The sensory story has been written with the anxious in mind, and it mirrors some of the activities we include in performances albeit on a smaller scale; this may be helpful for those who would like to feel familiar with the production before seeing it for the first time, or who may benefit from some extra confidence by knowing what sorts of sensory activities we use to illustrate different parts of the tale. There are also plenty of photos of resources in action, which may also be helpful for visualising what a performance will look like and involve - please be assured that all participation on the day is entirely voluntary: audiences are welcome to watch or join in however they need to.
The audio for all our songs has been uploaded to Soundcloud so you can play these at the right moments during the sensory story or, even better, so you can learn the songs to sing for yourself.
You can also use the pack to extend your experience following the show by creating your own mini version at home or school, by using the Story Massages to learn some Shakespearean speeches and to feel the language, or to create images or follow-on experiences that relate to Van Gogh.
Please do send us any feedback comments, photos, etc, of you using the pack: we'd love to know what you think!
#ShakespeareWeek #relaxedperformance #ACESupported #FantasticForFamilies #inclusivearts
Then, a zillion people post up a range of random items - lights, swings, tents, vibrating mats, and the inevitable bubble tube - with links from eBay, Amazon, B&M Homestore, Tiger, etc.
Don't get me wrong: I freaking LOVE a bubble tube. Always have. And I was particularly grateful for one installed in my local children's ward when one of my sons went in to have his tonsils and adenoids removed last year. The tube was on all the time, day and night, and for my boy - on the pathway towards a diagnosis of autism - who couldn't sleep due to anxiety and pain, and who wouldn't take any medicine because he was terrified of anything going in his mouth, the bubble tube saved our night: I sat on the floor in front of it for hours with him on my lap, we were almost unified in a state of meditation looking at it and listening to it, trying hard to get through, taking life one minute at a time. The ward was completely still, hardly any staff about, so it was just us and the tube. It worked. For that time and space it worked. My son had come across them before, including during his pre-op visit to the ward, and afterwards in other environments, however he's never shown any prior nor any current interest. They simply exist in the world now for him.
Also, I freaking LOVE all those suppliers too! Almost everything in my shows is sourced from one or other of them - that's not the issue either: and I do absolutely LOVE sensory rooms and spaces and have had some wonderful encounters in them with children, young people, and adults alike!
The issue is that sensory rooms suffer from a lot of unhelpful stereotypes, such as: they should be dark, filled with colourful and moving lights. Footage on Children in Need or Comic Relief of sensory rooms in hospices, the marketing images in sensory catalogues (especially the ones making and selling sensory technology), and the beautiful Instagram posts shared by other people who've already transformed a room into a wow-worthy sensory space, all contribute to quite a rigid and limited understanding of what a sensory room is. The focus is very much on what the room has in it, rather than on what it's actually for.
If your child NEEDS a bubble tube, then they should definitely have one - B&M do some lovely affordable ones, for example....but that's the starting point: what does your child NEED? Not what do they WANT (a Nintendo Switch and a bucket of cucumbers, for my two boys), nor what you want (a hammock and some truly epic coffee)...or even what you, yourself, need (a shower that doesn't leak). It's about your child. Unless you're planning a sensory room for yourself, of course!
We have the five senses that everyone knows about - touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing - but increasingly, especially for children with AS or SPD, you may also know about proprioception (the sense that tells us where our body is in space so we can touch our nose with our eyes shut, or judge the distance of a jump); interoception (the sense that tells us what's going on inside our body - are we hungry, thirsty, needing a wee, etc); and sometimes the vestibular sense is also put as a sense on its own - the vestibular system helps us to balance and is based in the inner ear, when our vestibular system is spun around then we may get dizzy, for example: some people LOVE that sensation, others (like me) hate it! A sensory room built around dark and light may only stimulate some of those senses, and what if they're the senses that your child doesn't actually need to be stimulated? Bubble tubes may be exactly the right thing, or they may be a lovely thing that has an initial burst of novelty but no long term benefit or use...the graveyard of unused and unloved bubble tubes is a sad place of broken dreams and damp carpets!
