nowman Nathan Wolfe

Sensory Advent Calendar

When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out.  I have already talked about how to tackle things such as Visiting friends and Family at Christmas . This post is particular about Sensory Craving at Christmas. The way I have found is best to deal with Sensory Craving is to ensure that there is a regular and often stimulation given. In a way I have provided a Sensory Advent Calendar this year to help calm the excitement a little.nowman Nathan Wolfe

It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.

The Benefits of a Sensory Advent Calendar

The benefits of a Sensory Advent Calendar for our Sensory Seeker has meant that The Sensory Seeker is not just waiting until Christmas to get all his much needed Sensory Stimulation. Sensory Craving at Christmas can be a nightmare as our Sensory Seeker just cannot get enough input to the senses (mostly auditory, movement and touch; but he is also more sensitive to smell – but seems to want to avoid those). He gets really excited about actual Christmas day and I have found that giving him something to do each day has helped his Sensory diet. This in turn has meant it has been much easier with his hygiene issues (Sensory Craving is not pleasant where the toilet is involved!), especially cleaning his teeth – and sleep (ie he is managing to pretty much stick to his routine and get sleep!). It has also made the build up to Christmas a pleasant one for the whole family – doing nice things together, as opposed to feeling like we are just trying to contain the Sensory Seeker’s excitement a little! An added bonus of this has also been that he has been encouraged to at least try more foods – he even licked a lettuce leaf!benefits of sensory advent calendar

About the Sensory Advent Calendar

The Sensory Advent Calendar is simply having twenty-four things to do with The Sensory Seeker, one each day in December until Christmas Day. ? I wanted to get a real mix when deciding what to include in the Sensory Advent Calendar. I told the children that we would be doing a different thing each day but did not tell them what basing which activity we did being dependent of The Sensory Seeker’s needs and the needs of the whole family. Let’s face it just because he may have limitless energy at this time of year does not necessarily mean that I do too!! Your family may need something more structured and, depending on what works best for you and your family, maybe you could map something out, even produce a visual aid showing the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder what they are doing each day.24 day advent door

Activities to include in a Sensory Advent Calendar

There are obviously a great many things you can do with your child over Christmas, with a wealth of ideas online: Things I considered when creating The Sensory Advent Calendar consisted of activities to get really messy and creative; others were simple, clean and easy to organise and tidy away: Some that he could do independently, and others that involved us all coming together.

Does he require noise? Ideas include singing Christmas Carols, Playing with noisy Christmas novelties or playing Christmas songs (and maybe even having a dance too). Or simply getting outside and letting him be as vocal as he likes! Or if he wants to be settled and quiet some Christmas colouring or other quiet calm activity.

Does he require movement? Again dancing (or playing Just Dance on the computer) is a great way to get movement, as well as our 14ft trampoline, ice-skating and walking around to see Christmas lights. We are regularly doing Parkrun and are carrying this into December – but wearing festive clothes! I have previously written about the benefits of the Forest and Sensory Processing Disorder – and at this time of year you can catch falling leaves – or collect things to craft with at home. When he does not need movement and needs to settle and relax I have bought him some films to watch (linked in with the Christmas presents he has asked for this year), planned trips to the cinema, have Christmas story books to read (The Night Before Christmas Olaf style is The Sensory Seeker’s favourite), make Christmas shapes in our LEGO (also good for fine motor) or play a board game.sensory adventDoes he require touch? I had some really messy activities where he could get covered in paint and glitter. But also some edible ones where it didn’t matter if he tried to eat what he was touching! This could even be tied in with making gifts – such as our Christmas Tree Biscuits.

Which kind of activity used also was determined by time – such as was he able to easily have bath to get clean afterwards. I considered which kind of materials to use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different ones? (see my previous Sensory Snowman post). We made Reindeer food so that he could put it out on Christmas Eve so that he can visually associate it with being the night that Father Christmas comes out.

Promised the kids we would do something Christmassy every day in the run up to Christmas #1goodthing

A post shared by Joy Gloucestershire UK (@pinkoddy) on

Does he require smell? The Sensory Seeker has been more sensitive to smell and taken a dislike to some. The ideas I have when he needs smell are – a big bowl of freshly cooked popcorn; creating ornaments (such as Wonderbaby’s Apple & Cinnamon Ornaments); a scented candle (supervised); bubble bath/bath bomb or even a real Christmas tree.

a real Christmas tree

I hope this post has been useful for you – and this blog has lots of ideas on it of things to do with the Individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. If you are having Bad days – then please read my previous post and hopefully things will be easier in the New Year.

