine, and that maintaining routine reduces problem behaviours. Equally visuals, such as PECS cards, and timelines are widely used alongside a strong routine across both home and school to support autistic children. 

A traditional visual timetable

However through my experience both as a parent to a 9 year old autistic child, and through the development of picturepath (and its use across UK schools and over 3500 parents). I’ve had a few realisations that there’s some simple, practical advice that makes a massive difference to the effectiveness of visual timelines. 

I’ve detailed these below, but wanted to note that not all children are the same and their support shouldn’t be either. The advice shared below is a guideline and any changes to your current protocol should be discussed and tested with your child. 

Timelines with choice

Predictable routines are great at providing reassurance, comfort and minimising meltdowns. Building in small choice junctions at certain points throughout the timeline increases the child’s feeling of independence and control. For example instead of reaching a drawing activity and providing a pen and paper, add choice junctions that allow the child to select from a small list of options i.e. the subject – an apple, a cat or a dog, the materials – pencil, marker, crayon and the surface – paper, cardboard, whiteboard. 

Be specific 

Rather than setting aside large blocks of time for broad topics like ‘lunch’ or ‘maths’, break down the activities further into ‘mini-routines’. For example, lunch could be several steps including, Go to the canteen, collect your lunchbox, find a seat, eat sandwich and fruit, go to the toilet, play outside and return to the classroom.  

We’ve found that planning activities a week ahead of time. Including and discussing appointments and other events that are outside of the normal routine works well in reducing anxiety and meltdowns.

Managing change 

Whilst routine is really important we all know that life, despite our best efforts, often throws us curveballs. These unexpected changes can be the most traumatic and challenging times for children on the autistic spectrum.  

During these times it’s important to address the change as soon as it’s known. Using social stories to talk through the change and updating the visual timeline with the child. This is where embracing technology really helps. The speed of change to a digital timeline if a ‘new’ activity needs adding is significantly quicker and easier than having to make, print and laminate a physical symbol. 

For example, you might be set to return from a school trip at 3pm but the bus breaks down and you’re delayed. Adding in a new activity of ‘eye spy’ whilst you’re waiting can be done in just a few taps of the ipad allowing the child to visualise the new plan. Adding extra contact time with the child to provide reassurance and reduce anxiety is also always recommended. 

Another tactic that we’ve found in preparing for the unexpected is to use a ‘?’ symbol frequently in your standard timelines. Wherever you reach the ‘?’ make sure that something fun happens, and provide praise for coping. Helping the child to understand that sometimes unplanned things can be fun and pleasant. This helps to reduce anxiety when they do occur.  

Collaboration is the key

It sounds an obvious one, but frequently there are separate timeline systems being used across home and school and the transitions and inconsistencies between them can cause confusion and anxiety. Again technology helps here, using an online timeline that’s accessible to school, parents, the child, and any other caregivers ensures everyone is aware of the same planned timeline and can notify, edit and update whenever needed. For a child, being able to visualise what is happening after the school day will reduce anxiety around change. 

If transitioning to digital timelines isn’t possible right away, look for opportunities to improve communication between all of the child’s caregivers. Scheduling time to discuss what has and happened that day or week against the timeline is a great opportunity to deepen the relationship between school and home. Consistent communication, feedback, and iterative improvements based on what is and isn’t working is the key to effectively supporting autistic children and their use of visual timelines.  

Picturepath app in use in class
Picturepath app in use during a lesson.

—–

When used correctly visual timelines reduce anxiety, build independence, increase learning, and ease transition. They also help build trust and effective relationships between the child, parents and school.  

I’m passionate about their use and making digital versions as accessible as possible. If you have any questions or would like advice please feel free to reach out to myself at richard@mypicturepath.com.  

Author: Richard Nurse is founder of picturepath, a digital timeline app that supports SENCo’s, teachers and parents to allow their SEN children to thrive at school and home.  

Imposter Syndrome in Education

imposter syndrome education leadership

Imposter syndrome is a really common issue for people in education. I started this website as a reflective blog whilst completing the NPQML leadership course, since then it has evolved into a special education teaching resources and ideas website. Over the last 5 years, over half a million people have visited. I know this is probably what the TES gets in an hour but it amazes me. This is post number 250 on Inclusiveteach.com! Each time I write a post I worry that it is not good enough, no one will read it, and that I am really not qualified to even be putting my ideas out there. This leads me back to the topic of this post. Imposter syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

There are many definitions of imposter syndrome. They all have common features. It is an internal belief that you are not good enough to be doing the role you have. You have somehow been recruited by mistake, maybe you oversold your skills at interview. Many of those in school leadership report they feel about to be “found out”, this could be by the Headteacher, governors, or OFSTED. It is a feeling that you will be tested at some point and you will fail to live up to expectations. There are links to anxiety and low confidence. It is more specifically linked to feeling that others are better than you. Often any successes are put down to luck or cheating in some way and failures are taken to heart as proof.

I meant to write this post last year after reflecting on this twitter exchange with Dr Pooky Knightsmith about her podcast. Life and a new baby prevented that but I thought about it all the time. Why do we feel like this? As professionals with training, qualifications and experience surely we have earned the right to feel secure in our ability.

I can only speak for myself. One of the things that those working in education face daily is the unpredictable nature of the job. There is no one way to do things. Every “expert” differs in their opinion of the best way to educate children. The best way to support mental health and how to manage behaviour. If you have ever been observed you will no doubt have received conflicting feedback,. One observer wanting something, you implement it and at some other point that is picked up as an area to improve.

