Big Autism Play Day 4!

A jam-packed day full of ideas about how to support a child’s social, emotional & communication development by building on their sensory profile & interests – through play!

Learning Outcomes

  • introduction to the play style in autism
  • understanding the patterns of difficulties & differences in autism and how to use this to develop learning and play
  • tailoring your communication & environment to support play
  • building solid support strategies for pupils with autism to develop communication, interaction & engagement
  • creating connections with others
  • identifying potential barriers to play & ways to overcome these
  • creating appropriate sensory spaces
  • using vibration & ‘clonker boards’ to develop joint attention and participation
  • creating irresistible sensory toys ‘on a shoestring’
  • hands & hand play – how to engage and explore

9.30am Welcome & Introductions.
9.45am – 10.30am ‘Playing different, learning different, thinking different: breaking down barriers to play’ – Chris Barson. He seems in a little world of his own. She doesn’t seem to notice me. Whatever I offer it never seems to be as good as her toy giraffe, that’s all she wants to do. Sound familiar? If it does you’ll be feeling that frustrated feeling we all get from time to time. Let’s explore ways to get that glint in the eye of a little one on the spectrum and maximise focus, communication and connection.
10.30am – 11.15am ‘Hands on? Hands off?’ – Carol Allen. Hands are crucial in play.  They are how we experience the world around us; how we identify, manipulate and use objects and how we create magic, even language!   For the learner with Autism hands are a primary focus, they frequently provide calming stimming opportunities, they may be protected and held back from unwanted sensory experiences and yet as a complete contradiction, fully engaged with other sensory experiences – often those that are not viewed by others as acceptable.   This practical session will look at hands and hand play.  How do we release the hands to engage in the most useful learning opportunities?
11.15am COFFEE
11.30am – 12.15pm ‘It’s a material world – making irresistible sensory toys’ – Judy Denziloe. Ever wondered how to make irresistible play resources that kids with autism will just have to engage with? Judy has been amazing youngsters on the spectrum for years. She literally has hundreds of ideas she can’t wait to show you. Be warned – this session will spark your imagination!
12.15pm – 12.30pm ‘Classroom environments to enable sensory play!’ – Richard Hirstwood. Richard takes a brief look at how your classroom environment can be engineered to facilitate sensory play & learning, with ideas you can use tomorrow.
12.30pm – 1.30pm LUNCH

1.30pm – 2.30pm ‘Autism from a person, not just a text book’ – Robyn Steward.  Robyn looks at what is means to autistic, debunks some of the myths & explains the confusing jargon used when discussing autism. Knowledge of autism is essential for building strategies which when implemented, mean learners receive a consistent & holistic approach,which takes into account how autism affects that individual.
2.30pm – 3.15pm ‘The BIG Clonkerboard Workshop’ – Naomi Rosenberg. The Clonkerboard is a colourful resonance board that a child, or group, can sit around or on to experience vibration. It is a multi sensory experience creating the opportunity to see, feel, hear an activity, which encourages engagement, participation and play.  Experience a range of Clonkerboard activities including songs, chants, games, stories, music and drama that will promote relationships and communication, without being demanding.  It’s a great, almost unbreakable, simple resource that is lots of fun and enhances the children’s learning outcomes. And how do children learn? By playing of course!
3.15pm TEA
3.25pm – 4pm ‘Grand Designs! Multi sensory spaces that work!’ – Richard Hirstwood. It doesn’t matter how big the sensory space is – it’s how big the sensory is in the space!  Most learners with autism need  a consistently supportive sensory learning environment at all times.  Understanding how to best use key pieces of multi sensory equipment will maximise the impact of your room or space on your pupil’s learning.
4pm Close & Farewell!

Introducing our guest keynote speaker!
Robyn Steward – ‘Autism from a person, not a textbook.’

Robyn looks at what is means to autistic, debunks some of the myths & explains the confusing jargon used when discussing autism. She argues that knowledge of autism is essential for building strategies which when implemented, mean learners receive a consistent & holistic approach which takes into account how autism affects them as an individual.

Robyn Steward has ten disabilities, including autism, and is still affected by it on a daily basis. However, she has built up an international career as an autism consultant and trainer, friendships and a life. Her disabilities have influenced her lifestyle but she tries to change every negative into a positive and encourages others to do the sameRobyn also helps to change government policies and raise awareness for people on the Autistic spectrum, as a National Autistic Society (NAS) Ambassador.

