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Gripping Aids for Children

Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids

Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids

Helping Children Grip to Play and Learn

We like to highlight products that we find that can help children play and explore new sensations. Active Hands now make smaller gripping gloves that are for children:

There are many children who live with medical conditions which affect their hands and grip. Conditions from Spina Bifida to Cerebral Palsy and Guillain-Barre Syndrome to Muscular Dystrophy can make gripping and holding things difficult but thanks to Active Hands, there is no need for these children to miss out.

Weak hand function or difficulty gripping can make many daily tasks difficult as well as limit access to many games and activities. Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids have been developed to remove these limits and give many children access to games and activities they may previously have struggled with.

What are Active Hands Gripping Aids?

Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids in Action

Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids in Action

Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids are glove-like accessories which can be worn and attached to a range of items, allowing the hands to be held in place and allowing for items to be gripped and held. This could be anything from a drinking cup to the handlebars of an adaptive tricycle.

Active Hands Gripping Aids are designed to last and made from a soft yet durable neoprene webbing material. They can be popped in the wash if kids being kids, they get a little dirty and the mini size gripping aids are designed for children aged up to five. For older children the General Purpose Gripping Aids come in three sizes and the company recommend the smallest size should be perfect for children aged 5-10.

The Mini Aids are available in Blue or Pink to suit the preferences of your child and can be used for a wide range of play activities.

Using Active Hands Gripping Aids

There are many ways that kids can get the most from their Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids and this video shows just how fantastic they can be when using an adaptive bike:

They are also great for enjoying ride-on toys, outdoor activities and for more therapeutic purposes such as physiotherapy and exercise sessions. They can help children who need to exercise to strengthen their muscles grip comfortably as they are working.

The aids hold the hand or hands gently but firmly in gripping stance, making it possible to grip all manner of toys, handles and therapy equipment.

Active Hands Happy Customers

The Active Hands Company has many happy customers, including many parents, children and carers and below is just a closer look at some of the fantastic feedback they’ve had:

“Thank you so much for your help and assistance. This product is a life-saver for my daughter.”

Debbi Moore

“My grandson has a genetic disorder generally referred to as Micro Cephaly with symptoms similar to cerebral palsy.  He cannot speak, sit up, walk or control arms but is such a warm hearted little guy who loves to ride an adaptive bike.  For some reason, his little legs work on the pedals!

When he first started riding the bike, there was no way to control his arms and hands… I came across your website one night after a pretty extensive search.

Well they work as well as I could have hoped. His movement is much more controlled, he is stronger at pedaling (which is great exercise for him).  The teachers in his school, his parents, and of course myself could not be happier.  Thank you!!”

Bob Majkrzak

“I am a big fan of Active Hands and every one of my clients that has grip issues has been shown how effective Active Hands are. They are quite simply the best tetra gloves on the market and I am very happy to recommend active hands to my clients at Prime Physio.  I am a big fan and meet people throughout the country and occasionally in Europe, I always recommend Active Hands. Active Hands can be applied easily and adapted to so many exercises, I think they are a great bit of kit.”

Andy Galbraith

MCSP MLACP, Physiotherapist, Prime Physio Specialist Therapy Centre

Mini Gripping Aids for One Hand or Two

Playing with Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids

Playing with Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids

Active Hands Mini Gripping Aids are sold in single packs but many children use two to ride bikes and trikes and other toys. In some instances only one will be needed but it’s up to the individual parent, carer or therapist to decide which is best for each child.

Active Hands Gripping Aids really can change someone’s life and ensure any physical disabilities are not a barrier to enjoying the same fun, toys and entertainment as other children.


Active Hands products are available through Amazon – click the images below for more info:

Sensory Stories for Children and Teens – The Book!

Sensory Stories: A Practical Guide

Sensory Stories: A Practical Guide

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

Trabasack Sensory Stories

Sensory Story & 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 Grace's baby boy and her stories

Joanna has lots more information and many free resources at her website http://jo.element42.org/ Highly recommended!

