AAM's Sensory Programme
Our Sensory Programme saw us run a range of creative and sensory-based activities designed for adults with profound and multiple disabilities. Activities were designed to help participants develop communication, motor and learning skills and include music-making, arts and crafts, movement/ dance, storytelling and drama.
We were commissioned to deliver this specialist Sensory Programme for City of York Council from 2010 to 2018. Over 100 participants and supporter workers took part each year.
“It’s inclusive. It’s chaotic in a great way - everyone is free to be themselves and do/ sing/play as they are able to. The mentors that run the session try to give 1-to-1 attention to each and every individual.” Support Worker
Arty Bakers used themed sessions to enable participants and their support workers to take part in cooking and craft activities linked to the session’s theme. Participants made use of colours, shapes, textiles, tactile fabrics, dough and other foods stuffs that could be appreciated on a multi-sensory level.
"M interacts more and helps more at home as a result of the session and it's good that he's being encouraged to help others less able than himself too." Support Worker
Crafternoon Tea was a further development of our Arty Bakers sessions. Each week, participants explored a different creative theme, baked tasty treats linked to the theme and, while they were in the oven, got creative with arts and crafts! Using colours, shapes, fabrics, dough and other materials that could be explored on a multi-sensory level, participants and their support workers worked together throughout the session.
"The sessions are well run and each client’s needs and limits are respected." Support Worker
Creative Sensory sessions centred on what each individual participant could achieve alongside their Support Worker. The group experimented with different mediums to awaken the senses and engage people and to encourage communication and social interactions. Participants got to try out various art techniques including painting, collage, pottery, papier-mâché, mosaics, large scale murals, felting and much more.
"The artists always ask what the individual would like to do and don't push to get an outcome. Always there to support staff to the best of our ability and always with a positive attitude." Support Worker
In Music Makers, participants explored their favourite music, sounds, and movements through song, rhythm, and soundscapes. Participants were encouraged to use their voices and experiment with different instruments and accessible music technology. Everyone was encouraged to suggest different activities and a personal sound portrait was created to introduce each member at the start of each session.
"The session is great because it gives S the chance to meet people his own age and see them regularly and to socialise a lot more." Parent of Sensory Participant
In Occasional Painters, the group worked on a number of different themes and used a wide range of different materials including fabrics, collage, painting, weaving and mixed media.
Occasional Painters also regularly looked to famous artists for inspiration and sometimes hosted an open day where they exhibited their work, and invited family and friends to come and view it.
"She always looks forward to going and enjoys brightening her room up with her artwork and is very proud, showing it to others whenever she gets the chance." Support Worker
Sensory Drama used stories, puppets, costume, props, mime, and make-up to enable participants to explore different elements of drama each week.
Sessions included group activities alongside individual one-to-one activities, and everyone had the chance to share their work with the rest of the group. The group also worked together to choose styles and themes they’d like to explore. The Sensory Drama team focused on using Intensive Interaction techniques to help group members unlock and explore their interests and talents.
"All our skill levels are increasing as a group and the energy the artists bring to their work is infectious, which makes our job easier." Support Worker
The focus of these sessions was to support participants to experiment with the way movement (even very subtle movement) can produce different sensory feelings in the body. The sessions also helped develop physical confidence and core mobility, and encouraged different social interactions through moving and dancing with others in a group.
Through fun games and exercises, participants were encouraged and supported to take the lead and to interact with others, exploring movement qualities and rhythms with music. They also created simple movement sequences and took part in relaxation exercises.
Sensory props such as ribbons, blankets, mats, Lycra sheets, balls, hoops, and feathers were also used to encourage participants to extend their ranges of movement and discover new ways to move. The props were also great ways to provide positive sensations and comfort.
"I have learnt that touch and movement helps communicate certain things and can be used to relax." Support Worker
Each week participants got to explore a different theme using images and ideas and then create music inspired by the theme. Bespoke songs and music were written, using the actions and names of the participants to aid communication, interaction, and enjoyment of the music using all the senses.
"T looks forward to the sessions – artists give her full independence and a range of choices. She has learnt that she can speak up and have a voice within this group as a valued member." Support Worker