Are you SensationALL?

SensationALL is a small charity with big ideas and we are growing… which gives us the opportunity to add to our team!

We are currently recruiting for the following posts, based at the Old Schoolhouse, Westhill:

  • Service Practitioner
  • Sessional Support Worker

The successful candidates will be joining a dynamic, innovative and friendly team who provide support, advice and training in the field of multiple support needs (MSN) for people of all ages. You will work in a supportive environment, where you will be encouraged to bring new ideas to the table and put them into practice and watch things grow!

The Service Practitioner will be degree level qualified in a relevant field (Occupational / Speech Therapy,  Psychology, Teaching or similar) and will have a professional registration, such as HCPC, GTLS or SSSC. They will have some experience of working with children or adults with a disability and be able to evidence an appreciation of complex needs. They will have strong team skills; will enjoy researching and developing new ideas and will work towards leading some of our MSN sessions.

A detailed job description and person specification is available via email.

The Sessional Support Worker will have experience in working with young people and or adults with support needs and hold a qualification in that field or be willing to work towards one. They will have experience of leading small groups and activities and show an understanding and appreciation of MSN. Experience of working with volunteers is desirable but not essential.

A detailed job description and person specification is available via email.

These posts are offered on a temporary basis with the aim of making them permanent; selection will be based on CV review, with successful candidates being invited to interview and a relevant practical skills test. Interviews are likely to be held during the week commencing 2nd April 2018.

Read more about SensationALL here and see how full services here, you can also see 

To apply for either of the positions, please email a CV with covering letter to info@sensationall.org.uk by 30th March. #SensationALL

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Sensory Playgroup Round Up

Our first Sensory Playgroup of 2018 is done and dusted! This is a relatively new group for SensationALL and ran once towards the end of 2017. This session ran on Thursday mornings for a 4-week block and was fully booked within weeks of being announced! The next session for term 1 starts on 01st March and runs on a Thursday from 1pm – 2pm (01 March to 22nd March).

The Sensory Playgroup is held in the Old Schoolhouse and run by experienced practitioners. Each week is themed and the group spend time in our soft play room and the sensory room too.

In this recent block we followed four themes:

  1. Transport
  2. Farm Yard
  3. Monsters
  4. Rainbow

Each week we had different sensory trays exploring textures, smells and surfaces that related to the theme. We also had a sensory story for each theme and ended the sessions with a period of relaxation for the children, this usually took place in our Sensory Room or the soft play room.

Here’s what some of the parents and carers had to say about out recent Sensory Playgroup:                                                                                                                                                                                                          

“…I feel that as they [SensationALL service practitioners] use Makaton it helps enforce using it and it’s the only group we’ve been to that uses it.”

“…I don’t feel like my child is the ‘odd’ one out at this group, it’s more inclusive and not judging.”

“It’s a chance to meet other parents.”

“…useful to guide and play with him at home.”

“The ideas and knowledge of the staff are great strengths of the group.”

“The group is very relaxed and accepting. Positive and progressive approach for the child.”

We had amazing feedback from our parents and carers and the children enjoyed exploring the different sensory experiences available to them. We can’t wait to start the next block!  

To sign up for the next block of Sensory Playgroup (01 March to 22 March from 1pm to 2pm), please email info@sensationall.org.uk or telephone 01224 746699 #SensationALL

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Stay-and-Play at SensationALL

The SensationALL team have been running stay-and-play sessions since November 2011. The play sessions take place in the Old School House, Westhill, and run twice a month on alternating Sunday’s, families book a time slot and “stay and play” for an hour, our qualified Service Practitioners are on hand too.

First Term 2018 Stay-and-Play dates:-

  1. Sunday, 03rd June
  2. Sunday, 17th June
  3. Sunday, 01st July

The Old Schoolhouse has a soft play area, a sensory room and a coffee lounge area, all-inclusive is the driving force behind our charity and we welcome ASN (additional sensory needs) children and their siblings to our play sessions.