Merry Christmas.

Also of interest – details of Relaxed Performances of Pantos in the UK 2016-2017

Thank you to the Forestry Commission for sending us craft materials and a free parking pass.

Alone at Playtime

Friendships. When it comes to friendships it is the one thing I really struggle with. Whether that is because I am actually Autistic or not makes no odds because either way I don’t seem to be able to keep friends. So when my children come home and tell me that they have no friends I really do not have the right words for them. I want to go and make people be friends with them, or tell my kids – fuck them they don’t deserve your friendship anyway. But it is the most painful thing and I know I long for that bond that others seem to have so easily.

It started when The Sensory Seeker made an imaginary friend – his name is a crossed between Mr Invisible and Mr Invincible (he gets the two mixed up and when I tried to correct him he said, “He’s my friend and so I can call him what I like!” I have never had any imaginary friends in my house before and I am glad that he is able to be creative but I do hope it is not because the school are failing him socially – and I fear that that may be the case.alone at playtime

I would go in and speak to the school about it but I haven’t for two reasons – the first being that when we go into the playground other children call his name in a way that seems to be pleased to see him. Plus he hasn’t been sobbing and breaking his heart, he just tells me that no-one plays with him at break time. Oh and because the school don’t really seem to care. No schools seem to be bothered about the social side of my children’s disabilities in my opinion – but maybe that’s because I am one of “those” parents.

The really heart breaking thing though was, not to hear that no-one wants to play with The Sensory Seeker, but that his confident, well-loved, well-liked older brother confided in my that his close friends no longer want to play with him because of his brother (The Sensory Seeker). Although I would like to hope this is not true since he told me I have actually stopped to notice what happens in the playground in the morning and there is a shift in the dynamics.  I want to be able to tell him how to fix it, how to either get that friendship back on track or deal with it and move on – but I am no good at any of that and really don’t know how. I can’t go and speak to the other children’s parents because it is just one of those things – and you can’t make people be friends.

I hope it isn’t true and my children are just trying to get even more attention from me, and actually they are happy and well-liked at school – but my own fears choke me up – and I am just glad they have each other.

Do you have any experience with this? Any tips or advice for me and/or them?

Please note that the photo was taken in the morning before school and he wasn’t actually alone in the playground at playtime – which is also why he looks so happy.

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National Theatre

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National Theatre

The National Theatre, Southbank, London has bookings now open for the Relaxed Performance of Peter Pan showing on Saturday 21st January 2017 at 2pm.

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National TheatreAll children, except one, grow up… When Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys, loses his shadow during a visit to London, headstrong Wendy helps him reattach it. In return she is invited to Neverland – where Tinker Bell the fairy, Tiger Lily and the vengeful Captain Hook await. Exploring the possibilities and pain of growing up, it’s a riot of magic, mischief, music and make-believe.

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National TheatreRelaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory or communication disorders, or learning disabilities. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement, and some small changes made to the lighting and sound effects. An easy way to understand the atmosphere is perhaps ‘the opposite of the quiet carriage on the train’. There will be a ‘break out’ space and friendly ushers on hand to assist. A Visual Story, a short information document emailed/posted to all bookers prior to performance, will contain information and pictures about the performance, plot, characters and some information about the venue to help prepare visitors for their visit to the theatre. Peter Pan is suitable for children aged 7+. Bookers will need to decide if the show will be suitable for the person’s cognitive (and not necessarily chronological) age.

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National TheatrePeter Pan at The National Theatre is a co-production with Bristol Old Vic; devised by the Companies and based on the works of JM Barrie. Directed by Sally Cookson with dramaturgy by Mike Akers, set design by Michael Vale, costume design by Katie Sykes, lighting by Aideen Malone, music by Benji Bower, sound design by Dominic Bilkey, movement by Dan Canham, aerial direction by Gwen Hales, fight direction by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth CooperBrown of RC-ANNIE Ltd, and puppet direction and design by Toby Olié. The National Theatre would like to thank Sophie Thompson for developing the roles of Captain Hook and Mrs Darling. The cast includes: Saikat Ahamed, Suzanne Ahmet, Marc Antolin, Lois Chimimba, Laura Cubitt, Phoebe Fildes, Anna Francolini, Felix Hayes, Paul Hilton, John Leader, Amaka Okafor, John Pfumojena, Jessica Temple, Dan Wheeler and Madeleine Worrall.