Every child is unique and requires a nuanced approach. I can honestly say I don’t get it right all the time. I don’t have the answers people want and can only support through a process. Schools I have worked in feel like they are in a constant state of evolution. No one stands still. There is rightly a quest to improve, even if things are good. When you are surrounded by other professionals it is hard not to compare yourself and your practice. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, or imposter syndrome. An architect may have a fantastic building to show off. A teacher’s successes are less tangible and often captured in the hearts and minds of children.

So what can I do about Imposter Syndrome?

There are plenty of articles and blogs seeking to provide an answer as to what you should do to overcome Imposter Syndrome. Here are the things I try and that sometimes work.

  • Keep your CV and personal statement up to date. This allows you to capture your successes and reflect on what you are achieving. What projects have you completed, what strategies are you using that have a positive impact? Write these down – they are you implementing effective projects and ideas, building your skyscraper.
  • Keep your head down and teach. I am a big fan of twitter for CPD and sharing ideas but it is sometimes hard to realise that people are curating their best bits. It can be so difficult not to compare your lessons with their flashy Knowledge organisers and dual coded fact sheets (Which I do like this is not a dig). Teachers can often try and be all things to all people, a teacher, a counsellor a graphic designer, an artist, storyteller and public speaker. Sometimes you just need to step out of the swirling morass and do your own thing.
  • Challenge your self – set a goal and focus on that. For example, you will aim to be a great mentor to a younger teacher. Not the best you don’t need to be – and that is subjective. Make one small difference and capture it.
  • Say no – It is easy in schools to take on too much and dilute your passions with other people’s interests or priorities. If you are feeling overwhelmed try to cut the extra bits. Do you need to be on that working party or in the school play?
  • Accept other people feel like this. This podcast (below) with Line of Duty’s Adrian Dunbar is enlightening, he talks about feeling like an outsider.

The SEND Interview Teaching Activity

SEN interview teaching activities hints and tips

Our recruitment and interview process posts are very popular. However we haven’t talked about the teaching interview activity. One of the questions we get asked is around the teaching side of the interview process. Candidates for teaching positions almost always have to demonstrate their teaching skills through an observed teaching activity. During the interview process for SEN teaching positions, this is usually between 15 and 30 minutes. If you are applying for a leadership position in a Special school you may be asked to observe a lesson and give feedback to a panel. During the current Coronavirus pandemic, these interview activities and lesson observations are often done remotely. As if it wasn’t stressful enough!

The short amount of time you get to teach a small group of unfamiliar children is a challenge. I have found that the explanation of the children’s additional needs is limited. I hope the tips for successful interview teaching activities below will help. Please consider sharing this page if you find it useful.

Great SEN Teaching Interview Activities

Before you start I recommend you plan and structure the session to make sure great teaching is at the core. Yes there needs to be learning but it is your teaching under observation. This applies to whatever length of the session or pupil needs cohort. Start with the Sutton Trust Report on great teaching. The benefit of using this is you can use it during the interview if you are asked about your lesson. SLT love research-based practice. Or they should!

Plan and structure the session to make sure great teaching is at the core Click To Tweet

Here is a summary of the key findings that you can apply in your interview activity:

  • Show your content knowledge.
  • Show you understand how students think about a subject. What are their experiences of it?
  • Identify any common misconceptions
  • Use high-quality instruction, include strategies like effective questioning and a way for all pupils to answer.
  • Assess where the pupils are and respond, this flags your assessment to the observer.
  • asking questions throughout and checking/acknowledging the responses of all pupils.
  • Finish with a knowledge check of some sort. Embed a key fact or skill.
  • Use praise only when appropriate and be specific about what they did. No “Good Job!”
  • Avoid grouping pupils by ability – try to ensure pupils have a communicative partner in the interview activity.
Great teaching interview activity guide
Sutton Trust – Great Teaching.

Pre-interview Research

You need to gather as much information as possible during the recruitment process. Knowledge of the context of the interview and teaching activities is essential in creating an effective interview activity session. If you do a pre-interview visit try and note the following things. If you do not get to visit phone up and ask.

Are there schedules in the classrooms, what do the pupils have on their desks? Now and Next boards and visual schedules are common. What symbols do the school use – Widgit, Boardmaker, Twinkl? Do the school prefer symbols or photos in their visuals? Are the words below or above the images? Try and ensure your visuals are as similar as possible – if not you can explain why, they won’t expect perfection as you may not have the software but it looks good if you acknowledge you have noticed.

Does the school use Makaton, PECS or other recognised systems? If so brush up on a few key signs. If you are unsure you can always ask the pupils to show you during the interview activity. The school website should provide this information. If there are photos on the website have a look at the details. Do the staff have symbol key rings or on lanyards etc. If there are visually impaired pupils can you find out what format their work is presented in?

Encourage pupil voice wherever possible. Look for the disengaged pupil and find a way to encourage them to interact. Give them a role and show you value them.

Logistics of the Interview Activity.

Time is short and a precious resource. Don’t waste time with the lesson logistics, moving desks, arranging lots of resources. Finding things you need in your bag etc. This also goes for the end of the lesson/ interview activity too much tidy-up time takes away learning time (or direct instruction, interaction time. The pupils might enjoy putting any equipment into your bag for you etc.

Take anything you might need just in case – you don’t want to be scrabbling around or sending people looking for things. The best way is to take as few resources as possible and have them sorted in a box or bag you are familiar with. You can extend the logistics element to ICT equipment. Use the minimum, use only technology you are familiar with and try it beforehand. If you want to use a short video clip or music download it do not presume youtube etc will be available.

If you are doing a video or virtual interview activity make sure the software is fully updated. Familiarise yourself with the software and stop anyone streaming anything in your house before you start. No netflix etc for family!