So, here's the place to start: what will the sensory room be used for?
Is it a place to calm down? Is it a place to work on relationships and communication? Is it a place to move and release energy? Is it a place where you will work on physiotherapy, speech therapy, or other therapeutic input? Will your child sometimes need to do all of these?
Then, reflect for a minute: putting aside a room in your house as a dedicated sensory space is a huge gift and sacrifice all at once. It's a gift to be able to offer your child a space where some important needs can be met, but your house only has so many rooms and giving up such a big space may mean some of your other spaces have to work harder to compensate for the loss: can your home and your family make that compromise on space? Do the benefits outweigh the losses? Putting aside a whole room and equipping it to your child's needs is a big investment of time, energy, space, and money - you need to be sure that it will earn its keep....or, you could think about temporary/pop-up spaces instead, and get them out when needed.
Photography tents/pods make a good alternative to ones specifically marketed as sensory pods, or you can buy poles and connectors by FormUFit and make your own; I thread curtains with eyelets along the poles, or drape fabric - bedsheets and duvet covers are great, tarpaulins, camouflage netting or space blankets on mine to provide coverage. Some Children's Centres, hospices, nurseries and schools allow you to hire their sensory spaces for a small fee: would this be a better alternative, or at least a chance to try out some spaces to see how your child responds to them to give you a better idea of what would be useful at home?
So, will it be a whole room, or could it be a temporary space? What will it mainly be used for?
Then, think about your child.
What feelings will they be going into the space with? How would you like them to feel at the end of their time in there? If the aim is calm - and it often is - what places and spaces does your child tend to show their calm in? If they're most usually calm outdoors, then it may not be a sensory space you need but more outdoor time, so would changes to your garden be more useful instead?
Often parents/carers think that having a sensory room will help their child to regulate, or that it will be a safe space to be in when they're in meltdown or feeling very overwhelmed. Sensory spaces can really help with this...but don't build a sensory space in the hope that you can turn your child loose into it and that, by the pure magic of twirly lights, their big feelings and dysregulation will disappear and you can all get on with your day. Children are wired to thrive on connection to others, even when they appear to be ignoring you. The power of a sensory space can be hugely enhanced by you being in it or near it with your child - you don't need to talk to them, play with them, or touch them; just your presence, your calm breathing, your curiosity and interest in what they're doing, can achieve HUGE amounts for your child's regulation and wellbeing; don't put your child in a room and walk away, it's not a container or 'baby sitter'. Sensory resources, especially the cheaper ones, do need adult supervision for safe usage too; and, if you're taking your child there to calm down and they're entering the space feeling very scared, anxious, angry, etc, then you need to be prepared for the fact that sensory resources may well be thrown, bashed, kicked, turned into projectiles or weapons, etc.
If your child needs physical resources and experiences to manage through a meltdown, does it need to be a room or a dedicated space? Could it be in their bedroom, could it be via a body sock (a lycra sack you can climb inside), could it be under the dining table, could it be on the swings in the local park? What works best for your child? A sensory space isn't a 'one size fits all' remedy for meltdown.
So, with that all in mind, what kind of sensory experiences does your child NEED, and what do they like/not like? If they like lights, then go with lights...but you have seven or eight senses to explore, and lights may mostly just work with vision (and sometimes hearing because they can emit a hum too, or bubbles in the case of those darned bubble tubes, and maybe a bit of vibration) and not deliver much more: what senses elicit big responses for your child? If they love movement, then go for resources that enable them to experience those movements; conversely, if they hate movement then no matter how pretty, cool, well-recommended an item is then don't buy it - I remember one family I met went to enormous lengths to find the money to buy a spinning 'egg' chair from Ikea because it was on a list of sensory stuff for children like theirs, even though they knew their child hated spinning and didn't like enclosed spaces! Needless to say their son showed them exactly what he thought of it by ripping the canopy off the first time he encountered it. They were gutted.