What to Pack for your Child’s Hospital Stay

What to Pack for your Child’s Hospital Stay

Having a child staying in hospital for any reason is a difficult time but for children with disabilities it can be especially difficult. Chances are there are many instances of planned appointments and this at least gives you a chance to get organised and prepared.


As well as ensuring your child is as mentally prepared as possible you need to also ensure they’ve got all the things they need to feel as at home as possible. Packing for your child’s hospital stay needs to be thorough and meet their specific tastes and needs.

What to Pack

Packing falls into two categories: essentials and non-essentials. Many of the non-essentials may be things for comfort, to ease anxiety and make the stay uncomfortable. Having a clear idea of what you need for your child’s hospital stay will make the whole process of getting ready a bit less difficult.


The essential things your child is likely to need will include clothes and this post for adults staying in hospital is useful for advice. It recommends loose fitting comfortable clothes as it makes getting around the ward less difficult and more comfortable. Normal clothes are a great idea to help separate bed time from day time, even in hospital. This will depend on the reason for being in hospital too – if PJs are the way then that’s fine. Don’t forget sock and slippers too.

Hospital bedside with child using multi sensory unit

Ask about the sensory toys available, you might be surprised

If your child wears glasses of course they’ll be needed, along with any prescription medication along with a list of all supplied. In most instances the hospital will happily administer their stock but you should always have yours in hand in case this isn’t so.


Trabasack for Child's Hospital Stay

Handy Trabasack as a bed tray

Non-essentials will be very personal to your child but think this great list is a good start. They have some key non-essentials which you could call essential such as straws and even drinking cups but this is down to personal taste. Children with disabilities may find hospital stays more traumatic than most so keeping the area as fun and entertaining as possible is a good start. Bring along any favourite toys and don’t forget your handy Trabasack with its tray surface ideal for propping up games consoles or playing games on. For comfort it makes sense to bring soft or cuddly toys and perhaps as a special treat for being so brave throughout the stay you could consider a pillow pet. Portable DVD players, Kindles and iPads are also worth considering if your child has a favourite device.

Hydrant for Child's Hospital Stay

Innovative Hydrant drinking system

For eating and drinking purposes you should definitely ensure you pack a Hydrant – they’re ideal for ensuring, where able, your child can keep hydrated if lifting or accessing regular drinking cups is difficult. The Hydrant can be clipped to the hospital bed and be accessed via its innovative straw. For comfort and convenience you may want to pack children’s cutlery too. Keeping your child comfortable is also essential whilst in hospital. Of course they’ll provide blankets and pillows but many of our Twitter followers told us it’s much better to take your own and this will add a further touch of familiarity which your child may welcome. Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders may benefit from bringing their weighted blanket along to ensure a good night’s sleep is possible.

If you have one, a familar sensory story can be brought along too.

How to prepare your Child for their Stay

Having the right stuff in your bag is one thing but it also important to ensure your child is ready. This can be very difficult with children who have a learning disability but key to ensuring everything goes as well as possible is preparation. The overriding feeling will be to try and not talk about the hospital stay at all but this can be the worst possible action. Talking to your child and telling them what will happen, especially those who will be anaesthetised, will make the procedure much less difficult for all involved. It’s very easy to think your child has a full understanding of their condition and what it entails but this isn’t often true and putting things in simple, basic terms to help them understand really helps. You could put together a social story, read books about their favourite characters going into hospital or have a chat about their worries. Reassuring them at every step will help you and them feel better and less concerned.

Many hospitals are more than happy to allow a pre-admission visit to the hospital so your child can be familiarised with the area and may even meet the staff they’ll be seeing on their first day in hospital. All these markets can make a huge difference when the day comes around.

Age will make a difference to when you speak to your child. Those who are approximately 2-3 years (taking into account development delays) should be told 2-3 days before the event whilst children aged 4-7 will feel more assured and prepared with up to a week to prepare.

Taking your child into hospital is a traumatic experience but keeping this information in mind can make it less stressful and easier on your child.