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National TheatreRunning time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

Tickets: adult £16 / under-18s £10

Other Accessible Performances:

  • Audio-described performances: Saturday 17 December at 2pm, Monday 19 December at 7pm
  • Pre-show touch tour: Saturday 17 December at 12.30pm
  • Captioned performance: Wednesday 28 December at 7pm, Friday 3 February at 7pm and Saturday 4 February at 2pm

Booking:

National Theatre, Olivier Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Peter Pan Relaxed Performance at The National TheatreRELAXED WORKSHOP: Junk Puppets

  • Saturday 21 January, 11am – 1pm, Duffield Studio
  • A morning of inclusive activities for all the family. With NT workshop leaders, you will design and create your own puppets and learn how to bring them to life. The workshop has been created specifically for families with disabled children aged 6 – 12, but is open to all. All children must be accompanied by an adult, and all adults accompanied by a child. Each adult may only be responsible for a maximum of 2 children.
  • Tickets: adults £5, children £3
  • More information: nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/junk-puppets

RELAXED FAMILY SCREENINGS: Bill: 

  • Directed by Richard Bracewell (2015), PG, 92 minutes
  • Saturday 11 February, 11.30am, Cottesloe Room
  • Infectious energy and brilliant gags from some of the team behind Horrible Histories. This film tells the story of ‘what really happened’ during Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ – how the hopeless lute player Bill Shakespeare left his family and home to follow his dream. Along the way he encounters murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth.
  • During the screening, there is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and some small changes made to the light and sound effects. The cinema lights will be on low and the volume turned down slightly. There will be no trailers or advertisements before the film starts and you are welcome to move around the cinema space if you want to.
  • Tickets: £3.50
  • More information: nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/family-screen-relaxed-bill
  • nationaltheatre.org.uk
  • @nationaltheatre
  • @NT_PressOffice

Photography credit: Steve Tanner

shredded snowman card

Sensory Snowman Cards and Other Sensory Snow Crafts

When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out. It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.I'm Just a Sheep!

Sensory Christmas Activities for the Sensory Seeker

I try to ensure that we do a good mix of Christmas Activities on the build up to Christmas and how I run that activity will depend on The Sensory Seeker. For example – does he need noise (and therefore we will put Christmas music on, sing, etc) or does he need it settled and quiet? Does he need a non-messy activity that he can really touch? Or does he need to get messy (and plan a bath time straight afterwards). Which kind of materials should I use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different one?Egg Carton Christmas Trees

Sensory Snowman Cards

To demonstrate what I mean let’s take the idea of making a Snowman Christmas Card. You can really vary how much sensory input is involved and vary the craft material. This year we used shredded paper.shredded snowman card

This is a non-messy craft in terms of it getting stuck to The Sensory Seeker but meant he could get it all over his hands (and my room!) without too much fuss. It was easy for him to understand the craft – as he simply had to stick it into two circular shapes. You could draw around something round like In the Playroom’s Upcycled Snowman Collage Cards. He was then free to use whatever craft materials he liked to decorate his snowman.

Alternatively, if this would have been too difficult for him I could have put the glue on the card in circles myself; Or the circles could be drawn with a white crayon (on a darker background); Or stuck on with paper or felt; Or even used cotton wool pads like this Quick Craft Snowman Card from RedTedArt.snowman Christmas card with cotton pads

If you wanted to get messier than how about using finger prints to make snowmen out of white paint. Or if you wanted to use paint without getting dirty how about using the end of an old toilet roll holder to put circles of paint on the page.

Alternate materials could be cotton wool like the one from Dear Bear and Beanysnowman card with cotton wool

Other Sensory Snow Crafts

Perhaps your child is not interested in snowmen cards – well fear not there’s plenty of other ideas around:

Making Snow – The Sensory Seeker loves snow but we hardly have any here. I have found many different ideas of making snow around the internet:

See also: Reindeer Food and Other Christmas Craft Ideas

The Little Match Girl – Relaxed Performance

The Little Match Girl – Relaxed Performance

Celebrated director and choreographer Arthur Pita returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio this Christmas withð his magical dance theatre show, The Little Match Girl. An unlikely heroine is an impoverished young street girl, who wanders the ever-darkening streets with just one final match to keep her warm on a cold Christmas Eve.The Little Match Girl – Relaxed Performance

Relaxed Performance Thursday 15th December, 1pm

The Relaxed Performance will have:

  • An altered performance
    • Lower lighting
    • reduced sounds
  • wheelchair spaces (please note these have all sold out for this performance)
  • A chill out area
  • Visual Story and Story Board available before the performance by e-mail when booking

Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lilian Baylis Studio, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN

Join the Access Scheme to keep up to date with what’s on at Sadler’s Wells in a format that suits you. If you are in receipt of disability-related state benefits, you may also be entitled to a reduction on the cost of your ticket. Reduced price tickets are limited to one per booking per production.