The home sensory spaces I often see pictures of are beautiful. Beautifully decorated, packed with gorgeous and clever things, beautifully laid out with areas for this and that...but, a sensory space doesn't need to look pretty. It doesn't need to be Instagram-worthy. It doesn't need a wow of approval from another grown-up: it needs the seal of approval from your child.
A great sensory space for your child could simply be a totally empty room painted white!
If you ever moved house as a child and had the joyful experience of going into a totally empty room, especially when a room in a very familiar house is suddenly emptied of everything, then you'll know that feeling of space - it's magical! Imagine finding that magic whenever you need it behind a door in your own home! Personally, I'd love it! I'd lie on the carpet and look out at the sky, or read a book, or dance, or when one of my children is having a tough time we might go in there and do headstands against the wall or roll across the carpet to see if we can get from one wall to the other...but that's because this would meet my needs and, sometimes, my sons' needs too. It's not for everyone.
Look through your child's eyes at the space you have available, and then design from there. If the room needs to be calm and somewhere that reduces sensory overload, then don't clutter it with colours or stuff. How does your child find calm? If they find the dark scary, then don't go for a dark space.
Which senses does your child gain most calm, joy, excitement, curiosity, etc, from? What activities, items or resources could enhance these? Remember, they don't need to come from a catalogue or cost very much at all: a stack of large cardboard boxes for building with and knocking down, a long swathe of thick lycra fabric for wrapping/swinging/ pulling, giant bubblewrap tacked to a wall for popping or rolling along, some pots and pans for banging, etc, can cost pennies and create wonderfully helpful experiences for your child - with you alongside for support.
Also, sensory rooms and spaces don't need to be static: they're not like decorating your living room where you'll probably have the same sofa and curtains for many years. If your sensory room remains static then children may lose interest in it and the items you carefully chose will just become things that gather dust and lose their benefit; conversely, some children thrive on knowing that their sensory space is always consistent as it helps them to feel safe when things are predictable and familiar. What does your child need?
If having some versatility would be useful, think about having vinyl flooring or other waterproof surfaces put in and using the space for water play or sand play, for example, or putting down tarpaulin and covering the floor in straw, peat, bark chippings, etc. If your child has a particular special interest then theme their sensory space to that: imagine a land for dinosaurs to roam in filled with potted ferns, trays filled with a range of natural materials to form landscapes from the desert to a grassland, you could make a volcano out of cardboard and fill it with lava pom-poms and scarves that can be thrown or spread to make an eruption, put some 'jungle' sounds on a music player as background noise, etc....the limit is your imagination, and your child's sensory tolerance levels: this could be WAY too much for some, but paradise for others.
A sensory space could be covered with paper from floor to ceiling with a big pot of pens and stickers in the middle so you can draw and decorate all around, up high and down low. It could be a bin full of Lego or giant soft blocks, or a world made of play dough, it could have a Gorilla Gym in it or a climbing wall, it could be filled with pillows and blankets to lounge on or make dens from - it can be whatever your child needs it to be!
Your child's sensory needs may well evolve over time, so a flexible space will allow that to happen too.
But, do you mean a sensory room, or do you mean a play room? Play can and does involve sensory experiences, and sensory experiences can be very playful , but a play room and a sensory room are not the same thing: a sensory space is about offering sensory experiences that stimulate and integrate the senses in order to achieve an effect - that could be to find calm and connection to others, or it could be to work on motor skills, or to provide lighting conditions that allow a person's eyesight to work at their optimum if they have a visual impairment, etc. A play room doesn't have that same agenda: it's more open-ended and can be used for any outcome or none, and may well include toys and activities that have little or no sensory benefit e.g. a room with a computer gaming system in is not a sensory room. One is not better than the other, it's what your child needs and what fits in with your house and family.
Also consider, who else may be using the sensory space - will it be solely for one child? Will it be accessible to siblings and, if so, how are their needs similar or different from each other, and how will you accommodate everyone? Will it need to become a guest bedroom, dining room, etc, sometimes? If so, how will you manage this change for your child?