We did a similar post with adults in mind on our sister blog at wheelchairlaptrays.com

Good Luck Blossom for Children – a Funky Online Sensory Toy Shop

Good Luck Blossom for Children – a Funky Online Sensory Toy Shop

The Trabasack team love supporting new ventures in the disability sector, especially when they’re beneficial for children living with disabilities. Blossom for Children is a fantastic new concept. It’s an online shop which offers a range of funky, fashionable and vibrant books, toys, aids and clothes. They were set up to generate income for the Tree of Hope charity but also to provide families and children living with special needs with the equipment and toys they deserve.

What’s in Stock?

Hannah Ensor's Biscuit Baking

Hannah Ensor’s Biscuit Baking

Blossom for Children has a wide range of fantastic and carefully selected stock. Many of the products are universal and they include some of our favourites from EasyBelts to funky wheelchair gloves. Their range of books is brilliant, including titles from one of our favourite author and illustrators Hannah Ensor.

They also stock some really great colourful alternatives to the standard NHS equipment provided including bright crutches and tripods.

The shop is split into four distinct sections:

  • Clothing
  • Toys and Books
  • Mobility
  • At Home
Trabasack Curve in Action at Blossom for Children

Trabasack Curve in Action at Blossom for Children

Each of these section has a range of items which are designed to improve and aid independence. The toys section is packed with sensory play equipment and toys which can aid development as well as just being great fun. Some of the items do cross over so having a look at the whole range is recommended.

The At Home section also usefully contains a couple of books for parents and carers to help them too with the journey to diagnosis and supporting a child with special educational needs.

They also stock the Trabasack Curve Connect as a bundle offer and have put together this brilliant instructional video showing just how simple and easy to use the product really is:

Tree of Hope

The Tree of Hope Charity is dedicated to transforming the lives of sick children and providing the support needed to their families to do this. The charity works hard to raise funds so they can provide the support needed to families across the UK.

They work to provide grants to enable children to access the medical treatments, surgeries, therapies and equipment needed to help them flourish. Without the support of Tree of Hope the majority of these children wouldn’t have the support at all.

At Trabasack we’re really pleased to see more dedicated online retailers providing equipment and enjoyment for children with disabilities. Blossom for Children has a range of stock which will appeal to children with a range of different  difficulties and makes accessing some products easier than ever before.

We want to wish Blossom for Children all the best and am sure we will see their business thrive and grow! Take a look at their shop now and please tell us what you think in the comments below!

Toy Buying Guide for Disabled Children

Toy Buying Guide for Disabled Children

There are many things to take into consideration when you’re buying toys for disabled children, including their personal capabilities and the specification of the toy in question. We have previously talked about making  your own sensory toys, but what are the questions to ask when buying them?

Is the toy multisensory?
Does it flash, make noise or offer different textures? Does it have a unique scent or structure?

Can the toy be activated easily?
Will your child be able to play with the toy independently? Is it easy to trigger?

Does the toy appeal?
Does it tie-in with popular TV shows or characters?  Is it something children can relate to?

Is the toy age appropriate?
Is it designed for the right age group? Does it fit both mentally and physically with your child’s abilities and age

Does the toy allow for self-expression?
Is it designed to allow for creativity and decision making? Does it give your child chance to encounter different media sources?

These are just a few points you need to consider as well as adjustability and durability too.

Sensory Toys for Disabled Children

Flashing, Musical Tambourine

Sensory toys appeal to many of the body’s sense and are great for disabled children who may rely on some senses more than others. Sensory toys can be designed to focus on a single sense such as sight or sound but often aim to trigger responses from a few. Pictured is a fun flashing tambourine, which both flashes and makes musical noises and is a great example of a sensory toy. Others include fun bubble machines and colourful flashing toys such as this Colour Changing Egg.

Switch Toys for Disabled Children

Inflatable Switch-Adapted R2D2

Children who require some assistance with accessing toys can use specialised switches. Switches mean that toys become easily accessible and fun to use. Switch adapted toys can be purchased from specialist retailers in most instances and allow regular toys to be enjoyed by children with disabilities. We’ve recently see switch adapted talking teddies and bongo drums as well as this fantastic switch adapted inflatable R2D2 (pictured). Locating switch-adapted toys can be more difficult than others but they’re worth the additional work for the increased usability and entertainment factors.

