I do not know how he came to acquire the nick-name ‘Egg’ but ever since he came along, that’s what my youngest son has been called. I run The Sensory Projects www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk (which should now really be called The Sensory Projects and Sons!) My work focuses on people with profound disabilities and sensory differences, but my son’s advice will apply to your work too.
Lillie Neilson is one of my sensory heroes, she worked teaching children with profound and multiple learning disabilities in Denmark from the 1980s up until her death in 2013. One of her great inventions is the “Little Room”. Think of a baby’s jungle gym, the baby lies beneath it and objects are hung above the baby for them to explore. The Little Room is like this but times 100, and the things dangling around to be explored are so much more interesting.
Lillie used Little Rooms with children with profound disabilities to help them develop reaching skills and an awareness of their bodies in space. Baby gyms present items to the hands, Little rooms have stuff to explore everywhere. They are a valuable resource for all children as they explore the world around them, combined with the access to weird and wonderful sensory resources, being in an enclosed space can be enabling for some children. Being tucked away in a little room can feel safe and secure, children love den building and playing hiding games. This is like a sensory version of that.
You do not have to have a big budget to create a little room. This is ours, it is a clothes airer with some coloured cellophane draped over it for me to look through and some items hanging from it. When I reach out for them I can slide them along the rails and make noise. I am fascinated.
You can make a little room out of a pop up tent, tie some string between the tent poles to hang stuff, or fasten things to the side of the tent.
You can make a little room underneath a table. Tie string around the table securely to give you something to dangle things from.
You do not need fancy sensory equipment, my favourite things to explore were all things Mummy found in the kitchen.
Smalls airers or coat hangers can be great things to use to dangle items off.
Of course make sure you supervise children all the time when they are using these spaces and be very aware of the risk of strangulation from cords that are too long. To keep things as safe as possible use a length of thread about the same length as a child’s forearm.
(These words first appeared on Jo’s Facebook profile you are welcome to send her a friend request to watch out for more insight www.Facebook.com/JoannaGraceTSP):
And a little extra advice from my younger self (yes, that’s me) boxes make great little rooms!
Joanna provides online and in person training relating to sensory engagement and sensory differences, look up www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk/online-college for more information. To view a list of her books visit www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk/books Follow Jo on social media to pick up new sensory insights, you’ll find her at: @Jo3Grace on Twitter, www.Facebook.com/JoannaGraceTSP and www.Linkedin/In/JoannaGraceTheSensoryProjects
Joanna Grace is an international Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker and founder of The Sensory Projects.
Consistently rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted, Joanna has taught in mainstream and special-school settings, connecting with pupils of all ages and abilities. To inform her work, Joanna draws on her own experience from her private and professional life as well as taking in all the information she can from the research archives. Joanna’s private life includes family members with disabilities and neurodivergent conditions and time spent as a registered foster carer for children with profound disabilities.
Joanna has published four practitioner books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms: Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory Stories for Children and Teens”, “Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings” and “Sharing Sensory Stories and Conversations with People with Dementia”. and two inclusive sensory story children’s books: “Voyage to Arghan” and “Ernest and I”. There is new book coming out soon called ‘”The Subtle Spectrum” and her son has recently become the UK’s youngest published author with his book, “My Mummy is Autistic”.