Stay-and-play sessions cater for both families based in Aberdeen City and Shire, but also for those on holiday in the North East or travelling through. Play is vital for child development and soft play is a great environment for children to develop motor skills, particularly those gross motor skills such as jumping, spinning and running.

The sessions give children with MSN (multi sensory needs) the opportunity to to be stimulated and explore their surroundings in a safe and friendly environment with experienced and knowledgeable Service Practitioners. It is also a great chance to meet other parents/carers and for siblings to join in the fun too!

SensationALL Services Practitioner, Mhairi says: “giving a child with MSN regular visits to a sensory environment such as SensationALL’s safe sensory room where they can be supported by experienced staff and attending the stay-and-play sessions in the Old Schoolhouse can help stimulate senses, help children relax and explore new experiences and build sensory tolerances”.

Email info@sensationall.org.uk  or contact 01224 746699 to book a stay-and-play session. #SensationALL

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CATS Management volunteers in DIY-SOS style challenge

Volunteers from Aberdeen-based midstream infrastructure business CATS Management Limited (CML), took on their own DIY SOS style challenge last week by giving a makeover to the facilities of Westhill-based charity, SensationALL.

A team from CML rolled up their sleeves and threw themselves into two days of DIY activities including painting, gardening, and general housekeeping and maintenance at SensationALL’s centre at the Old School and Schoolhouse in Westhill.

CML also donated £5000, which has been used to purchase a summer house. The summer house will be the focal point in the redevelopment of the centre’s outdoor space and will provide an additional area for activities like gardening, crafts and a safe, quiet space for many of SensationALL’s service users who benefit from a low stimulating environment.

SensationALL provides therapeutic activities and specialist support for individuals with disabilities or “multiple support needs” (MSN), their families and associated professionals. In 2016, the charity acquired the Old School and Schoolhouse building from Aberdeenshire Council, and is working to transform it into a purpose-built facility.

Andy Hessell, managing director of CATS Management Limited said: “We wanted to get involved with a local, independent charity, where our financial and hands-on support could really make a difference, and SensationALL fits the bill perfectly.

“The passion, drive and commitment of the SensationALL team is at the heart of everything they do, and their work has such a positive impact on the lives of so many individuals and families across Aberdeen city and shire.”

SensationALL’s operational team lead, Suz Strachan said: ” Being a small, developing charity, all financial support from companies, individual donations or fundraising has a considerable impact on our service deliverables and helps contribute to our continued sustainability. We are particularly grateful to companies like CML who, at this challenging time in the oil and gas industry, have made a deliberate effort to support a small, local charity.

“The summer house that their donation has allowed us to purchase will be a great asset for all our groups, out of school provision and service users of all ages who have multiple support needs and disabilities.”

Andy Hessell added: “We are delighted to be working with SensationALL to help improve their facilities at Westhill and I would encourage other companies to come along and find out more about the charity, and how they might be able to help, whether that’s by providing financial support, or hands-on assistance.

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Top tips for going back-to-school

As the summer holidays draw to a close, the anticipation for the start of school grows. For parents and children alike, the start of school, and all that will come in the first term, can be more than daunting.

Getting used to a new teacher, finding the way around school again, following routines and school structures (which had been long forgotten in the North East summer sunshine or rain) and catching up with friends.

It is a busy and exhausting time for any child, but for those with additional or multiple support needs (ASN/MSNs) it can be especially draining.

Here at SensationALL, we have had our thinking caps on to come up with some of our TOP TIPS for going back to school.

1. Explore Emotions

This is a difficult one to address, but as important as getting the school bag ready and uniform on.

Children with MSNs may feel that they are the only one finding it hard, the only one who doesn’t fit in, the only one forgetting their pencil, jotter, gym kit or the only one feeling scared. The idea of being “the only one” is as untrue as there being a “perfect person”.

Explore the concerns, worries and challenges your child may have: relieving anxieties by talking through situations, particularly those relating to socializing and making new friends.

