Engaging sensory learning techniques – outside the sensory room!

Whichever curriculum or pathway you use, one of the first steps will be based on the student actually noticing stimuli around them. But for many of our pupils with profound and multiple difficulties, sensory and cognitive problems mean that ordinary objects, toys, images or even people provide insufficient stimuli to capture their attention. They require an exaggerated stimulus.  Using the sensory equipment available can provide a sensory experience strong enough  to register on the pupil’s sensory abilities.

Try these different techniques to engage a pupil more in their learning!

  1. ‘Back’ projection and an accessible image.

Shine the projected image onto a white sheet or umbrella.  Place or position the umbrella or sheet in between the projector and the child/adult. This ensures that the child is looking at the brightest point of light. It also means that the image can be positioned much  closer to the child, so it is within their communication zone, rather than on a wall which may be outside of their communication zone.

  1. Reach and grasp with glitter sticks/tocki tubes.

Placing the tube on a black, white or reflective surface to encourage visual location, hand eye coordination and grasping skills.  Using a UV tocki under UV light or torch will also create a bright visual effect to develop fixations and tracking skills.

  1. Fibre optics and story telling.

Use fibre optics to complement a Harry Potter scenario where the children have to ‘Guess the colours in the magic stream and see them light as if a dream’. Awareness, recognition and matching the colours is a fun activity especially when learned with unique tools like fibre-optics.

  1. Umbrellas and safe spaces.

The umbrella provides a good screen that isolates the student from other activities, reducing the anxiety/distraction caused by other students moving close by. A black ‘brolly’ will provide a good contrast for visual effects. Using a white umbrella gives the opportunity for a clear projected image.  Perhaps shielding the learner from visual bombardment allows space to calm and focus on a different activity entirely.

  1. iPads and music creation

A music making app for all learners, but especially appropriate for those with less dexterity and less well developed fine motor control, is ‘AirVox’by Yonach software.  AirVox requires you to lay the iPad flat and responds to hand movements over the iPad. The app converts the hand movement into musical tones. There are options to save music created as a .wav file and then export it to other audio applications or onto a computer.

Richard Hirstwood