If your child uses switches, you may want to visit Switchmounting.com to get a free pdf guide to using switches for sensory play, gaming and communication.

Musical Toys for Disabled Children

Soft Chime Garden Sensory Toy

Musical toys are great fun for children of any age and although they might drive parents a little crazy, it’s more than worth it for the smiles and laughter they create. The range of accessible musical toys on the market is vast, whether children can use them independently or with support. We recommend this fab Conga Drum and Rainbomaker. Pictured is the charming Lamaze Soft Chime Garden which is popular with children of all ages and makes a range of different musical sounds with the slightest touch. It works very well with the trabasack media mount as it can be held at different angles for different children’s needs.

Trabasack for Toys

Your Trabasack lap tray is the perfect surface for accessing musical, sensory and switch toys for disabled children. As the photographs show it can be used for a range of different toys and

Trabasack Curve, Media Mount and Dinosaur Toy

the Trabasack Media Mount is perfect for holding toys in the ideal position to maximise play and entertainment value.


Trabasack Xmas Special Bundle Offer

We’re pleased to announce we’re currently offering a Curve Connect bundle deal, perfect for use as a sensory play tray with all the accessories you need including a Media Mount, non-slip mat and additional hook tapes for securing toys in place, at £44.95, this saves over £30 on the usual price of all the items combined and will help your child enjoy more from their toys this xmas!

Click for more info on using the Trabasack Media Mount as a Toy Holder

Sledge for a Disabled Child

Cerebra and Gordon Ellis Co create a Sledge for Disabled Children

It is that time of year and so we are all on the look-out for snow, and some of us have even had some!

Sledge for disabled child

The Cerebra Sledge has extra support but does not look out of the ordinary
Photo Credit: Gordon Ellis

Most children enjoy playing in the snow and children with special needs can often miss out on some of the activities, like sledging!
However we were pleased to find out that, Gordon Ellis & Co, a healthcare company has teamed up with Cerebra to come up with a new design. Creating a sledge for a disabled child to safely use needs a bit of thought and careful design. Working with the Cerebra Innovation Centre, Gordon Ellis have produced a robust enjoyable sledge so that children who need extra support do not lose out on enjoying the thrills of riding in the snow.

Cerebra and their Innovation Centre

Cerebra, is a favourite charity of ours, it was established to help enhance the lives of children with brain related conditions. Cerebra support research, education and directly support children and their carers.
Part of the charity is the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) based in Swansea University. It has a small team of designers and engineers that are able to create custom made equipment and one off special designs for disabled children.

 CIC undertake many design projects initiated the members of the charity and develop, design and produce products to help in the daily lives of children with neurological conditions.

Some of the products are ‘one-off’ bespoke designs, and others are made in small batches. The way we have to make things because of the small numbers, require ingenuity in design and manufacture. We constantly strive to make the best products to the highest standards. Click to read more about this scheme

The idea for the ‘Special Needs’ Sledge

The Cerebra Sledge was initially designed as a custom option for Sarah, from Scotland. The original idea for the sledge started in 2010 when Cerebra were approached by a mum, Lynne, who asked for help getting her daughter Sarah out into the snow. Sarah’s wheelchair and buggy could not be used in the snow, so she had to wait indoors while all the other youngsters in the town went off to school playing and sledging and enjoying the experiences of snow. Cerebra saw the sensory input Sarah was missing by being unable to get out. Lynne had difficulties pushing a buggy through the snow and they felt trapped inside. Cerebra got help and funds from a small charity ‘Claires Project’ who paid for the Cerebra Innovation Centre to get a CAD (Computer Aided Design) system to design a sledge for Sarah.

The story of the design and the creation of the sledge then featured in Cerebra’s Newsletter. After this publicity, there were 100 families who wanted a sledge and these were made for the following winter.

