Launch of New book: how to create your own sensory stories for children and teens with special educational needs
We’re really pleased to share the fantastic news that Joanna Grace, who we have worked with on several occasions and backed her Kickstarter campaign last year, has a book out very soon! Joanna is the name behind The Sensory Story Project and has done fantastic work for many years developing her project and her works for a wide range of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
We have talked about Sensory Stories in depth previously but couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off how amazing they are once again, especially as this book is due out in just a few days.
Sensory Stories Kickstarter
Back in May 2013, The Sensory Story Project successfully funded their Kickstarter campaign, gaining over £5,000 in funding. This money was put towards the development of a range of sensory stories that could be adapted and used in different environments for different disabled adults and children. The Kickstarter was a huge success and allowed Joanna to continue her work and keep writing and developing the stories which have provided so much for so many people.
We love that sensory stories are a fun, social way of enjoying storytelling that can be enjoyed by the whole family or classroom and that, if used with a bit of knowhow, can open up communication for people with profound disabilities. Joanna recommends sharing the stories on a one to one basis for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, and adds how well the stories are suited to being presented on a Trabasack.
The Sensory Story Project: The Book
The Sensory Stories for Children and Teens with Special Educational Needs: A Practical Guide book has been designed as a practical guide and is to be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers on the 28th of October (Amazon are currently open for advanced orders). The book begins with a simple explanation of what sensory stories are and expands considerably on this point, providing an indispensable guide for practitioners. Joanna provides an overview of the research backing for the stories, looking at the importance of sensory stimulation and narrative for cognitive development and inclusion. There are chapters on how the stories can be used to support individuals with a wide range of needs, including those with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Communication difficulties, Memory problems, physical impairments and mental health difficulties. Joanna gives clear guidance on how to tell the stories to maximise their benefits for your story experiencer and gives useful ways to record progress and achievement. And of course the book has five new stories in it which should suit a range of interests and ages. Each story is supported with six lesson plans for schools who want to use the stories to facilitate learning, or for people to dip into if they want to do activities following on from sharing a story.
Sensory stories require imagination and are designed to delight the senses in a simple and effective way, as this example shows:
Rave Reviews already published
Although the book won’t be hitting the book shop shelves for a week or two, a few lucky folk have had the chance to take a sneak peak and positive reviews are already out there.
Flo Longhorn (Principal Consultant in Multisensory & special education author, great grandmother and beekeeper, and fellow backer of The Sensory Story Project) provided the forward for the book, saying in it: “This book tells a sensory story. It is for the seeker of sensory knowledge, looking for substantial ideas with which to plunge into new worlds of sensory story telling. Each chapter offers a wealth of ideas and knowledge including themes and ideas that could be placed at the core of a curriculum for special learners.”
James Gordon, an autism advocate and parent, has described the book as ‘vital reading for every special needs parent and teacher’. Gill Warren, the English coordinator at Sir Charles Parsons School, which provides care and education for pupils with severe learning difficulties and associated physical disabilities described it as ‘Take a pinch of glitter, a peck of spice, a splash of water, pebbles, a torch and noise makers; add the guiding spell of this book and we are ready. Through inspirational ideas, clearly and simply explained, Jo shows how everyone, including those with the most profound needs, can share and learn through the deep magic of stories. I wish this book had been around years ago when I first began teaching students with profound learning difficulties.’
With reviews so positive already published, we’re sure this book will have a profound influence on the wider special educational needs community.
Sensory Stories and Trabasack
We have worked with Joanna on several occasions and had the opportunity to hear all about how effective Sensory Stories can be. As mentioned above sensory stories are best delivered one on one allowing the individual enjoying the story to interact and get involved with the story on their own terms. The picture above shows the Princess Esme story (one of the ones we backed the creation of) being told on a Trabasack – a perfect fit!
We are really looking forward to reading and using the book with our son Joe ‘Sensory Stories for Children and Teens with Special Educational Needs: A Practical Guide’ and are sure it will be a big success.
Personal Message from Joanna
I am so excited that this book is being published. The initial aim of the Sensory Story Project was to create five stories. Without the project backers these stories could never have been created. When I finally finished them I wrote to all the backers liking their donation of funds to the project to a penny thrown in a wishing well. The project backers are an amazing group of people and organisation and I think we all have the same hopes and wishes for inclusion. I wondered in that message where the ripples from those coins might spread, and over the past year I’ve been staggered to find out just how far they roll. The Sensory Story Project has enabled so many people to be trained in how to use sensory stories, from Early Years Practitioners to people working in Adult Care. Sensory Stories to support postural care have been created and are being used as far away as Hong Kong. Practitioners from around the globe, most recently Portugal and New Zealand have been in touch to get support and advice for the people they support. In the summer Kensington Palace commissioned The Sensory Story Project to create a sensory tour of the King’s State Apartments, opening up the palace for people with learning disabilities, dementia and mental health difficulties. The Sensory Story Project has also been working with people who specialise in dementia care to create sensory life stories for people as they begin their journey into dementia. I couldn’t pick a favourite thing that’s happened since the launch, every day I wake up delighted that this is what I get to do. Certainly some of the most moving moments have been hearing feedback from people who have used the stories and opened up communication with individuals with profound disabilities. Next year I’ll be delivering training around the UK, I’m looking forward to each date. Sharing the stage with Flo Longhorn and Richard Hirstwood will be real pinch me moments for me, and in August I’m doing a whole weekend at a residential retreat centre, fabulously the Quakers are subsidising this course so that delegates will be able to have their bed and breakfast paid for and attend the whole course for a little over £200 I’m hoping that a real mix of people will attend, I might even bring my new little assistant – he’s proving very useful assessing what makes a high quality sight experience.
Joanna has lots more information and many free resources at her website http://jo.element42.org/ Highly recommended!
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