Teaching Interview Activity Tips

You have about 5 minutes max to introduce yourself and have a positive interaction with each child. Think about how you will learn and remember their names. A quick seating plan sketch you annotate at the beginning may well pay off! The children need to know who you are and the observers need to remember you. Take a “hook” that means they will remember your name. It could be your name written in glitter, an oversized LED name badge, or some other gimmick – but make it a memorable one.

A LED name badge may help the children remember your name. In this case you may not forget a guy called Karen. https://amzn.to/3tohPeB

You only have limited time – this means you should plan an activity to fit into this time, not try to squeeze a long activity into a shorter time frame. You want to appear calm and in control, not rushed or flustered. Keep your pace and communication appropriate. Allow processing time and reduce language, keep it simple and back up with symbols/visuals. A more considered pace shows awareness of the need for meeting sensory needs/ brain/ movement breaks. Even in short teaching activities breaking tasks into small short pieces of learning is a good idea.

Find out immediately how the children initiate conversation and answer questions. Use a generic communication board to allow the children to respond to questioning with vocabulary linked to your lesson plan.

Effective SEN Teaching Activity Ideas

mr potato head activity board

Scavenger hunt – The board above is from our Mr Potato Head activity. You hide the pieces and then build, this uses teamwork and AAC users can take full part.

Storytelling – Read a book and use it to highlight vocabulary or actions. I.e You Choose. What would they choose and why? Can they spell the chosen item, can they categorise it?

Sensory Stories – These can be bespoke to the session or adapted key texts from the topic or curriculum area. Again the school website might help see if the class/year group has a newsletter that tells you the current topic. Have a look at our free Sensory Stories here.

Stories with actions – there are loads of these on youtube. Get the pupils moving. Think about how to encourage those with limited mobility.

Attention Autism – This is a specific intervention designed by Gina Davis. If you haven’t been trained you can use the ideas behind it but don’t call it attention autism unless it is. Try attention bucket, joint attention or topic box as a title for your session. At it’s heart you build anticipation by removing items with a common theme from a container. Some you have control of others are passed around. These should be highly motivating.

What’s in the box? Wrap some boxes containing different sensory stimuli such as bells, beads etc. The pupils can unwrap and use them. This is great for requesting and sharing. They could guess or find uses for each item.

Character description – elements of the Gruffalo for example have tactile resources ready for the pupils to retrieve or find.

Practical task – broken down small steps, maybe building a tower or cake toppings but check allegies first.

For older SEN pupils try a session that focuses on social skills, preparation for adulthood, employability or community inclusion. Create clear step-by-step instructions which indicate the start and end aim. Can they quickly sort and package some products?

We hope this guide is useful. Good luck in your interviews and please add your ideas in the comments below.

SEN interview teaching activities hints and tips

Ways of Making Our Homes Comfortable for Children with Disabilities

If your child has a disability or issues with mobility, it’s important to make the home environment comfortable, safe and accessible. The traditional home layout will not always work. Especially if your child uses a wheelchair. When it comes to modifying the home it’s important to create a space where your child isn’t just safe and comfortable, but also has room to grow, learn, develop and thrive.

But making large-scale renovations to the home can be daunting, especially if it’s the first time you’ve done it. Thankfully there is plenty of help at hand, with online resources and professional support available. Here are some things to consider. 

For Less Mobile Children

If your child uses a wheelchair or has other mobility issues, a home can become a difficult challenge to navigate. Ultimately, as a parent, your goal is not just to make the space accessible, but to make sure your kids’ differences aren’t highlighted at every turn. 

Accessible Entranceways

Your child needs a hassle-free entrance to the home. That means at least one entryway with no steps, and a space large enough to maneuver without a problem, with handrails to help. If the pathway to the house is not gently sloped, a wheelchair ramp must be installed. Sensor lighting is a good idea to make sure the whole area is illuminated. 

Disability Friendly Bathroom

Modern bathrooms are often compact, and extremely difficult for a wheelchair user. If you don’t have a large bathroom there are some modifications to improve things, such as installing a roll/walk-in shower with safe, non-slip seating and grab bars. You’ll need these by the bathtub and toilet as well. Lower the shower controls so that your child can reach them. You basically want the entire bathroom experience to be fully independent. For kids who use wheelchairs make sure there is plenty of space around the toilet – there are specific dimensions to follow

Kitchen

If your child is young they won’t be cooking – though many kids love getting involved in what’s happening in the kitchen. Either way, make sure you have one or more wheelchair height countertops, and adjustable counters to give your child legroom underneath. Again, space is a big issue, so make sure there is plenty of room to turn a wheelchair around in. 

For Children with Visual Impairments

However familiar the environment, not being able to see makes the home a potentially dangerous place. But for a child with a visual impairment, there are plenty of steps you can take in each room in your home. 

Bedroom

A child’s bedroom should be a haven from the world, a space where they can relax, study, dream and exert their individualism. To make sure that it is safe for a child with a visual impairment you should limit the obstructions in the main navigable path. Think carefully about how you lay out the furniture. Electrical cords should be kept out of the way and secured safely. Belongings should be kept organized so that they can be located by feel. Creating a sensory area with soft furnishings, blankets, beads, and beanbags will allow your child to relax and unwind in their bedroom. 

Bathroom

Non-skid surfaces and grab bars are helpful in the bathroom. Non-spilling dispensers for soap and other liquids will reduce the chances of making a mess. These Braille Labels are great for identifying products in the bathroom. Strong lighting and high contrast walls, floors, towels, and bathmats can help some visually impaired children. 