Improving on the design

After that amazing success, the Cerebra Innovation Centre began talks to have the sledge made commercially. Cerebra’s small team wanted to make the sledge more widely available and contacted Gordon Ellis, a reputable healthcare company known for creating their own aids to independent living. They improved on earlier versions by getting feedback from existing sledge owners and children. The sledge now features an adjustable back so it can fold flat for transport and has two angles to choose from. It also has foot plates so that the child or parent riding on the back has a protected place to put their feet. It looks very much like a normal sledge so is not stigmatising in any way, but has safety straps, a wider seat, armrests, a lower centre of gravity for balance and a safety leash.

Cerebra Sledge 2012

Special needs child on a sledge

Enjoying the Snow

 Gordon Ellis are now manufacturing and offering them for sale, which means that lots more children can benefit by getting hold of their very own adapted and improved sledge. The company offers a home delivery service and gives a donation to Cerebra for each one that is sold. An information video of the disabled child’s sledge can be seen below:

They have already had some lovely feedback from customers
 “It seems really well made and our son can’t wait to be able to use it. His little sister is also excited about her little seat at the back! Once again, thank you.”
two children on a cerebra sledge


You should allow time for delivery as these special sledges for disabled children are made to order. You will also need to provide VAT exemption form. They cost £250. Unfortunately much more than commercially made mass produced sledges but they are a specially made high quality item, that we are sure will bring children lots of joy.




Dravet Conference UK for Professionals and Family 2012

Dravet Conference 2012

In November 2012, The Dravet Syndrome UK charity will be hosting their second annual Family and Professional Dravet Conference and the Trabasack team are happy to be attending. Taking place on 17th November, at The Park Royal Hotel in Warrington the conference has attracted many leading speakers in the field and as the husband and wife team at the centre of the Trabasack Company are parents to a child with Dravet Syndrome, attending the conference is extremely important to them personally as well as professionally. After attending the first event two years ago, Trabasack is back for a second time, after being at the very successful Dravet Conference 2010.

The Trabasack story appeared in the Dravet Syndrome UK’s Spring Newsletter, highlighting how their son was the main inspiration behind the product and how it was developed with his and the needs of others living with Dravet and similar syndromes in mind. The product has since been developed further and has a multitude of users with many different needs.

What is Dravet Syndrome?

A life limiting, genetic condition that causes severe epilepsy, learning disability and global developmental delay in childhood. The seizures are usually hard to treat and do not respond well to epileptic drugs. A scientific paper describing the symptoms can be found here.

This Year’s Event: Dravet Conference 2012

Many fantastic speakers have been confirmed for this year’s event, including Dr Charlotte Dravet herself as the guest of honour. Other speakers include a range of specialist consultants from hospitals across the UK including Alderhey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow. Professor Mark Reese and Doctors Chung and Thomas from Wales Epilepsy Research will also be joining the other speakers at the event.

Our son joe laying on a trabasack play tray

Our son Joe enjoying a sensory garden

A range of interesting and essential topics will be discussed in depth including advancements in research, the value of early intervention, alternative treatments including the Ketogenic Diet and much more. There will be also a chance to hear of updates on many of the research projects currently funded by Dravet Syndrome. Anyone with a personal or professional interest in the area can attend the event, with both professional and family tickets available.

Who are Dravet Syndrome UK?

Dravet Syndrome UK is the leading UK charity which works to improve the lives of both adults and children living the Dravet Syndrome and other related sodium channel epilepsies. They achieve this in a number of ways from special events like the conference, to fundraising, medical research and providing support to families and individuals who require it.

The charity has three main aims to advance education, to fund research and to promote health and the Trabasack team are keen to support these goals in any way possible.
Dravet Syndrome is described as a severe form of epilepsy and can cause further issues including difficulty in the development of language, motor skills and social skills.
The second annual conference is sponsored by Nutricia and the Dravet Syndrome Foundation and the Trabasack team will be amongst many attendees and exhibitors.

Trabasack at the Family and Professional Dravet Conference 2012

Trabasack will have and exhibition display stand where product information and the new Media Mount, switch and toy mount will be available to purchase. The full range of Trabasacks and accessories will be on the stand. The most popular one for Dravet children is the Curve Connect because of the option of mounting, toys, iPads, switches and other devices with velcro onto the tray surface. A bumper Trabasack pack including all of the accessories will also be a prize in the Dravet Charity Ball Raffle. The raffle organisers are still looking for donations to the raffle which will include a prize of a chocolate hamper and a gift voucher hamper.