Discuss and share practical ways they can try to address these concerns. Highlight that their peers are likely to feel the same. They won’t be “the only one” and building awareness that others may feel the same can bring about feelings of inclusion and comfort.

2. Get familiar

For children with sensory sensitivities it is really important to put in the prep work ahead of the school term starting.

Try on new uniforms, cut out labels if required, wash them a few times so they are familiar and soft and build up tolerance by wearing them around the house. This goes for new school shoes too!

Don’t stop at clothing and shoes, try out any new items like water bottles, lunch boxes, school bags, pencil cases etc.

The more familiar and tolerant your child is to the items which will be a constant throughout their school days, hopefully the better they can cope with the range of new sensory inputs they will experience. Remember to include any calming strategy/resource they might have.

3. Organisation

Whether you are helping an older child develop their organisational skills, or you’re organising for a younger child, this will help with the ease of transitioning back into the school day.

Practice getting the bag organised the week before, packed lunch, lunch card, gym kit, use visuals and checklists where appropriate. The smoother the morning operation runs, the lower the stress and anxiety levels all round!

For any child, turning up to school and finding out you’ve forgotten something can cause a great deal of distress and impact learning. Older children should take a very active part in organising themselves for school as this will contribute towards being more independent, and learning these skills young builds confidence and a great foundation for later.

4. Go along beforehand

If your child is starting at a new school, and/or finds settling into different environments challenging, get in contact with the school to go along the week before if possible.

This can be really helpful if physical disability presents an added worry to the child, for example, getting through the corridors, around the playground, getting to the lunch hall and very importantly to most children, actually getting lunch!!!

Identifying safe or quiet areas can also help alleviate anxiety and help develop proactive It can act as a trial run before the hustle and bustle, a good opportunity to familiarise and to try out different strategies to help your child throughout the school day.

5. Visual structure

Try putting together a picture wall chart for home, showing your child each day or the week ahead, what’s expected on each day, i.e. gym or maths or reading. After school activities can go up here if there are any and weekend ones too.

This can help children see the “bigger picture”, that maybe Tuesday isn’t a great day, but on Thursday they get to go to the gym hall or book store. A week can seem a long time, but breaking it down into days can help your child know what to expect and look forward to the days ahead.

6. Recap the positives

At the end the day, before lights out and bed, try recapping on the day’s positives, like “You did really well with completing your homework”, or even if the positive is a general, “You went to school today”. Find the positive and let it be the last thing to go through their head before drifting off to sleep. This will prepare and support the next day.

***

It goes without saying that school transitions can be anxiety provoking and challenging and usually a learning curve for all. A few basic strategies can sometimes make all the difference. Encouragement and enthusiasm can be key to reassurance and confidence building.

We hope the ‘back to school’ transition goes smoothly and we are looking forward to hearing about it! #SensationALL

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It’s a SensationALL summer!

The summer holidays are just around the corner and we have a jam packed timetable of summer activities. Here’s what’s happening over the holidays, keep up to date on a weekly basis via our Facebook page or sign up to our monthly enewsletter. See you at the SensationALL summer!

The SingAlong Cinema

We have a big screen, bean bags and comfy seating for watching and singing along to the films! Make your own popcorn and popcorn holders too. £15 per film.

Beauty and the Beast on Monday 17th July from 2.00pm to 4.30pm
Hairspray on Monday 14th August from 2.00pm to 4.30pm

Sensory Treasure Hunt

Grab your pirate hat and map and follow the sensory clues to find the hidden treasure! £15 and includes a hidden treasure.
Tuesday 18th July from 10.30am to 12.30pm

Dance and Disco

It’s the SensationALL summer disco and dance-a-long! Glowsticks, disco music and dance-along-videos. £15 and includes a snack.

Wednesday 19th July from 4.00pm to 6.00pm

Wednesday 16th August from  4.00pm to 6.00pm

Under the Sea Music Therapy Session
A favourite for the children! Under the sea crafts, musical instruments and songs. £15 and includes a snack.