Braille labels for visually impaired children disability

Kitchen

It should be obvious, but sharp, hot, toxic, or corrosive items should be kept safely out of reach. Kids love snacks, so make a designated space to keep some. There are steps you can take to empower your child to feel his or her way around, different textures on various items, or tactile markings on water or juice – this way your child doesn’t have to ask every time they need a drink. 

Living Room

Again, plan where you will put your furniture to make the space as navigable as possible. Low lying items such as tables (and the accompanying items on them) should be removed as they present trip hazards. Make sure everything is kept in a designated place so it can be located by a child with a visual impairment. And don’t forget to secure those electrical/phone cords!

Gardens for Children with Disabilities

There is no better place to soothe the body and mind than in the garden. Kids love to have fun in the garden, but when you are designing, building and planting, make sure it is safe as well as enjoyable – no toxic or spiky plants, secure fences, and well-thought-out materials. For kids who use wheelchairs, making the garden accessible is of utmost importance. Ramps and even ground are functional but can also be factored into the overall design. Kids love touching and smelling plants, so planting safe, sensory species such as lavender, rosemary or lemon balm are excellent ideas. 

Disability Access and Growing Up

It may sound obvious, but it’s important not to forget that your child’s needs will change as they grow. From simple details – the shower seat being able to cope with a heavier body sitting on it, for example – to normal adolescent privacy concerns. You should be prepared to modify your home further to meet the needs of a kid who is growing up fast. 

It can be challenging to modify your house for a child with a disability. But by focusing on their needs – and realizing that those needs will develop and change – the task becomes a little less difficult.

This Guest post on disability adaptations for the home has been written for inclusiveteach.com by Theodora Evans.

All About Me: Resource Review

In SEN one of the most important things is to get to know your pupil. All about me sessions are a generally accepted part of the process. These lessons are often done in September on change of class or on the transition into school. I am a real fan of using tangible resources where possible. This can help to make concepts more concrete for learners. By using physical resources you increase levels of engagement. You might also like our post on making your own Maths Manipulatives.

All about me send resources
All about me set from learning resources

The All About Me Neighborhood Set.

The All about me neighbourhood sorting set from learning resources is brilliant. This is a great resource that is colourful and robust but also simple enough in design to use across a wide age group. The set contains 6 Colorful two-piece houses and 36 All About Me family counters. We also bought the additional people and pets set as we have a household of 7 and many of the families I work with have extended families.

all about me houses and people SEND resource

The houses are strong and the figures can survive a chew. Removable housetops encourage mix-and-match sorting with rainbow-color family members (including a baby and pets). A strong design with imaginative learning through play in mind.

  • Practice greetings “good morning” or a “goodnight,”
  • Use the houses supplied or build your own houses to reflect reality for the child
  • Colour identification
  • Counting
  • Fine motor skills
  • Social and emotional learning

To reinforce these essential early childhood skills and build higher-level thinking, ask follow-up questions during play: “How do you know? What made you think that? How do they feel?”

autism and family resources

Suggested All About Me Activities:

Build several families (including your own!). Explain that the large figures represent adults, the small figures represent children, and the four-legged creatures represent the family pet. Describe the figures using terms such as large, small big, little, bigger, taller, larger, and compare families. Which family has the least family members? Which family has the most family members? This is also a good time to talk about what makes a family and how some families look alike and some different.

We used it to explain how different children in our house also formed parts of other families. This is some of the time for step siblings etc. This is perfect for the new statutory RSE curriculum or to use with books to explain different families.

Family RSE resources SEN

Line up three figures of different colours. Have the child look away as you remove one. Can the child identify which figure is missing? Try this memory activity with different amounts and sizes of figures.

We can use role play as well. Let’s solve some fun story problems! Make up a story and have the child use the houses and family figures to ‘act out the answer. For example, “Dad and Mom are throwing a birthday party for baby. They invite Grandma and Grandpa and three cousins. How many guests are invited?” Repeat with other amounts, and add in simple subtraction: “Two cousins will not be able to attend. How many guests are left?”

family SEND resources

Communication opportunities.

I made a simple “all about me” communication board using the new Twinkl Symbols App. This is free and so easy to use. Using a communication board allows AAC users to answer and ask questions. It supports children to form sentences and process answers without having to verbalize. This is especially important when it comes to emotional situations or safeguarding. You can print the board and the child can point at, cut it up to label the family members. You can easily use the app to make your own or customise a board like this. If used on a device the app it will speak the labels for you.

All about me fre communication board twinkl
stacking houses fine motor family SEN

Make Your Own Maths Manipulatives

In this post, we will look at two great resources to buy and two free to make maths manipulatives. As an SEN teacher, you will be used to making the most of what you have. Specialist sensory toys, resources, and equipment are usually very expensive. This means the SEN teacher needs to get creative when it comes to resources. See our Teaching Size post for more free resource ideas.

We needed to resources some of our SLD classes with new maths equipment so invested in some Learning Resources kits. In an SEN school, we often have to cover the key concepts repeatedly and using a variety of contexts so size, colour, shape, counting to 10 will be covered in for some classes well into the secondary department. This is a challenge when it comes to age-appropriate resources – see our discussion on age-appropriateness here. The resources also need to be robust which is why the following two maths manipulatives resources were chosen.

Counting Cars.

vehicle maths manipulatives idea

10 well-designed plastic cars that hold between 1 and 10 people. Great for counting, fine motor activities, and simple science experiments. These maths manipulatives have rolling wheels and are a good size for those still developing fine motor skills. We bought ours from TTS – on the website the car colours look different but I am happy with our multi-coloured set.