The full ‘tweeted’ notes and information from the conference can be found at on this conference report written up using Storify here:

Dravet Conference tweeted notes


Young Epilepsy Conference

Young Epilepsy Conference 2012


The Trabasack Team are delighted to announce their appearance at The Young Epilepsy National Conference. Young Epilepsy, in association and collaboration with Matthew’s Friends are holding a two day National Conference at St John’s Hotel, Solihull on 12th and 13th August.

As parents of a child with Dravet Syndrome, the husband and wife team behind Trabasack are passionate about attending events that raise Epilepsy Awareness and their universally designed product range is ideal for use by children and adults with epilepsy and related conditions. Raising awareness of Dravet Syndrome and the often devastating effects of epilepsy on young people, this important event will help bring together professionals, parents and new developments in the treament and management of the disease.

Son of Trabasack Creator and the Ketogenic Diet

Joe (centre) was on the ketogentic diet for 5 yrs – also pictured Clare Edwards (Trabasack creator), Victor Edwards, Joe’s brother

The co-hosting charity Mathews Friends provides information about a dietary treatment for epilepsy called the ketogenic diet. A high fat, low carbohydrate diet that the Trabasack director’s son followed for 5 years, with tremendous success. In the early days of the treatment they obtained essential advice and support from the charity.

The Young Epilepsy Conference Schedule

The event itself is split into two separate days aimed at different audiences and Trabasack will be present at both with their full product range on display for sale and to answer any questions potential customers may have.

Day 1 – The Complex Epilepsy Conference for Professionals

Friday 12th October is a dedicated conference day at the event for professionals working directly with families of children and young people with complex epilepsy in a community environment. The day will be made up of several sessions :

young epilepsy conference brochure cover

Click the image to see the link where you can download a PDF brochure and booking form of the Young Epilepsy Event

• Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis
• Advances in treatment
• Impact on the wider family
• Case Studies
• Supporting the Family
• Changing Society’s Perception

Talks will be given by UKs foremost experts in the study of epilepsy including:

  • Prof Helen Cross, The Prince of Wales’s Chair of Childhood Epilepsy
  • Dr Sunny Philip, Birmingham Children’s Hospital
  • Dr Archana Desurkar and Dr Krishna Das, Young Epilepsy
  • Epilepsy specialist n
    urses and parents who have experience of living with complex epilepsy.

The Trabasack team will be present all day with their dedicated stand and products on display. Tickets for this event are bookable via the Young Epilepsy website and there are early bird discounts available.



Day 2 – The Complex Epilepsy Information Day for Parents

conference info for families of children with epilepsy

Click to see a link to download the information and booking form for families

Saturday 13th October is a little bit different to the previous day as it focuses on the expectations and needs of the parents and carers of children and young people with complex epilepsy. It also gives them the chance to meet other families in the same situation and form some valuable support networks and relationships. Topics and sessions throughout the day will include:
• Complex Epilepsy Syndromes and Treatments
• Support through education
• Syndrome-specific group discussions
• Behaviour and impact on the wider family.
Tickets for the second day of the event are bookable now via the Young Epilepsy website or on 01342 832243 the booking line, or click the images to download a conference booking form.


The Trabasack Product Range

The Trabasack team will have their whole product range on display, with representatives present to explain exactly how their innovative products can be of beneficial use to those living with epilepsy and related syndromes.

The Trabasack lap tray and bag is an innovative and universally designed product that combines a lightweight tray surface, great for holding media devices, switches, communication aids, food and drink and much more, with a spacious bag compartment for storage of said items. It also includes a soft bean bag tray and is extremely lightweight so can be rested upon any lap without causing any discomfort. The current range includes the Trabasack Curve, designed ergonomically to hug the curves of the body and the smaller Trabasack Mini, designed for smaller devices such as netbooks and iPads. Both these products will be on display at the event.

