Sensology sessions are designed to awaken the senses and gently introduce our students to new experiences. This is achieved by gradually introducing new and unfamiliar sounds, textures, tastes, visuals, and smells. Our aim is for the students to build tolerance to new sensory experiences so that they can participate fully in the world; outside of their own comfort zones.
Benefits of Sensology
PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) can be used in a variety of situations to help students to communicate their needs and wants as well as aid spoken language. Students exchange pictures to gain the object they want, whether that be a solid item such as a ball or a concept such as “more”. As students move through the stages of PECS their understanding of vocabulary will grow.
At Holbrook we aim for all students to be successful communicators starting in the early stages of picture exchange, we provide opportunities to request motivating items whether this be different toys or activities they can join in with. As the students move through the different stages of PECS they become independent communicators and we continue to provide them with opportunities to practice these skills in a range of different environments.
Attention Autism is an intervention designed by Gina Davies, which aims to develop attention and spontaneous speech. Attention Autism has 4 stages that aim to be visually pleasing and motivating activities. The main purposes of Attention Autism are:
Stage 1– Bucket
The bucket is filled with engaging objects and toys which only the adult can touch. The aim is to gain the shared attention of the group. The adult leader enthusiastically shows each item to the group and uses simple repetitive vocabulary to comment on the various objects.
Stage 2– Attention Builder
A visually stimulating activity, carried out by the adult leader with the aim of sustaining attention for a relatively long period. The activities are fun, visually engaging and can often involve delightful mess!
Stage 3 –Turn taking
This is an engaging activity where the group members will take turns to join in. It can be stimulating or calming. This teaches the students how to shift their attention to their own individual participation in the group.
Stage 4-Independent Activity
The aim is for the student to watch an activity being modelled, take that activity away and complete it as independently as possible, then return to the group with their completed activity.
Further information can be found by visiting the Gina Davies website.
Sensory processing relates to how our students perceive the world through their senses. All of our students experience this differently, and need varying levels of support to help them engage with learning and every day experiences. Staff work in collaboration with both the occupational therapist and parents to assess needs and inform a sensory diet for each student. At school, we employ a multi-faceted approach to supporting our students with sensory processing. This includes providing appropriate equipment, a calm learning environment, and functional learning opportunities.
As part of the curriculum, sensory opportunities form part of the learning experience for our students and include fine and gross motor activities, physical activity, movement breaks and sensology sessions (learning using the senses). We recognise that physical activity contributes greatly in supporting the sensory needs of our students and the use of climbing equipment, bikes, scooters, swings and trampolines is an important part of the day. We aim to provide our students with the tools to both cope with their sensory processing needs and thrive at both school and their time beyond.
Makaton is a method of communication that can be used as either the main form of communication or to support the development and understanding of speech. The Makaton signs are used alongside speech, in spoken word order, so that they support the development of students’ verbal communication and help students with no or unclear speech.
Within school, we use the signs as part of our total approach to communication. By using the signs with all students, it gives them an alternative way to communicate with peers in their class and across the whole school. Staff model signs throughout the school day and signs are also taught to students. Each week there is a sign of the week that students are shown and encouraged to use when communicating. This allows them to gradually build their knowledge of signs. The sign of the week is also shared with parents and carers through Seesaw to enable them to understand the signs being used by their child and increase their own knowledge.
For parents and carers wishing to develop their knowledge of Makaton, there are a number of useful online resources.
• The Makaton charity website https://makaton.org/
• The Singing Hands Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/SingingHandsUK
• The Singing Hands website https://singinghands.co.uk/
• Something Special (Mr Tumble) CBeebies page https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/joinin/something-special-getting-started-with-makaton and https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/shows/something-special