Thursday 20th July from 2.00pm to 4.00pm

Up in the Sky Music Therapy Session
We went Under the Sea, time to travel Up in the Sky with a themed-music therapy session with crafts and musical instruments. £15 and includes a snack.

Thursday 10th August from 2.00pm to 4.00pm

Lego/board game groups

Join the SensationALL team for some lego and board games. £5 per child, per session.
Monday 24th July  from 2.00pm to 3.00pm

Monday 31st July from 2.00 to 3.00pm.  

Outdoor Games Group

Looking for sunshine for our Outdoor Games Group! £10 to join in the outdoor games morning session.
Friday 3rd August from 10.30am to 12.30pm

See you at the SensationALL summer!

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We get by with a little help from our friends!

It’s Volunteers Week in Scotland and we have taken the chance to give our volunteers an extra thank you! The SensationALL team couldn’t do what they do without their help. Volunteering for us comes in many shapes and sizes – you can give your time (even an hour for a play session is a massive help), you can give your time from your business (not sure if you have noticed we are in the process of a massive renovation project…hint, hint), you can help with set ups, tidy ups, making tea, running / cycling for us in charity events or donations! Continue reading

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Apache donation to fund new state-of-the-art sensory room

Kingswells-based, Apache North Sea Limited, has donated £30,000 to SensationALL for the renovation and repurposing of our sensory room.

As part of Apache’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme, they have awarded the charity funds for the design and installation of a new sensory room.   The donation will go towards the renovation and repurposing of the Sensory room, transforming the space into a state-of-the-art, interactive area designed around user needs. Continue reading

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Christmas With Multiple Support Needs: 10 Top Tips For Avoiding Stress This Festive Season

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christmas-with-multiple-support-needs-10-tips-for-avoiding-stress-this-festive-season

1. Keep routines going to avoid the hype of the “countdown” to Christmas

Whilst some may cope with the “countdown to Christmas”, knowing your child, you may find it easier to play this down if it is likely to increase their stress. Either way, it is very hard to ignore these days when it is on TV, in the shops and in schools, so try to keep as many of their routines going as possible over this period.

2. Plan for when things get too much

Plan for your child’s potential behaviour triggers, consider what can be avoided or reduced to a minimum, and think about where they can go or what they can do if things get too much. It can be a very overstimulating day, with lots of ‘new things’ to deal with, so plan some quiet, low-stimulus times throughout the day.

3. Set aside time for them to do what THEY enjoy

Our version of enjoyment might be quite different from our child’s, so try to factor in times where they can engage in their own interests.

4. Allow them to sit back and watch

Your child may be happier watching the larger family group activities from a periphery, such as having their Christmas dinner on a small table nearby, if they struggle with too many people in close proximity.

5. Help family members choose suitable presents

Help family members choose suitable presents that match your child’s interests or developmental stage. Also, let them know you may not open them all on Christmas day, as this may be overwhelming.

Some useful ideas for sensory items may be found on Special Needs Toys. For wheelchair users, try Have Wheelchair Will Travel‘s Christmas gift ideas, and for children with multiple and complex needs there are some excellent sensory stories created by Scope storybooks for special needs children. There are also some fun and educational apps for phones and tablets.

If family members are struggling to think of ideas, you could always suggest an afternoon or evening of babysitting, to allow you time to go for a meal, cinema, spa or similar treat.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Better to have a happy relaxed family day than worry about having everything perfect. The people that love and care about you will understand what is important!

7. Accept offers of help and make life easier for yourself

Take advantage of any shortcuts or offers of help with catering, shopping online or looking after children on the day. Remember, if your child only eats certain foods then this is not the day to try to change his/her diet, so have on offer what they will eat.

8. Look after yourselves!

Take some time to recharge your batteries and to relax! Check out some mindfulness and relaxation techniques or go for a walk, as physical exercise is excellent at de-stressing. Treat yourself to some time out!