If you require further information and/or disability related assistance please contact:

Tel: 020 7863 8000
E-mail: access@sadlerswells.com

Coming by Car

  • Sadler’s Wells, the Lilian Baylis Studio and the Peacock Theatre are all inside the congestion charge zone. If you want to drive in the congestion charge zone between 7am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday, excluding Public Holidays, you will have to pay the £11.50 charge. There are some exemptions and discounts. For more information and to find out how to pay, visit Transport for London. Sadler’s Wells is just inside the zone, depending where you are coming from it is possible to park outside the zone with a short walk to the theatre – this is not so easy at the Peacock Theatre. The nearest car park to Sadler’s Wells outside the congestion charge zone is in Parkfield Street, off Liverpool Road.
  • On-street free parking in Hardwick Street and other streets off Rosebery Avenue after 6.30pm Mon-Fri and from 1.30pm on Saturdays (heavy fines apply to parking in residents? bays). There is a large 24 hour car park in nearby Bowling Green Lane.
  • There are 15 spaces in the Sadler’s Wells car park at the rear of the theatre off Arlington Way (postcode: EC1R 1XA) for anyone in your party who is over 65, a member of our Access scheme or a Blue Badge holder. These cost £5.00 for the over 65s and are free of charge to Access members and Blue Badge holders. To reserve a place, please contact the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000.
UK Pantos Relaxed Performances 2016-2017

UK Pantos Relaxed Performances 2016-2017

With Panto Season just around the corner it is good to see that so many theatres are putting on Relaxed Performances to make it more inclusive for all. I am compiling a list of Pantos with Relaxed Performances showing for the 2016-2017 Season and will add more that I hear of.uk-pantos-relaxed-performances

What are Relaxed Performances of a Panto?

Of course all theatres may vary slightly with what they offer but in general a Relaxed Performance is an adaptation of the regular Panto but is more suitable for those with autistic, sensory and communication conditions, learning disorders and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Everyone is welcome but the performances are more relaxed – meaning that people will understand if someone needs to clap their hands, make noises or move around the auditorium. Some have fewer seats for sale, providing increased wheelchair capacity and giving audience members more space to make them feel more comfortable.Dick Whittington relaxed performance Bristol Hippodrome

Lighting effects, noises and elements of surprise are kept to a minimum and with house lights being partially up (also making it safer to move around). Doors may be left open and chill-out areas provided for if the auditorium becomes overwhelming – with beanbags, sensory toys and bubble lights, that can be accessed throughout the show. There is often a chance to become familiar with the theatre and actors before the performance and/or a visual story. Front of House teams are often given specific training if any difficulties arise. Some theatres even have Autism Support Groups on hand to give any advice and information leaflets.

Please contact each theatre to find out exactly what it is they provide before booking. Information is accurate to my understanding at time of publish, gleamed from the individual venues but I take no responsibility for errors and advise checking before placing an order/making plans.

Wednesday 14th December 2016

Aladdin – 1:30pm
Guildfords Yvonne Arnaud, Milbrook, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3UX

  • To find about more about this performance or to book your tickets, please call the Box Office on 01483 440000. All tickets for this performance are £9 which includes the Restoration Levy and Booking Fee. When booking your tickets you can let them know if you would like a familiarisation tour prior to your visit.UK Pantos Relaxed Performances 2016-2017

Friday 16th December 2016

Peter Pan – 10:30am
Hawth Theatre, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ

Stars Shaun Williamson, aka Barry from EastEnders, Emma Barton (Honey in Eastenders) alongside Cook and Line, the pirate duo from CBeebies show Swashbuckle.UK Pantos Relaxed Performances 2016-2017

  • For tickets call the box office on 01293 553636.
  • Audio Described Performance – Saturday 17 December, 2pm & Wednesday 28 December, 5.30pm
  • British Sign Language Interpreted Performance (Signer: Tony Oliver) – Saturday 17 December, 2pm

Sunday 18th December 2016

Robin Hood The Pantomime – 2pm
Assembly rooms Ludlow, 1 Mill St, Ludlow SY8 1AZ

  • The Box Office is open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday: 01584 878141. £5 child, £8 adult, £22 family. Support companions go free, but still must book in advance. You can also book online, by post or in person.