The bottom line is: you know your child.
Design the sensory space they most need for now.
It doesn't need to cost a fortune, nor does it need any typical sensory items in it unless your child would love and benefit from them. It doesn't need to look pretty or special: it's there to do a job, so functional but inviting is more important. It does need to involve you: you will be using it too, it's not a space to park your child in. So, here are the questions I'd be asking myself....
A a lot of this is about giving you some things to think about as you work on this project, however talk to and involve your child - it doesn't matter if they're non-verbal: they can still show you what they need, express preferences, etc - ask them what they need the room to be for and what they need in it to make that thing happen.
And lastly: you don't have to have one at all! It's a nice thing for many people, but not always an essential thing to have....much like a bubble tube!
EDIT: 5th February 2019
Tweet from National Holocaust Centre and Museum:
"Thank you @CollarCuffsCo for relating #HMD to the important role we all play in improving the lives of young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). We have a duty to create an appropriate reflective and sensory experience for them: https://goo.gl/Jx8pqA "
Observe and Remember
Practitioners working with children or young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) are often asked to consider ways to offer experiences that will include them in observing particular calendar days, from Remembrance Sunday to Children in Need. The merits or benefits of doing this are frequently debated, however from scanning through a range of practitioner forums over the past few days it seems that many are being asked to do something to mark Holocaust Memorial Day - some are positive but unsure what to do, while others feel uncomfortable with the idea but have very little power to refuse the request. I feel there's a duty to respond and support colleagues, and to offer something that will, at the very least, create an appropriate reflective and sensory experience for these children and young people - you can download the resource I've written below.
The Holocaust and genocide are tremendously important and sensitive topics in contemporary society, and continue to inform discourse around human rights, religion, culture, gender, sexuality, and also disability. People with PMLD are frequently neglected or ignored by the government, local authorities and health and social care services, and are often denied access to most of the world beyond their homes or schools by a lack of even the most basic of human rights: truly accessible, hygienic and safe toileting facilities; see the Changing Places campaign.
Society at large tends to pity and patronise them and perceives them mainly to be suffering, rather than thriving; see Joanna Grace's TedX talk for a full and frank exploration of this. As practitioners we see and hold dear the potential of each individual we work with: we recognise their needs and preferences, their thoughts and feelings, their senses of humour and interests, their contributions to the world - no matter how big or small that world may be - and we continue to advocate for and with them alongside their families and carers. Within our sector, the Core and Essential Service Standards for Supporting People with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities have at their heart a complete dedication to ensuring the full participation, autonomy, voice and rights of a group who would, at the hands of Nazi Germany, potentially have been part of the T4 euthanasia programme. Holocaust Memorial Day is a perhaps an annual reminder or call to action for why we must keep on championing the rights and needs of people with PMLD; as part of the constant commitment to remembering the Holocaust, the often used words are 'Never Forget' and 'Never Again' - let's make sure we don't and that it never does.
Relating Holocaust Memorial Day to the important role we play in improving the lives of people with PMLD perhaps opens a new space from which to engage in this annual day of reflection, and there is a simple activity suggested here to support this. This session is drawn from the work of Liz Collar, a special education teacher with nearly 40 years of experience working across a wide spectrum of needs, and whose dedication to making art, music and history accessible and relevant to young people with PMLD has inspired so much of my own practice - she's also my mum! It is also informed by my time as an academic in the field of Religious Studies, where I developed a specialism in Holocaust Theology and Jewish History.
For more information about Holocaust Memorial Day visit: www.hmd.org.uk
We've developed a little play guide to support children in learning the skills they need to be able to wipe after going to the toilet: this is a complex physical skill to be able to master, and increasingly through performing 'You, The Loo, and Nappy-Nappy Noos' we're coming across a lot of children who simply don't have the physical development to be able to do it successfully.
Play is the key tool for physical development, so here are some of our ideas for you to explore and develop...
You can read it for free here:
HAPPY NEW YEAR! The end of 2018 is here , and we thought we'd share our year in numbers for you...