9. Prepare a visual timetable or short Social Story

Prepare a visual timetable for the day or the holiday if this will help your child know the plans for each day and thereby reduce their anxiety or stress. Making a short Social Story about Christmas can also help them learn and understand what will be happening and can suggest some coping strategies for the potential ‘trigger points’. Here are some great resources from The Success Box.

10. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Don’t set your expectations too high and put pressure on yourself to do too much over the holiday period. Have fun and enjoy yourself, as it is the simple things in life that are most important.

Merry Christmas from everyone at SensationALL!

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How to create a sensory space on a budget

Many people have the perception that designing and creating a dedicated sensory space can be unachievable due to space and financial restraints, but this isn’t necessarily the case. You can achieve so much regardless of the amount of space you have, or the amount of money you have available to spend. We’ve pulled together some ideas that will get the ball rolling for your superb new sensory space.

Space need not be an issue

The term ‘sensory room’ can be a little daunting, as it suggests an entire room is required. But smaller sensory spaces can be equally effective, and much more practical for most families.

Take a look at the space you do have available, and think about how you could make it perfect for your loved one. Is there a corner you could transform into a dedicated sensory space, or perhaps a spacious cupboard that you could convert?

If you’re only converting a portion of a room, make sure to purchase some heavy material to hang like a curtain. This adds a sense of privacy and ownership, and the heavier material will help reduce sound interference, which is incredibly important.

Sensory items don’t have to break the bank

Carefully selecting items for this space is important, as each person and their needs are unique. The first thing to do is observe what items and activities they are most drawn to during their ‘free-play’ or a sensory based session, or with their therapist, and replicate this into your own space.

We know so many recommended items for home sensory rooms can be pricey, but we’ve pulled together some low-cost alternatives:

  • While swings and trampolines can be effective additions to any sensory space, they can also come with a hefty price tag. A good alternative can be a rocking chair or exercise ball or Buso ball, which can promote vestibular stimulation for a fraction of the price.
  • Adding a glow to your space does not need to be expensive – you can get your hands on some cheap fairy-lights, fibre optic space lights, rope or LED lights, net lighting and mini projectors or disco dome-lighting, and these can totally transform your space. Or what about digging out your twinkling Christmas lights from the loft? These would also work!
  • Tactile materials can be gathered from everyday items such as pot scrubbers, carpet or material squares, or even knitted squares in different wool textures. Using a tray with dried ingredients, such as pasta, cereal, sand, water and shaving foam or cream, jelly, cornflour mix or angel delight if they will mouth items. You can also add different textures to the foam etc. to add interest. Using sealed bottles, bags or containers of coloured gel/water or rice to hide items of interest in, such as toy figures/lego/pompoms etc. or using highlighter pens to colour water, will make this fluorescent under a UV lamp or torch.
  • Cause & effect toys are great especially if they will move, spin, light up or make a sound. Some are activated by push/pull actions which are ideal for early learners. As they develop to more complex ‘electrical’ gadgets/items such as lighting effects/fans/vibration mats or similar, then it may be worth considering a ‘switch adapter controller’. This allows any mains electrical equipment to be operated safely through a simple switch device.
  • Don’t be afraid to do a spot of DIY! Hand crafting items for your sensory area can save you money, and provide fun for you both. And the list of things you can make is endless, from sensory boards and blocks, to glitter bottles and sensory bags.

Pinterest can be your best friend

Pinterest is a fantastic tool to find clever and unique ideas for your sensory space, and can provide step-by-step guides for creating things.

You can search for sensory room ideas and find a whole host of pins from people across the world. Here’s a great board that we came across: https://uk.pinterest.com/marmarhughes/cheap-sensory-room-ideas/.

The important thing to remember is that building the perfect sensory area is an ongoing process, and you will be constantly building and adding to it to make it better, and suit the evolving needs of your loved one. So don’t get disheartened by high costs or lack of space – there are so many positive things you can do that will have huge benefits.

Here at SensationALL we run regular training workshops and sensory sessions to help understand why sensory experiences are so important for many of our children and adults with multiple support needs. We love to share our experience and ideas on helping to meet your individual’s unique sensory needs.

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