On the back of the Apache North Sea Limited donation to SensationALL, the local charity has reopened the newly refurbished Sensory Room!

As part of Apache’s Corporate Outreach Programme, the Kingswells-based company awarded the charity £30,000 and the donation went towards the renovation and repurposing of the Sensory room, transforming the old Sensory room into a state-of-art interactive space, with a higher specification and bespoke design around the user-needs.

The room was closed for almost a two week period whilst the redevelopment project was underway.

Suz Strachan, SensationALL Operational Team Lead, talks us through the transition of the Sensory Room and what the donation and new space means to the users : “we’ve managed for a number of years with second hand goods and a makeshift set up, starting off by revamping a cleaning cupboard in rented premises in 2012!”

Suz continues: “We now have more opportunities for users to control their environment; to use switches, self generating noise and Bluetooth technology to do so. We use this in combination with low tech resources and utilise the environment to engage in learning, offer choices and use an intensive interactive approach to promote optimal communication with all our users. The upgrading of our room brings us one step closer to achieving an inclusive flagship facility, with a community focus and reflects the specialist sensory based services that we provide.”

SensationALL evolved from the closure of the Raeden Centre (a facility for children with complex needs in Aberdeen) in the Summer of 2011 and the team originally rented facilities in Lawsondale where they ran family support sessions and hosted play sessions in the soft play centre; they became a registered Scottish charity in 2012.

In 2016, the team acquired the Old School and Schoolhouse building to transform into a purpose-built facility for the provision of specialist services and therapeutic activities for MSN users, as well as community facilities, including an out of school club and rooms available to community groups and local businesses.

The donation from Apache has enabled SensationALL to widen the benefits of use to more of their service users and takes the charity one step closer to their dream.

Patricia Paterson, Executive Assistant at Apache, opened the new Sensory Room and said: “I am absolutely delighted with the transformation of the old sensory room into a state of the interactive multi-purpose room!  Apache are privileged to have been able to make a difference in improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities”

You can view the clip of the Sensory Room renovation project here! #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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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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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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