We were founded in 2016, so we're just a mere 2 years old. The past 12 months has been our busiest and biggest year yet, even though we're just an creative team of 1 (Julia) and a performance team of 2 (Julia and Ellie).
Three new productions have been developed this year: 'Crabby' (premiered in May at Brighton Fringe with The Warren); 'You, The Loo and Nappy-Nappy Noos' (premiered in May at Brighton Fringe with The Warren, and developed in partnership with ERIC UK); and 'The Christmas Clock' (premiered at Delapre Abbey in November).
Our audience has grown and grown! Before May this year we only had 'Little Meerkat's Big Panic' out on the road, and Meerkat had by that point been seen by around 3,000 people...in 2018, we saw over 1,200 people so we're well on our way to a total reach of 4,500 people! And all from £550 of funding from MK SOUP.
'Crabby' has been our second busiest show, and in 2018 we shared the seaside with nearly 750 people. 'Nappy Noos' has been seen by over 650 people. Thanks to saving up small surpluses from these performances we were able to fund our very first Christmas show, and 'The Christmas Clock' has now reached over 560 people; we will be bringing this show back in 2019 with a bigger, better Volume II (The Revenge) edition (joke!)
This means, in 2018, we have entertained nearly 3,200 people, and since May 2018 we have sold out every public show to date across all four productions!
In 2018, we were nominated for two awards: the National Diversity Awardsfor Best Community Organisation and The Small Awards for the Sole To Sole category; we eventually ended up as finalists for The Small Awards and went to a lovely awards ceremony in London. We also won two awards, scooping Best Children and Family Show for 'Crabby' at International Youth Arts Festival, Kingston and then Best Children's Show at Buxton Festival Fringe for 'Little Meerkat's Big Panic'.
Thanks to many, many lovely crowdfunders (we love you all dearly), in 2018 we raised £500 to develop 'Crabby' and received a small grant from Andrew Lloyd Webber's RUG Charities to create this production; linking this to our audience stats above, we've reached one person for every £1 the project has cost. 'Crabby' is continuing to secure new bookings into 2019, so the cost/value figure over time will soon look even better. For 'Meerkat', the cost/value figure is currently at 7 pence per person reached and falling; for 'Nappy Noos' the cost/value figure is currently at 0.5 pence per person reached! We're really proud of our low-cost model, and the reach we've achieved.
We've also raised £550 in crowdfunding towards the development costs of our new production for 2019: a sensory version of 'The Tempest'. This will be our biggest and most ambitious show yet, and we are looking towards other funding sources to ensure we have sufficient materials to be able to increase our average audience size from 50 per show up to 100 per show. We are very excited to confirm that we will be premiering the show at Brighton Fringe, marking our fifth year of participation in the festival.
As well as taking our shows out to schools, early years setting, libraries, theatres, festivals and fields in 2018, we've also increased our reach and impact through other projects. Julia became a Sensory Ambassador to the marvellous Circus Starr as well as an Associate Artist at MK Gallery within their 'Arts and Us' programme of work. In addition, Julia has delivered whole year-group sessions around understanding anxiety in two very large secondary schools, reaching over 500 young people with practical sensory strategies to support self-regulation.....
Blimey! What a year!
Thank you SO much to everyone who's come along to see us, and for all the feedback and ideas: we listen to everything you share with us and, having now had so many families that have seen multiple shows, we hold your children firmly in mind when we're thinking about what to do next and how to make it marvellous.
Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy, happy, and calm 2019. We can't wait to see you all again and to share our new productions with you...yes, that's right, it's not just 'The Tempest' that's brewing ;)
Lots of Love
Julia & Ellie
Earlier this year, Julia became a Sensory Ambassador for Circus Starr. If you don't know this company, then they are a charity providing free circus shows across the country for children and young people with complex needs, young carers, children and young people living with life-limiting illnesses, mental health challenges, or other factors that may impact on their quality of life. Their performances are Relaxed, inclusive, signed and audio described, and they also have a Changing Places approved toilet.