Monday 19th December 2016

Snow White and Other Tales from the Brothers Grimm – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford OX2 7JN

Cinderella – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: The Mill Arts Centre Banbury X16 5QE

  • Tickets are now on sale but if you have any questions, please call the Box Office on 01865 766266. For those who would benefit from the adapted performance, a special Relaxed Ticket at £10.UK Pantos Relaxed Performances 2016-2017

Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat – 1:30pm
Chequer Mead Theatre, De La Warr Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3BS

Starring Really Wild Show presenter Howie Watkins, BBC Sussex and Surrey’s Allison Ferns and Brookside actor Allen Mechen.

Wednesday 21st December 2016

Snow White- 2pm

Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE

TV favourite Jorgie Porter* (Hollyoaks, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!) will be making her pantomime debut as she heads up this year’s cast in the title role of Snow White! Jorgie will be joined by Radio City 96.7 Breakfast Show’s Leanne Campbell (a much-loved member of the Empire panto family, now in her fourth year) as the Wicked Queen, and back by popular demand is Liam Mellor as the lovable comic, Muddles

The theatre does not have its own parking facilities but Liverpool boasts many city centre car parks with reasonable rates and many are within 5 minutes’ walk of the theatre. The closest car parks are located at Mount Pleasant, Lord Nelson Street, Queen Square and at St John’s Shopping Centre on Lime Street. St. John’s Car Park offers discounted parking of £2.00 for patrons visiting the Liverpool Empire after 6.00pm and leaving before midnight (car park ticket must be validated in the theatre foyer).

0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge)

Wednesday 28th December 2016

Sleeping Beauty –  17:00

Sunderland Empire. High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR1 3EX

Vicky Entwistle (Coronation Street, Les Misérables, The Vagina Monologues) is set to reveal a wicked side when she takes on the evil role of Carabosse, alongside actress and ‘Steps’ star Faye Tozer, who is set to sparkle as the Good Fairy and children’s TV favourite Andrew Agnew (CBeebies, Balamory), who returns to Sunderland following his triumphant panto performance in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2014, in the role of Silly Billy and also as director of this year’s pantomime!

Joining them is Amy-Leigh Hickman as Princess Briar Rose, who is best known for playing Carmen in the popular CBBC series Tracy Beaker, plus spin off series The Dumping Ground and more recently as Linzi Bragg in Eastenders. The line-up is completed by special guest star and legend of radio, screen and stage, Bobby Crush (Opportunity Knocks, Benidorm, The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago) as Nurse Kelly.

  • Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge) Mon-Sat, 9am-10pm. Sun 10am-8pm

Thursday 29th December 2016

Cinderella – 13:30

Bristol Hippodrome Theatre, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ

Torvill & Dean take to the stage as the Fairy Godparents. The classic rags to riches tale Cinderella will be transformed into a breath-taking family extravaganza with glittering sets, gorgeous costumes, big song and dance numbers, real Shetland ponies and jaw-dropping skating sequences.

  • If you require information about parking for patrons with a disability please call 0117 3023222 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm) or email trishhodson@theambassadors.com
  • Access Bookings: 0117 3023222

Friday 30th December 2016

Aladdin – 13:00

Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP

Loose Women  and Benidorm favourite, and star of the all-new Are You Being Served?Sherrie Hewson, will be appearing as The Genie of the Ring, opposite one of Manchester’s best-loved actors, John Thomson (Cold Feet) as the evil Abanazar. Pop sensation Ben Adams (A1) will tread the boards as the title role, Aladdin, and to complete the line-up, writer, director and one of the best dames in the business, Eric Potts will star as Widow Twankey!

  • Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge). Call the access team on 0161 245 6605

Tuesday 3rd January 2017 

Robin Hood – 13:30

Mayflower Southhampton, Empire Lane, Southhampton, SO15 1AP  

A sensational cast led by soap royalty Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace in the South Coast’s biggest family pantomime! Relaxed Performance supported by Blaze Construction Ltd. Contains strobe lighting.UK Pantos Relaxed Performances 2016-2017

£9 Box Office 02380 711811

Review of a normal performance at Are we Nearly there Yet?

