Sensory Structured and Safe

Getting the environment right so that children on the autism spectrum can flourish!

With Richard Hirstwood and Chris Barson.

The sessions.

Just how sensory is autism?  Chris Barson

There is a growing body of evidence from the classroom, from individuals and from research that the sensory sensitivity, processing and perceptual difficulties in autism are core to the condition. Chris will explore the dimensions of sensory difference in students on the spectrum.

Delegates will:

  • Have an insight into the personal sensory experiences of children with autism
  • Understand the neurological basis of sensory differences
  • Understand the current research into autism and sensory differences

Creating sensory learning spaces for pupils with autism – Richard Hirstwood

For sensory ‘seekers’ and ‘avoiders’, Richard will look at how you can remodel your learning space to create a ‘sensory specific’ autism friendly learning environment.  We’ll cover a range of ideas & strategies, which will enable you to create sensory environments that build on the individual’s learning strengths – from the biggest to the very smallest sensory spaces.

Delegates will:

  • Experience the affects and emotions of varied colour and lighting
  • Understand the effects of sound intrusion on learners with ASD
  • Understand how to create spaces which inspire readiness for learning
  • How create flexible and creative classroom to encourage a engaging communication

An environment that works FOR me! Chris Barson

Structured communication, structured environments and a structured programme are the goal in autism. Like scaffolding round a building that’s in trouble they prevent disaster and enable access so we can get some useful work into the project. Chris will talk you through why this approach works and how to import the techniques straight into your school or setting.

Delegates will:

  • Understand why a structured approach is needed and why it works
  • Have an appreciation of what they can do to change communication, environment and curriculum to get better outcomes

Environmental Audit session – Richard Hirstwood.

Environmental influences can have a huge impact on successful learning for a pupil with autism, who may experience sensory sensitivity, processing and perceptual differences.  Richard shares an ‘Environmental Audit’, which will tell you how “autism/sensory impairment friendly” your classroom/learning space is – and how you can adapt this.  Richard will also offer practical advice on increasing or decreasing sensory stimulus for learners who need specific cues to help pupils make ‘sense’ of their environment.

Delegates will:

  • Understand how to use the environmental assessment tool and interpret the results effectivity
  • Have the confidence to change your learning space to make it more successful for your learners and to be able to validate your reasons for doing so

Safety on the spectrum – Chris Barson

Why can’t kids with autism see danger coming? There are particular cognitive differences in autism that make it hard to see ‘an accident waiting to happen’. We need to provide a school environment that ensures physical safety. It’s also true that children with ASC find people hard to figure out. The problems with ‘mind-reading’ mean that autistic youngsters have extra vulnerability and need an additional layer of child protection to keep them safe. Chris will discuss with you why this is the case and help you form strategies that will keep these great kids happy, healthy and safe.

Delegates will:

  • Have an appreciation of the cognitive differences that make children with autism particularly vulnerable
  • Understand how to improve perception of danger and self regulation in children with autism
Who will be presenting?

Richard Hirstwood is the founder and principal tutor for Hirstwood Training. His training courses have, and continue to be, experienced worldwide. His extensive experience is based on practical knowledge, giving him insight into what works and what doesn’t in multi sensory practice. Regular sessions with children and adults with autism and all additional needs in a variety of multi sensory rooms, and more recently iPads, enable him to maintain this level of excellent practice. His YouTube channels are viewed by over one million people every year and he constantly updates his ideas movies and papers. He was the co-author of ‘The practical guide to multi sensory rooms’ in 1995 and has continued to create both offline and online content, his latest being a 7 hour online training course for iPads. His enthusiasm for his subject and his sensory skills are endless!

Chris Barson founded ‘Positive about Autism’ in January 2009. Prior to that Chris was the External Training Manager with the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom. Chris has contributed to the design and delivery of courses provided by Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Cumbria, Open University and Napier University Edinburgh.  Chris went to work at the Royal College of General Practitioners, in 2000, where he managed professional development and quality programmes.  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) His wealth of experience in the field of autism has made him a major asset to Hirstwood Training. Chris is often featured on Hirstwood Training’s YouTube channel and his video work with Richard is of the highest quality. Chris is also a fantastic and dynamic presenter with a lively but informative style.

When and where?

24 November 2017  – NCVO, London

Who should come to this? This will be appropriate for colleagues from special schools, mainstream schools, EYFS services and adult provision who are working with those with pupils with Autism, and who wish to expand their sensory approaches to learning, improve their sensory environments to increase engagement in learning and inclusion.

Course notes: All pertinent presentations and movies from the day will be available to you on our website, so that you can continue your learning journey after the end of the day – and to share with your colleagues!

Times & housekeeping: We begin the day from 9am with coffee and registration.  Presentations will begin at 9.30am and finish around 3.30pm.

All refreshments and a lovely lunch are provided!

Cost: £245 plus VAT per place, including refreshments & lunch


9.30am Welcome & Introductions.

9.45am Just how sensory is autism?  Chris Barson

10.15am Creating sensory spaces for pupils with autism – Richard Hirstwood

10.45am COFFEE

11.00am Creating sensory spaces for pupils with autism:  continued

11.30am An environment that works FOR me! – Chris Barson

12.30 pm LUNCH

1.30pm   An environment that works FOR me! – Chris Barson

2.00pm Environmental Audit session – Richard Hirstwood

2.45pm TEA

3.00pm Safety on the spectrum – Chris Barson

3.30pm Close of day