Building on foundations developed by sensory engagement expert Joanna Grace of The Sensory Projects, Circus Starr commissioned some new sensory story writers and tellers to develop the range of Sensory Story resources available to audiences. Joanna wrote a gorgeous story introducing a circus performance in the Circus Starr Big Top, from the smell of the popcorn to the feel of the grass underfoot, to the sound of clapping and the spectacle of the high wire, to help manage audiences' anticipation and expectations, as well as to relive the magic afterwards.
The Sensory Ambassador project has led to the development of two new sensory stories to accompany Circus Starr's winter season, and next week I get to visit two special schools in Milton Keynes to share what I've developed.
For me, the aspect I most wanted to explore is how a Sensory Story can place the experiencer in the heart of a performance so they can try on a character role and feel part of the circus, and not just part of the audience. So, my story is 'Ringmaster For A Day', a tale where the experiencer takes on the role of Circus Starr's own brilliant Ringmaster, Joel Hatton, from his jacket, to his microphone, to his responsibilities, as well as exploring what it's like to be a clown, to be an aerialist, or to be a low wire walker.
From my experiences of therapeutic performing arts, I have come across so many people with PMLD that have enjoyed being in the spotlight - I'm reminded of the sensory tour I ran for 'Let Me In' festival at Rose Theatre Kingston earlier this year, where participants spent time trying on costumes and looking at themselves in the mirror, being on the stage, and engaging with the special effects and lights with such curiosity and joy - so I wanted to create something that offered an opportunity for the experiencer to become the subject of the story and that made space for the experiencer to control and lead the pace, and to step into another character.
Taking that performance angle further, I will be conducting my visits in costume as a Ringmaster (I've always wanted a tailcoat) hoping to be led into as much as to lead an outreach circus before the children and young people visit Circus Starr for real. Can't wait!
For more information see: www.circus-starr.org.uk/news/2018-09-21/the-wonder-of-stories/
Have we found the ultimate distraction game?
Going on a long car journey can be tough for young children or anyone with high anxiety, however one of my twins has recently started finding even short journeys a bit of a challenge, especially if we hit any sort of traffic jam.
His anxiety means he needs to focus on completing the car journey as quickly as possible so he can get to the next thing, and he experiences it as a long transition towards or away from an activity rather than an activity in its own right - he's very much about outcomes, rather than processes. This means that traffic jams are especially hard. He's now old enough and imaginative enough to know that when traffic starts to slow down this means his discomfort is going to be prolonged too, and the anticipation of a delay - which is pretty likely on the motorway - is ever-present for him.
I do get it: it's pretty horrid to have those worries and the accompanying bodily sensations. It does make for some quite jittery journeys for us all as we struggle to help him stay regulated and to cope with sitting still, waiting, and trying to be patient. His dysregulation then affects his brother, who resorts to loud screeching and silly behaviour, and that then usually results in both of them thumping each other! We have had to stop a lot on recent journeys to help them both calm down, and have sometimes only been able to continue our journey if a grown-up sits between them to be a physical presence for co-regulation.
Like most parents, we've tried all the usual tactics to distract him, however toys to fidget with often turn into missiles that get hurled into the front of the car when his frustration and anxiety get too much, or become weapons with which to bash his brother; crunchy foods are helpful, but only on short journeys; screen time numbs him down but can then mean he needs more processing time at the end of the journey, which can manifest as demand avoidance at best, aggression at worst! All of these solutions don't help him sit with the journey, they distract him from what is happening, and actually the thing we need most to work on is how to be 'in the moment' rather than worrying about what comes next.
We then came across the Mini Cheddar game.
It's a very simple game for car journeys, though we've also been using it on our walk to school too, and features the iconic Mini car. As a big fan of 'The Italian Job' (thanks Mum!), I really love these little cars.
It works like this:
If you spot a Mini, then that's 10 points.
If you spot a yellow car (not a van or lorry), then that's 5 points.