Dick Whittington 13:00

Creative Learning. Milton Keynes Theatre, Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 3NZ

  • Captioned performance 5th January 2017 7pm
  • BSL Performance 12th January 2017 7pm

Wednesday 4th January 2017

Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood – 2pm
The Roses Theatre, Sun Street, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 5NX

See Review of the Press Performance

£13.50 Box Office: 01684 295074Relaxed Performance Panto

Thursday 5th January 2017

Jack and the Beanstalk – 1.30pm and 7.15pm
Theatre Royal Nottingham, Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND

This year’s GIANT family-friendly panto adventure stars the legendary comedy-duo The Chuckle Brothers as Paul and Barry Trot, Benidorm’s Tony Maudsley as Dame Trot, and The X Factor finalist Chico as Jack, the hero of our tale. This unmissable production carries the Theatre Royal pantomime hallmark of outstanding entertainment for all ages and features laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning costumes and scenery, and amazing special effects as the audience and cast enter the Giant’s castle in spectacular 3D!

Access Performances

  • Sign Language Interpreted15/12/2016 1:30 pm
  • Audio Described17/12/2016 2:30 pm
  • Sign Language Interpreted18/12/2016 1:30 pm
  • Captioned07/01/2017 2:30 pm
  • Audio Described08/01/2017 1:30 pm
  • Sign Language Interpreted13/01/2017 7:15 pm
  • Call Caroline Pope on 0115 989 5627 for further details and to book. £2 for online bookings or £3 for phone & counter sales applies per transaction.

Thursday 5th January 2017

Jack and the Beanstalk – 10am
The Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ

  • There will be an audio described performance and touch tour for the performance on Wednesday 4th January @ 2.00pm and a sign language interpreted performance on Saturday 7th January @ 2pm
  • For the Relaxed Performance: 01242 695574

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 19:00

New Victoria Theatre. The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre. Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ

The job of head dwarf Prof is a tall order but nothing that TV and film star Warwick Davis can’t measure up to. Known to millions from his roles in Star Wars, the Harry Potter series and Willow, as well as TV comedy series Life’s Too Short and Idiot Abroad 3, he will ensure that the pantomime won’t be short of laughs this Christmas.  Joining him is comedy favourite Andy Ford as the Henchman.

  • Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

Sleeping Beauty – 13:30

Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond. Surrey, TW9 1QJ

Maureen Lipman makes a welcome return to Richmond’s spectacular Panto as the Wicked Fairy. With a catalogue of acting credits for television, stage and film, Maureen is well-known for her roles in films Educating Rita and the award-winning The Pianist. Joining her after two highly successful pantomimes at Richmond will be none other than CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis in the role of Chester the Jester, returning for a third year in a row, due to overwhelming popular demand.

  • Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

Friday 6th January 2017

Cinderella – 11:00

King’s Theatre Glasgow, 297 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JN

Returning for the second year running as one half of them awfy Ugly Sisters is Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt, Naked Video). Gregor’s old chum Tony Roper (Rab C Nesbitt, The Steamie) is back in his squad as a fellow ugly alongside King’s panto favourite Des Clarke (Capital FM) as Buttons. River City’s Gary Lamont stars as Dandini with Elaine MacKenzie Ellis (Rab C Nesbitt, Me Too) as the Fairy Godmother also taking to the ballroom floor. Completing the cast is our Prince Josh Tevendale (Avenue Q) and of course, Cinderella herself, Gillian Ford. It’s gonnae have to be some size of pumpkin carriage for this lot!

  • Glasgow City Council operates a supervised 24hr, pay-on-foot (credit cards accepted) multi-storey car park behind the theatre in Elmbank Crescent with access via Elmbank St. Parking after 6pm costs £2.50 and this charge entitles you to park until 8am the following day. This car park has spaces reserved for people with disabilities.
  • Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

Wednesday 11th January 2017

DIck Whittington 11:00

New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG

The Home of London Pantomime is thrilled to announce the strictly sensational Arlene Phillips CBE will make her pantomime debut in this year’s Dick Whittington alongside the return of the side-splittingly hilarious Tim Vine and the best dame in the business, Matthew Kelly.

  • Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.

