The Seismic Sensory Project

The Seismic Sensory Project is the fourth of The Sensory Projects and is currently live and will run from Sept 2018 through to Sept 2019.

To facilitate long term positive change for a setting, or an individual, through shaking things up a little!

The Project runs on a model of challenge, support and mentoring. Challenges are set and support is given to meet not only those challenges but also pre-existing challenges faced by that particular setting or person.

We aim to see the impact of the changing landscape ripple outwards to places beyond its original target creating far-reaching positive change.

The first setting. The Seismic Project is working in a school that provides for individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
The first challenge set to this school relates to joy and engagement.
Additional support to meet the challenge is being provided by The Best Medicine.
Pre-existing challenges of practitioner isolation and paperwork burden have been identified and support has been provided to lessen the impact of these.

The first adult. The Seismic Project is working with a "closed off" octogenarian who has spent their entire life in institutions and has no family left to advocate on their behalf.
The first challenge set has been to research through archived records and networked conversations with staff who this person was when they were first placed in care and how they express their joy and sadness in their current state of being. Once this groundwork is in place we will look to gently change the environment around this individual in the hope of incubating a potential future engagement and responsiveness.

The first child. The Seismic Project is working with a mainstream school as they seek to better include a child with a moderate learning disability. 
The first challenge set has been to establish a work routine for the child combined with high expectations of their academic capacity.
Pre-existing challenges of how to respond to certain behaviours and how to involve the child meaningfully in school events have been addressed. 

The first ripples.
On hearing of the work of the Seismic Project in it's first setting a large adult care provider has committed to running it's own Seismic Project challenging its settings to increase sensory provision for their residents. 

There is the potential for settings associated with the first setting via a multi academy trust partnership stand to benefit from a streamlining of paperwork procedures and a greater connection to colleagues nationwide.

The Best Medicine has been investigating the use of laughter with children with profound disabilities and speaking to practitioners and families skilled in the support of these children to gain their insights into what laughter means for them. 

Opportunities for the isolated practitioner from the first setting to network at a National Event and via online communities have seen people further afield benefit from insight into the amazing inclusion work this particular practitioner has been doing, and has also given them the opportunity to hear ideas and insights from others. 

3 month updates

The first setting
In collaboration with the students and staff of the setting The Best Medicine has developed a laughter program for children with profound disabilities. The setting report that the sessions have had a particular impact on certain students who now laugh more frequently within class. This ability to respond joyously to events that are surprising or strange enables the students to tap into their natural resilience and connect with others. Get a glimpse of the first laughter session here.

There has been a marked reduction in the paper work burden but it remains very high.

In order to extend the impact of the progress so far both The Best Medicine and the lead practitioner involved in the project are being encouraged to write up their work and share it online and in print media including the PMLD link journal.

The first adult
Progress has been slow and research is ongoing into the individual's background to inform what we do next.

The first child
The child successfully took part in a whole school production.

A work routine was introduced by means of a social story. The class team support the child in completing this routine and it is currently happening 3-4 times a day.

The school report an increase in concentration and willingness to work and a decrease in behaviour that disrupts other learners. 

The child's mother says: In the space of a few weeks the development has been amazing, there is a marked improvement in her verbal communication, she concentrates better at school, at home she is wanting 4-5 stories and trying to join in with the words. It is like a light has been switched on and she has been given permission to learn."
The educational psychologist reports that it is like observing a different child.

Six month update
The first setting
The class teacher was able to attend Raising the Bar II, Sensory Engagement for Mental Wellbeing and to visit two other specialist provisions - all of which have enabled her to network in a way that will not only benefit her setting but the other settings as well.

She has published an article in the PMLD link Journal, further sharing the great practice which she and her team take part in every day.

We are looking to set a final challenge soon.

Laughter continues to ripple through the classroom.

The first adult
Whilst we were still researching her background the adult began to show increasing distress, having previously always been passive. Health professionals believe her to be suffering from dementia, making our support all the more important. 

We made changes to her morning routine with the intent of it being less distressing for her, and a new chair was purchased to help her feel more secure.

We aim to wrap her in soothing sensory sensations and cradle her through her final years. The setting report that her agitation is much reduced, but still present at some times. We are going to introduce gentle music sessions based around songs she may have heard as a child and hoping to connect her with reassuring times in her past.

Because the provision is all subtle we regularly feel like we are not doing enough for this adult. In the past she did not present with challenging behaviour, she was always passive and broadly compliant, unresponsive, these things combined to make her easy to overlook, a background presence. The setting report that the attention of the project has bought her into focus and staff are being more responsive to her needs.

The first child
The child continues to progress at school, the work routine is well established and is happening 3-4 times an hour during lesson times. We are working on improving her ability to meaningfully engage in the less structured aspects of the day such as play time, and she is increasing her participation in the more formal aspects of the day such as assembly time.

Her mother says she is seeing differences at home: I have seen a real decrease in the amount of paper ripping up and chewing over the past couple of weeks, some days the front room was awash at the end of the day with paper but there is minimal amount after several days without hoovering. We are also seeing her clearly join in with her favourite songs and sing along with most of the words she can say. She still loves her tent. She is definitely making progress.

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