Colourful counting cars maths manipulatives SEN

Counting Cones.

Ice Cream maths resources

Who wouldn’t want to explore a maths manipulative based on Ice Cream. These are very engaging (if a little pricey) you can get a smaller set of counting cones on amazon. We bought ours from TTS Teaching Resources.The boy loved these, building towers, counting, making and copying patterns. The ice cream part is a softer plastic that may get chewed a bit. These would tie in well for a beach topic as well.

ice cream cone maths manipulatives autism

Free Maths Manipulatives: Milk Bottle Lid Maths

If you haven’t got £20 to spare but you do have a bit of time you can quickly make this counting to 10 set. Just 10 milk bottle lids and a marker pen. I didn’t think of just using a pen until I had made the paper inserts. There are multiple uses for milk bottles as maths manipulatives – colours, numbers, letters, sums,

Milk bottle lid maths manipulatives 1-10

Baby Pouch Lid Maths Manipulatives

widgit symbol maths colour sorting

Well, I can only make this as I have a new baby but as with anything in schools ask around and you will quickly get contributions. This resource uses the multi-coloured pouch lids as maths manipulatives. These are a good size for holding. They are great counters as they are easy to pick up for those developing fine motor skills. You can use this for colour sorting or counting. They are equally good for patterns and sequencing. This TEACCH task box style resource uses a washing capsule box with widgit symbol labels.

colour sorting baby pouch lid

I would love to see your free DIY maths manipulatives. Add them to the comments.

DIY Maths Resources For SEN learners

School: Reconnection & Relationships #SENExchange

Re-connection and Relationships in the Post Lockdown Return to School

Re-connection and relationships. This is a record of the #SENexchange Discussion following the wider reopening of UK schools for the easing of lockdown on March 8th 2021. Many schools had been closed to most pupils from January. Children with an EHCP, vulnerable pupils, keyworker children had been attending according to individual parental or school decisions. Special school attendance was around 40-50%. Approximately 34% of all pupils with an EHCP on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 13 January, down from 75% on 16 December. Approximately 40% of all pupils with a social worker on roll in state-funded schools were in attendance on 13 January, down from 76% on 16 December (Source). In this chat we wanted to look at the impact of relationships on re-connection with face to face education.

SENexchange Returns!

This was the first #SENexchange discussion of the year. I was taking some time to prioritise family following the birth of our daughter. Therefore it was a shorter chat with a few key contributors. Download the wakelet record here

re-connection and relations #SENexchange discussion questions on school reopening.

Over the last year how have relationships helped you manage the challenges we faced and how have any additional needs impacted this?

The root of all successful SEND (and mainstream) education is the relationships we form. Pupils and teachers, teachers and parents, pupils and pupils, pupils and site teams. All the possible combinations of interactions can feed into the communities experience of the school. This can equally apply to other settings including 1:1, PA’s respite care etc. Without these being positive and supportive the last year will have been much more difficult for many.

Assistant Headteacher @TeachPMLD said that from a school perspective, our lifelines have been our Family Liaison team who have been that point of call, that go between and held many supportive conversations with families and staff – allowing teachers to still teach. Which brings up one of the most dramatic changes to education – the switch to remote learning. Which anecdotally has been popular with some pupils who face school anxiety. This is one aspect of the changes brought about by the pandemic that could have real long term benefits if schools are willing to accept that it does fit some pupils better than face to face education.

Relationships with Families

Mary Isherwood wrote that having strong relationships with families enables honest and supportive conversations about the challenges being faced and together exploring ways of managing / solutions. This year has really shown the importance of working in partnership with parents. Schools have often been caught between government decisions and doing what is right for their community. Often we have been the people explaining and enforcing government guidance especially around testing and self isolation. Usually with no more information than that available to families.

Having preexisting positive relationships with partner agencies has helped overcome the awkwardness of virtual
meetings (with technical issues included). I pride myself on the strength of the relationships cultivated with social services, CAMHS etc and this really has helped when supporting vulnerable children, shielding pupils etc. Reconnection will be especially important for those shielding who will have had minimal contact outside the home for over a year.

Elly Chapple, parent, TED speaker and founder of #Flipthenarrative said that relationships have been critical to thriving. Their value has been highlighted enormously in the past year, as uncertainty gripped us all. From my point of view this is true, there has been so much anxiety and the situation has really highlighted how teachers and parents can empathise with each other when we are all facing the same challenge (and some teachers are also parents and vice versa). Just humans facing the same struggle.

What, or who are you looking forward to reconnecting with this year?

This from TeachPMLD sums up my thoughts as well. “The children. Face to face. And staff, supporting everyone to take on board everything they’ve learned from this year and use what new skills they’ve developed.”. So many people have been pushed out of their comfort zones. By embracing virtually meetings we have been able to engage with a much wider range of stakeholders. This is something that Lily and Claire from Oaklands Autism, a specialist autism provision alongside mainstream primary had found. Much quicker consultations with CAMHS has been reported. For other sometimes even having grandparents at wider family at annual reviews. We have been able to have multiple discussions in a day without travelling time taking teachers away from their bubble for a day.

Lily and Claire stated that they were really looking forward to being able to see parents and carers face to face again. We’ve talked on the phone a lot, and zoom a bit, but it’s really not the same. I’m looking forward to seeing them smile when I tell them all the brilliant things their children can do. So the other side to virtual meetings is that feeling of disconnection you can get, the missed cues from body language etc.

Scroew82 Inclusion Lead at Special School in Cumbria, has found that they have had a much higher attendance by parents and professionals using virtual meetings than we did using face to face meetings. We are going to continue offering them as an option after lockdown.