Trabasack has also recently launched its Media Mount multipurpose mounting device which serves to provide extra support and add extra functionality to their lapdesk products. The Media Mount can support the use of communication aids, tablet devices and even hold simple things such as a bottle of drink in place.


Further demonstration of the product in action will be seen at the Young Epilepsy National Conference.

The video below shows Joanna Lumley at a previous Young Epilepsy event at Glyndebourne.

Creating a Sensory Garden

How to make a sensory garden

We have created a small area as a sensory garden for our son, Joe who has dravet syndrome. We have used wind chimes and windmills, a colourful flag from a carboot sale and some streamers hanging from the trees. We also added a small water feature, a pump in a wooden barrel creates a pleasant rippling noise for Joe.

Our son joe laying on a trabasack play tray

Our son Joe enjoying the sensory garden

To find out about suitable plants for a sensory garden, I asked Garden designer and restoration specialist Charlie Bloom for some ideas on the most approriate plants to choose:

Sensory plants for any garden

A garden by definition is a place to excite and satisfy the senses each can be stimulated by using plants that not only look beautiful, but also feel and smell as such. With that in mind, I have made a list of some of my favourites that are fully hardy and will enhance any sensory garden planting scheme.

Touch and feel

There are a number of plants that have soft, velvety foliage. Stachys byzantia and Salvia argentia have woolly sliver leaves, known affectionately as “lambs ears”, these plants are purely tactile, but both adorn themselves with tall flower spikes during the summer.


Phlomis fruticosa is a bit more conservative in its wooliness, but none the less is soft to the touch and has garish yellow flowers during the summer.

sensory plants for a sensory garden. Atribution http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Stan_Shebs

Phlomis Fructicosa

Sensory grass plant attribution of image, gratitude to http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Miya.m

Miscanthus sinensis: “is a graceful swaying grass”

In contrast, Miscanthus sinensis, is a graceful swaying grass, that bursts with silky flowers that rustle gently in the breeze.






Plants have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal qualities, many as aromatics and thus add another dimension to the garden, as plants that can awake our sense of smell, an essential  in a sensory garden.

Monarda didyma, also known as Bergamot, has a heady aromatic scent, with the benefit of many heads of scarlet pompom flowers in the summer.

Lavender a sensory plant known fro its aromatic smell

Lavender, a sensory plant that is hardy and very common in gardens.

Lavender has been long associated with relaxation and rest and the oil is harvested to add to a myriad of products. Helychrysum or Curry Plant has a distinct aroma of curry spice and has a burst of yellow flowers. With all aromatics and herbs, by rubbing the leaves and stalks between the fingers, the oils are released and the full power released.

The extra dimension of taste can be provided by all fruits, vegetables and herbs, aromatics like Mints, Rosemary and Chives.

Chives, are scented, easy to grow and can be used for cooking too.

Rosemarinus officinales (Rosemary), Mentha spicata (Mint) and Allium schoenoprasum (chives) are also good choices.”


Some care should be taken with aromatic plants if your child has epilepsy. There have been incidences of ‘plant induced seizures’ particularly with rosemary. Something to bear in mind!



In the next post I will show some photos of the physical and homemade sensory toys we have added to our our sensory garden.




As this post has been so popular we asked Charlie for some more ideas for planting a sensory garden:

Sensory Planting: Multi-Sensory Experiences

Many plants are used simply for their colour and abundance of flowers, however there are many plants that can provide a multi-sensory experience and thus can make a garden or even a small raised bed into a place of great enjoyment and learning. Stimulating the senses of sight, smell, sound and feel. Providing colour and texture to a garden with the added advantage of depth of fragrance and edibility.

The Multi-Sensory Plants

Day Lilly, a wondrous plant that produces long spikes with large beautiful flowers, that are edible and have a sweet taste, they look stunning in any garden as they are hardy and produce flowers for the entire summer. The seed pods rattle in the autumn.

sensory planting

Beautiful Day Lilly. Flowers abundantly through the summer, likes plenty of water. Photo Credit SandtoGlass


smelling sensory plants

Oregano, lovely scent, good for pizza too! Photo Credit: Anenome Projectors

Oregano, a heavily scented edible herb, with an abundance of purple/pink flowers in summer. The leaves can be rubbed between the fingers to release the scent and can also be tasted and used in cookery.