If you spot a yellow Mini, that's a Mini Cheddar and earns 25 points.
You can play the game open-ended and see what the score is by the time you finish your journey (our current record for a 35 mile journey is 350 points), or you can set a target e.g. can we get to 100 before we arrive at school? Today, we reached 70 thanks to a Mini in the staff car park.
While it's a simple game, it has a lot of content to it: you need to be able to recognise a Mini and scour the roads and driveways for them; you need to spot yellow cars and intentionally exclude yellow vehicles that aren't cars - not easy when you're desperate to reach a target; you need to keep adding on your score, which means holding on to what your current score is first, and then adding on differing amounts; and, everyone needs to see the car too - you can't pretend you've seen something, your 'spot' needs to be validated by others for it to count.
The beauty of this game is that it's very distracting indeed. For my sons, it turns their attention during car journeys towards observation - they are looking out at the world, turning their attention to what is happening around them rather than focusing on their thoughts and feelings about being stuck in a car on the way to something; they find the anticipation of beating a top score or hitting a target an easier form of anxiety to cope with - they are experiencing progress through the journey as their score changes and, even in a traffic jam, there are Minis to spot; they enjoy the maths challenge too, and can both hold onto their current score and add on in 5s, 10s, and 25s. It's also very fortunate that one of my twins' favourite colour happens to be yellow.
It may be that it's just working for now because of the novelty, so I'm thinking about ways we can extend and flex the game to increase the difficulty, or to add a different challenge. It may be that it's the simplicity that is the most helpful thing, but until we experiment it's hard to say.
However, it's having a great impact for us...and it's fun too! So, if you're off out and about, why not try your own game of Mini Cheddar: can you beat our score of 350 in one journey?
Ready, steady, go! And try not to blow the bloody doors off, eh?
We've been thinking for some time that we would like to be able to offer children and their families more opportunities for engagement and play in and around our performances, and the natural solution is to provide Sensory Story sessions in our local area. We conducted a little bit of market research via some local social media groups for parents and could quickly see that some provision specifically for 0-5s with any form of special need, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed would be welcome.
Via the market research, Thrift Farm in Milton Keynes got in touch to offer their Food 4 Thought cafe as a free venue! So, the plan is now to test out a short series of free sessions over three months and then, if successful, seek funding to continue the provision. Twinkle, Twinkle, Christmas Star will be our first event, with additional sessions running in January (themed around snow, ice and cold) and February (themed around warm, fuzzy and love) 2019.
Each session will include a 30 minute Sensory Story where we will support and model to parents/carers how to deliver the story themselves, and we'll also provide them with a copy to take home and repeat. Following the session, families are welcome to stay on to play and chat. The session will be signed, Relaxed so children are able to join in however they need to in order to feel safe, and are designed to support calm and wellbeing for both children and their grown-ups.
Since opening up booking today we have been overwhelmed by the response, to the point where we've put on a second session as well as receiving enquiries about bringing the sessions to other groups, venues and locations throughout December! We're so looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this strand of work.
Huge thanks to Nadine and all at Thrift Farm for their support: you are so brilliant and so positive, and we love and appreciate that!
Julia went to the BBC 3 Counties studio on the 9th August 2018 to chat with Nick Coffer about Crabby, with big shout outs for Dave Benson Phillips and Justin Fletcher (Mr Tumble). Click on the link below to listen....
We are exceptionally honoured and excited to be part of this year's #LetMeIn Festival at the Rose Theatre Kingston.
This is a festival presenting work by, for, and young people with a range of physical, learning and sensory needs. Now in its 6th year, the Rose's inclusive festival will involve our personal heroes: Oily Cart, as well as Turtle Key Arts, and students from the The Orpheus Centre.
We will be performing both 'Little Meerkat's Big Panic' and 'You, The Loo, And Nappy-Nappy Noos', as well as creating a bespoke sensory tour of the theatre!
Things don't really get much more awesome than this!
For more info, click the link: https://www.rosetheatrekingston.org/whats-on/let-me-in…