With the wider return to school how has your child coped with reconnecting with education or returning classmates?

TeachPMLD shared the positives – “With absolute delight and joy! Incredible excitement from parents, careers, pupils and staff.”. Elly also had a positive “With a fantastic Primary school focusing on wellbeing and health, first”.

Personally speaking I know my son, who has been in really benefited from the smaller class sizes and fewer interactions to process. We are currently working with the senco on managing the transition to busier environments. Joanna Grace from The Sensory Projects stated that she has had lots of conversations with parents whose autistic children no longer feel like they can return to school.

Does anyone have experience of school (or other provision) being more flexible with face-to-face attendance now or planned?

Joanna mentioned “I met a wonderful school who were finding ways to allow an autistic girl to stay at home, just come in for an hour or so until she feels able to return.”. This low pressure stance is the same as we are taking. We still face many challenges and continued cases that impact on staff, parent and pupil anxiety.

At TeachPMLD’s school they have some children starting slightly later. They will access our morning circle time virtually before heading in to school. They will also be leaving slightly earlier as we are on a campus with other schools so it can busy. This will really facilitate the reconnection SEN pupils need.

Share any resources you have found useful in preparing for reconnection or building relationships.

Joanna Grace has put some resources here. She also recomends that as the thing she’s seen so many people worrying about is anxiety. And Best Medicine’s online’s playful approach to anxiety workshops have been superb.

TeachPMLD has found benefit in using restorative approaches and checking in. Zones of regulation. It’s ok to be yellow, red or blue! ‘Happy post’ to staff with a postcard and a scratch card! (I hope if they win, they still come to work!) Reconnection with staff, some of whom have now been shielding for almost a year is really important too.

We hope you enjoyed reading our chat. Look out for future #SENexchange chats on twitter most Wednesday nights at 8:00pm. Anyone in the SEND community or with an interest is welcome.

Easter Games: 3 Great Toys

Easter Activities for SEND Children

Easter games and resources are great for use in a number of SEND focused activities. I would use this with a wider age range than they are designed for. This raises questions about how age appropriate each resource an I discuss this issue in this blog. Context in choosing resources for SEND learners is more important that the specific resource. How you deliver the learning, how you use learner’s interests to promote engagement.

baby toys for easter

These are chosen as they meet a number of learning objectives in the following areas:

  1. Engagement
  2. Social Interaction
  3. Sensory Exploration
  4. Numeracy, colours, numbers, shapes
  5. Fine motor skills
  6. Turn taking
  7. Problem solving

If you are looking for more Easter resources check out our “Easter Story” sensory story. It is designed to tell the traditional religious Easter story in a way that is engaging for a wide range of children through a multisensory approach to storytelling – Download it free here.

These are fun activities that I would use in a number of Easter themed activities. Mama Hen is great for an Easter themed Attention Autism session, the Tomy eggs are great for learners who love to explore resources and you need something robust. The happy hunt game is great for turn taking and social interaction – it’s a cute bunny , with baskets so obviously a perfect Easter game. Anyway lets have a closer look at the three chosen Easter learning resources.

Hoppy Floppy’s Happy Hunt

Learning Resources Hoppy Floppy’s Happy Hunt Game. This easter bunny themed game is ideal for developing fine motor skills and a variety of early learning goals. Children use the rabbit shaped tweezers to pick up the appropriate colour carrots from the game box. The first player to successfully fill their basket with four different carrots wins. The use of the rabbit shaped tweezers also supports pre-handwriting skills by working the muscles important for the pencil grip. My son found these a challenge to use at first you really have to squeeze!

Happy Easter bunny game colour sorting

Key Learning Objectives.

  • Builds early learning skills
  • Turn taking
  • Develops fine motor skills
  • Encourages the “pencil” grip
  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Colour matching skills
Easter game hoppy floppy happy hunt SEN resources

Mama Hen

Easter themed attention Autism session
Mama Hen – Also motivating for Dacshunds.

Annoying and hilarious in equal measure. I guarantee mama hen will instantly grab the attention of any child! Have a watch of the video below. Have the sound on! This hen will lay three coloured eggs. Although 1 is currently AWOL under a sofa or somewhere. This can form a great Easter themed attention autism session or attention grabber. It would be a fantastic additional PECs motivator or part of an AAC session.

I bought my “egg laying singing chicken” from ebay but it is also available here.

Tomy Toomies Hide and Squeak Easter Eggs

These are a perennial favourite among my children. They are also a very robust toy for an Easter themed activity tray or early numeracy session. Okay not technically Easter but eggs and chicks are now the Easter go to so why not use these. They are good for hide and seek, shape sorting, colour matching and even fine motor.

Easter egg sensory tray activity for SEN

You can also use the faces on these to reinforce emotional regulation work. Unless you lose these they will last for years! Buy here.*

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These are amazon affiliate links. If you buy after clicking this link inclusiveteach will recieve a small % of the cost – it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Hot and Cold Multi-Sensory Stories

Multi-Sensory Stories For Key Vocabulary

These two super simple sensory stories cover just one concept each. Hot and Cold. This vocabulary is reinforced by everyday objects that are cold and hot. You shouldn’t need any expensive resources and can adapt each line to fit what you have available.

Please visit our main sensory story page for our other sensory stories. All sensory story booklets on this site are free to use and share but if you are putting them on a school website please link back to this page. If you really liked this story please consider sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. If you are feeling really generous please consider buying something from our wish list. It will all be used for the pupils at my school for sensory sessions.

Curriculum Links

The vocabulary Hot and Cold are essential to learn in a variety of contexts. These Sensory Stories can help reinforce a number of curriculum areas.