Thyme, another small aromatic herb, very hardy and has hard woody stems that can be broken to realise the scent. It is also tactile in the sense it is like a little shrub and can be patted and squeezed without much damage done.


Chives are a member of the allium/onion family and have sprays of purple pompoms in the late spring, the leaves are highly scented especially when you squeeze them and can be eaten in handfuls.


Rosemary, a highly aromatic herb and one that displays many purple flowers in late spring, larger shrubs can be shaken with care by the wooden stems with will rustle and release some of the scent.


Nasturtiums, are easily grown from seed and will put on a flaming display of flowers throughout the summer; they are also aromatic and edible and can be cropped and eaten in the bucket load.


Bio for Charlie Bloom

Garden designer and restoration specalist. Having restored the formal garden at Sir John Mills old estate, I moved on to work in the design and restoration of historic and country gardens, with special interest in Cottage style, herbaceous borders and potagers, I now write a bit too. Please ask any questions on my blog about garden design and restoration in Kent and East Sussex. If you have any questions at all about choosing plants for a sensory garden please tweet me at @bloomsblogs or email me at the address on my website.
For more information of sensory gardens we recommend this book: [easyazon-block align=”right” asin=”1849052786″ locale=”uk”]


Homemade Sensory Toys

Thanks to Gemma Conyard who sent us this lovely picture of her son with a red trimmed Trabasack Curve Connect. “My son with his Trabasack curve connect, I made him textured activity discs to keep him occupied while out and about :-)” She has put discs of material with different textures and colours so he can explore them. The sensory discs are a brilliant idea, being lightweight and easy to put inside the trabasack, they are great for children travelling in their buggies. I love the way she has put a little clacking frog in the middle so that it makes a click when he presses it!

A trabasack Curve Connect with sensory discs

Thank you Gemma Conyard who sent in this great pic "My son with his Trabasack curve connect, I made him textured activity discs to keep him occupied while out and about :-)"


Trabasack Connect is very good for attaching toys and materials as it has a soft fabric covering that sticks to ‘hook’ or rough velcro tape. I expect each of the sensory discs has a small piece of ‘hook’ tape so that it can be repositioned around the trabasack tray top.

Trabasack was created by a mum designing something that helped her child play so we love it when we see people creating toys to use with it.

You can use it to attach all sorts of homemade sensory toys. Here is a sensory toy that we made for our son last year. It doesn’t include a picture of our Joe as he had quite gruesome chicken pox at the time!

Trabasack with homemade sensory toys

Trabasack with homemade sensory toys


As you can see, we used some plastic bottles, some masking tape (orange and neon!), plastic flowers, tin foil and some wind chimes.

There are lots of things around the house that can be used as sensory play toys. You can experiment with anything with textures, bright colours or that make interesting noises, as long as it is safe for your child. If you enjoy crafts, doing it can be a lot of fun.


Homemade sensory toys on a Trabasack Curve Connect, including plastic bottles with tinfoil, plastic flowers, wooden block, a bamboo arch with windchimes

Homemade sensory toys on a Trabasack Curve Connect, including plastic bottles with tinfoil, plastic flowers, wooden block, a bamboo arch with windchimes

When you have experimented please do send your pictures to us at info(at)trabasack.co.uk Any pictures showing homemade toys on a trabasack will win one of our fun Trabasack ‘Manifesto’ T Shirts.




Our Trabasack 'Manifesto' T-Shirts

Our Trabasack 'Manifesto' T-Shirts. The slogans were sent in by fans on our facebook page and include: Bag a table anywhere, Sing, Grow together, Sow, Sew, Global family, Love your neighbour, Level up a wonky world, Make music, Smile, Share, Make art not war, Access all areas, WAKE UP, Free hugs, Make things happen, Straight from the hip, Express yourself, Read more, Good as gold, Play games


This article first appeared on the Trabasack website here: Homemade Sensory Toys