Our other presenters include:

  • Richard Hirstwood with over 25 years of sensory experience 1.3 million views over 1800 subscibers on YouTube in addition to 40 Vimeo channels developed for schools make him one of the most watched people in special education today. Most of Richards work is now ‘hands on’ and in 2017 he will be working worldwide as well as the U.K. He has a understanding of sensory play developed through hands on experience not reading.
  • Chris Barson After studying drama at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff he started out as a drama tutor with Arts for Disabled People in Wales.  After working with the NAS Regional Development Team, Chris went to work at the Royal College of General Practitioners. Chris rejoined NAS in 2004. Chris has contributed to the design and delivery of courses provided by Canterbury Christ Church University, and University of Cumbria. Chris is a contributing author to ‘The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century:Exploring Psychology, Biology and Practice’ Jessica Kingsley Press 2010 (Highly Commended 2011 BMA Medical Book Awards) He founded Positive About Autism in January 2009 he is one of the most inspirational people to hear .
  • Judy Denzilo For over forty years Judy hase been working in the field of play and leisure for disabled people of all ages. Judy was one of the inovators of the first toy libraries and she is a highly experienced specialist in developing sensory play opportunities for children and adults – bringing a treasure trove of fabulous resources to explore
  • Naomi Rosenberg has been a Teacher of the Deaf for pupils with complex needs with 20 years experience.  Her in depth understanding of hearing loss and its affect on autism has led her to develop sound techniques and ideas around ‘clonker or resonance boards and she has created, and adapted, as wealth of materials to bring music & communication to life.
  • Carol Allen is an Independent Education Consultant.  Recognising that communication lies at the heart of all effective teaching, the majority of her work has centred on creative and engaging use of technology to support communication in its widest sense.
 Why the ‘Big Autism Play Day’?

Evidence seems to suggest that parents get an inkling that their child is on a different. and sometimes unusual, ‘development trajectory’ early on.

It might just be “the way they look at things” or the length of time they spend looking at things. It might be what they spend time looking at. It’s often stuff that other kids don’t seem too interested in. It might also be to do with what they avoid looking at. Like us for instance!

One thing is for sure – young folk with autism have a whole different bunch of systems for finding out about and exploring their world. So it’s vital for parents and practitioners to be able to tune in to the learning strengths and preferences of young people on the spectrum. This might be incorporating special interests to motivate and make learning ‘irresistible’ or bringing  more visual and sensory elements to play. Or more repetition.

How do we get play going with a child who seems to want to be alone? How do we help them to become more regulated, interested and engaged with us? How can we play in a way that will support children’s development and be fun for everyone?

When and where?
17 March 2017 – London
Who should come to this? 

The Big Autism Play Day focuses on supporting pupils aged roughly 2 to 19 years (all abilities) and will be helpful for: Parents, Foster Carers,Teachers, Learning Support Assistants, Early Years Practitioners / Nursery Nurses, Play Workers, Respite / Short Breaks Providers, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and other autism professionals.

Course notes?

All pertinent presentations & documents from the day will be available on our website, for you to continue your learning journey long after the training has finished.

Times & housekeeping: 

The day begins from 9am for coffee and registration, with the presentations starting at 9.30am. We will finish around 4pm. All refreshments & lunch will be provided.

Previous delegates have said:

‘Great team – excellent presentations’ Helen Nicolson, Bexley
‘I enjoyed the pre-course portal – it set the scene well’ Mary Pope, Palatine School
‘This is the best course I’ve ever been on – loved it!’ Steph Knight, Addington School
‘Good balance – loved the practical examples’ Kate Nixon, NAS
‘An inspirational, applicable & energising day’ Esther Knott, Salvation Army
‘More time for play and discussion’ Emma Bennett, Willowdene School
‘Speakers to have longer!’ – Sophie Alldis, Woodlands School
‘Make the course over two days – I’d have loved a second day!’ Hayley Reader, Waverley School


Early Bird Tickets – £245 plus VAT per place BEFORE 17 February 2017, including refreshments & lunch.

Standard Tickets – £275 plus VAT per place AFTER 17 February 2017, including refreshments & lunch.