  • Science
  • RSE – Washing, clothing
  • Weather
  • Time – seasons
  • Food Technology

Hot Sensory Story

Hot sensory story PMLD

This is hot (food – warmed up something nice)
I must nibble a little first.

This is hot (drink – warm cup)
I must take small sips first.

This is hot (candle – candle light bulb)
I must just look.

This is hot (bath/sink – bowl of water)
I must test it first.

This is hot (radiator – Heat pad)
I must not touch.

This is hot (sunshine – Warm, bright light glow)
I must have cream on.

This is hot (Hairdryer on low heat setting)
I wear my hat

This is hot (warm water spray on hand)
It must be summer.

(open up your hot sensory umbrella)

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Cold Sensory Story

This is cold (ice pop/cream)
I eat it in summer.

This is cold (drink)
I can drink it.

This is cold (autumn scene, throw leaves)
I put my coat on.

This is cold (Cold pack/wrapped ice pack)
I put my hat on.

This is cold (cool fan on hand)
I put my gloves on.

This is cold (water spray)
It must be raining.

This is cold (Shaved Ice)
It must be winter.

(open up your cold sensory umbrella)

sensory story weather cold
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An Easter Sensory Story

easter story cross at sunset PMLD

A Traditional Easter Sensory Story

This is my attempt to capture the key themes of the traditional Easter story in the format of a sensory story. Being relatively complex I have had to remove a few elements and reduce some situations to single lines. I have not shied away from the more violent sections but have also not included the spear to the side etc. This is primarily due to the aversive nature of this which would not be appropriate for PMLD Learners.

An Easter Sensory Story. Free PDF booklet for multi-sensory storytelling. Click To Tweet
Easter sensory story pdf cover joe white

Easter: A Sensory Story should be easy to adapt by removing some elements/lines. Suitable for your RE curriculum or just for an Easter activity. I have also tried to keep the number of resources needed to a minimum. As always I would love to see what you have found to use and enrich your storytelling.

Please visit our main sensory story page for our other sensory stories. All sensory story booklets on this site are free to use and share but if you are putting them on a school website please link back to this page. If you really liked this story please consider sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. If you are feeling really generous please consider buying something from our wish list. It will all be used for the pupils at my school for sensory sessions.

The Easter Sensory Story

The Easter Story Donkry sensory PMLD
Example page from Easter Sensory Story

Here is the text of the story. For the PDF booklet click here.

Look, here comes a small brown donkey with Jesus on his back
People cheering, laying palm leaves along the dusty track.

We are in Jerusalem, going through the golden gate.
Roman soldiers everywhere, guarding Governor Pilate.

Jesus and his friends all gather around to meet,
With a bowl of cool, clear water, Jesus bends to wash their feet.

In a room, a table was laid with bread and wine,
Jesus tells his apostles to all sit down to dine.

Jesus says a blessing and breaks up a loaf of bread,
“This is my body, for you to remember me” Jesus said.

Then giving thanks he pours the wine into a cup
Saying “Drink, this is my blood.” and passes it for them to sup

Jesus then stood and said out loud “One of you will betray me”
All his apostles looked around and wondered who it would be.

They went to the garden of Gethsemane to sit awhile and pray
Judas came and kissed his cheek, he was the one who would betray.

The Roman soldiers marched in to take Jesus away
Pontious Pilate asked him what he had to say

But Jesus wouldn’t say a word to save himself that day
So Pilate washed his hands and shouted “Crucify him I say.”

Wrapped in a scarlet cloak and with a thorny crown,
They humiliated Jesus and beat him to the ground.

A long, hot walk with a heavy cross up the hill began,
Simon helped carry the cross as Jesus could barely stand.

At the top they stop and offer Jesus some cheap wine
He refused and was nailed upon the cross, three in a line.

On the cross he cried out “it is finished!” and his head fell to his chest.
He was taken to a cave sealed with a rock and laid to rest.

Early Sunday morning with the sun rise and the flowers bloom,
Mary Magdalene went to visit and saw the empty tomb.

She asked a man standing in the garden “what’s the plan?”
“It is I Jesus, I am risen” Look at the holes in both my hands.

For 40 days he talked and prayed, then he knelt and bowed,
Then up to Heaven He did ascend upon a shining cloud.

Required/Optional Sensory Resources

  • Metal – baking tray etc for soldiers clanking
  • Large leaves, green material
  • Fake fur for a donkey
  • Sand or dust to put on hands/feet then wash off
  • Bowl and cool water
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Red, white sheets
  • Bread
  • Grape Juice
  • Spices/aroma
  • Cup and jug
  • Floral scent
  • Light/torch
  • Vinegar
  • Red paint

Free PDF of the Story

I would love to see your stories and resources.

3 Engaging Maths Games

We got our hands on these three great maths game resources from Learning Resources. I had seen a post on instagram with the pirate treasure game. It was being used by a speech therapist so I was very excited when I got a chance to have a play learning session with it. I am currently resourcing our autism specific classes. These maths games are highly engaging, hard wearing and versatile. They have the added benefit of being great to use to encourage joint attention and interaction on top of academic targets. When you can use maths games for multiple purposes the learning becomes more organic. Inclusiveteach.com was not gifted or provided these for review we bought them as they seemed perfect for our needs. If you like the look of special education teaching resources for school or home learning please share this post.

Learning resources maths games for SEND pupils

Choosing Maths Games for SEND pupils.

With SEND learners, lessons and the resources we use have to be carefully chosen. The same goes for any Literacy or maths games. I will use these with secondary aged pupils but their initial design is for primary pupils. We wrote about age appropriateness here and think that these resources are a good compromise. I will also be using the resources to develop work tasks as part of the TEACCH system. They are great for sequencing and other independent maths activities.

Two of these maths games don’t seem overtly academic which may help demand avoidant pupils engage. We chose the mini motor maths game as transport and cars are highly motivating for one of the pupils I had in mind for this activity. These games can easily be lent out to support home learning. This is especially important for SEND learners who cannot access worksheets or online provision. Some of our pupils have clearly defined thoughts about mixing home and school. These maths games would be good to try and encourage the practicing of maths concepts at home. I hope the current disruption to learning will be drawing to an end soon but many of our pupils have significant health needs. These games would be great to send home if they needed time out of school in the future.

Maths Game 1: Sorting Surprise Pirate Treasure.

Sorting maths SEND activity home learning maths games autism

My favourite and possible the game that got the most engagement from our testers was Sorting Surprise Pirate Treasure*. It provides you with multiple opportunities for practicing numeracy skills and other games. We hid the keys around the room to give a competitive and active element to the activity. Each chest is labelled with a colour, number and shaped key so you have three concepts straight away. It was a challenge for our youngest (4) to open chests with a key. We need to focus on fine motor development and object manipulation as well.

Learning resources pirate maths game shape number colour
Maths scavenger hunt home learning
Hide the pirate’s keys scavenger hunt.

Maths Game 2: Mini Motor Maths

A very motivating game that can be played with 2 players. Mini Motor Maths-Buy Here * comes with different coloured cars so you can involve counting, patterns and sequencing. The main aim of the maths game element is to roll a dice and get your car to the finish line first (basically a 1-20 number line). There is also a colour dice which you use in conjunction with the numbers. You can select an appropriate number of cars to create pictograms etc. These are really sturdy learning resources and can be integrated into small world play.

Mini motor maths game SEND learners inclusive numeracy activities one blue car and one purple car

Maths Game 3: Counting Owls

Counting owls SEND learning activity. Multicoloured plastic owls and branch number line.

Our final game is great for TEACCH stations and independent learning. The Counting Owls – Buy Here* set is also perfect for collaborative play, problem solving and working together. You can hide each owl in a tough tray or sand tray to add a sensory maths element. The owls themselves are hard plastic and take some finger strength to add or remove from the branch effect 1-10 number line. The game comes with pattern cards and a spinner so can be a very versatile resource.

green and purple owl number line pattern.

*Indicates an affiliate link – inclusiveteach will receive a small percentage of the purchase towards our hosting costs – no extra cost to you if you decide to buy something.

Sensory Lights: USB Power

This blog is going to explore how just with a poundland power-bank we can create simple and affordable sensory lights. We can use these as a 1 off activity or to integrate into your multi-sensory storytelling. As we all know if you put “sensory” on the front of any product you can double the price. So using a few non-specialist products we can make some flexible and reusable resources to enhance sessions for our sensory learners.

sensory lights for PMLD learners

What are Powerbanks?

Powebanks are basically rechargeable battery packs that allow you to charge phones etc via their USB port. USB powered lights and fans are common and powerbanks are perfect for these. Frugal teachers often find the best bargains and I bought my powerbank from Poundland. It is not the most powerful but easily lasts 40 minutes and is rechargeable. Mine is now 4 years old and still going strong. Obviously a bigger more expensive bank will last longer and power multiple lights etc. The one below can power sensory lights or other devices and tells you how much charge is left (but is 15x the price).

USB Powerbank for Sensory resources

Please share this post if you think it would be useful to your colleagues.

Resources/Products Used For Sensory Lights

  • USB Powerbank – Buy Here or Home Bargains, Poundland etc.
  • LED Light Stick – Buy Here – This is from Wish so make take a while to arrive.
  • LED Sound Responsive Disco Sensory Light – Buy Here
  • Single multi-colour LED USB Lights – Buy Here
  • Empty milk bottle.
3 USB lights for sensory storytellling

Using Sensory Lights To Create Immersive Environments

One of my favourite ways to use sensory lights is to change the perception of the environment. If telling a sensory story like the “Blue Abyss” I used blue sensory lights to make it feel cold. For the “Miles to the Nile” sensory story I used a yellow sensory light to signify warmth.

One of the easiest ways to make an effective sensory light rather than just a light is to use an empty milk bottle as a light diffuser. This creates more of a glow rather than a beam and can be much more gentle on the eyes. The great thing about using a small USB powerbank to power the light is you can move it, change the attachment or use multiple to create zones without much additional outlay. The links above are to Amazon or Wish but a quick hunt in Home Bargains will provide sensory light resources for less.

milk bottle sensory light diffuser free sensory play idea
A milk bottle light diffuser

Instant Disco

The mini USB disco sensory lights are awesome for turning a plain unstimulating room into an instant disco. These are also sound sensitive so respond to music, clapping or vocalizations. This is really beneficial when working with learners using emerging communication. If you get a smallish powerbank you can also attach it to a wheelchair or handle to make it graspable. The milk bottle works well for this as well due to the handle. The best bit is you don’t need a power socket or wires. Great safe sensory play.

Instant disco light usb PMLD sensory play

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to see your sensory lights and hear about how you use them.

Joe

Disco bottle EYFS sensory play ideas.
USB Disco Light in Milk Bottle Diffuser

*Indicates Affiliate Links – Inclusiveteach.com may earn a small percentage of any purchases you make after clicking these links. These all go towards hosting costs and if anything is left over towards sensory equipment for our children. Check out our Storefront for more sensory product ideas.