Friday 13 January 2017

Aladdin 1pm
Nottingham Playhouse, Wellington Circus, Nottingham NG1 5AF

  • Box Office on 0115 941 9419 for more details on Relaxed Performances. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding familiarisation visits, wheelchair access and disabled parking, all you need to do is email access@nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk.relaxed performances of pantos

Thursday 26th January 2017

Dick Whittington – 12 Noon
Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Southside Birmingham, B5 4TB

JOHN BARROWMAN, STEVE MCFADDEN, THE KRANKIESand MATT SLACK

  • Captioned: Sunday 8th January 2017 1pm and Wednesday 11th January 7:15pm
  • Signed: Sunday 15th January 2017 1pm & 5:15pm
  • Audio Described: Wednesday 18th January 2017 2pm & Saturday 21st January 2017 2:30pm.

No Under 3s

  • For further information, please contact Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager, on 0121 689 3064 or lizleck@birminghamhippodrome.com. Please note, this contact is for information only. Bookings MUST be made through the Ticket Sales number on 0844 338 5000 (Call cost 4.5p per min plus access charge).

I was also told of the following:

  1. Oldham – Coliseum – Sleeping Beauty
    • Audio Described: Tuesday 13 December, 7.30pm
    • BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm
  2. Bolton – Octagon Theatre – Cinderella
    • Audio Described: Friday 2 December 7:00pm
    • BSL: Friday 9 December 7:00pm
    • Captioned: Friday 16 December 7:00pm
  3. Manchester – The Lowry – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    • BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm.
    •  Audio Description: Sunday 18 December, 2pm. Free Touch Tour 12.30pm.
    •  Relaxed: Thursday 22 December, 2pm – please book in person or over the phone on 0843 208 6010.
    •  Captioned: Tuesday 10 January, 7.30pm

If you know of any other Relaxed Performance Pantos then please contact me on pinkoddballs@hotmail.co.uk and I can add them in.

Slimer Biscuits from Ghostbusters

Slimer Biscuits from Ghostbusters

Halloween can be an awful time for those with Sensory Processing Disorder – a change of routine and additional stimulation. But it doesn’t have to be such a negative experience as long as you are prepared and have some ideas up your sleeve. Remember the most important thing is to ensure that each individual has the right Sensory Diet for their needs – making sure they get just the right amounts of input for each of the senses – whether that be trying to reduce or stimulate it.LEGOLAND Windsor, Brick or Treat, Halloween, Fireworks and the Hotel

Halloween and Sensory Processing Disorder

I have previously talked about a Scooby Doo Halloween Party the Sensory Seeker attended, how Halloween can help Sensory Processing Disorder and how an overnight trip to LEGOLAND Windsor on October 31st was great for The Sensory Seeker. This year, however, we are keeping it more low key and staying at home.

The Sensory Seeker  is absolutely loving Ghostbusters currently and he has the new, Year 2 Wave 6 LEGO Dimensions Ghostbusters Story Pack – or the Girl Ghostbusters as he calls it. He is so good at it and best of all this little boy, who I feared may never be able to talk when he was at preschool, was explaining all about the game and the new packs he has at the Family Playstation event we attended last weekend. Not only have games helped him with his communication but in so many other ways including being more socialable. I like to take his interest off the computer as well, and have previously looked at Ghost Crafts. This time I wanted to really have him focused and this is where the idea for Slimer Biscuits came from – just perfect for Halloween.Slimer Biscuits from Ghostbusters

How to make Slimer Biscuits

I have talked about the Benefits of making Biscuits with Sensory Processing Disorder when we made them as Christmas Gifts . We again used the same all in one method – and The Sensory Seeker felt really confident in himself that he made them “all by himself.” Of course he absolutely loved getting his hands in the bowl with all the lovely textures mixing the ingredients in. He still hasn’t managed to be tempted by licking the butter though!
Slimer Biscuits from GhostbustersIngredients for the biscuits: 250g Softenend butter, 140g castor sugar, 1 egg yolk, 300g plain flour (plus extra if it is to sticky and for the surface/rolling pin) and vanilla essence.

Method for biscuits: Mix together ingredients, roll out the mixture, cut into shapes, cook in the oven until golden.

The idea for the Slimer biscuits came from Simpsons Doughnuts. You know the ones which are literally pink with hundreds and thousands on. We had originally wanted to buy plain doughnuts but could not find any. To make Slimer biscuits we simply to the same but needed to make it green.Slimer Biscuits from GhostbustersWe bought some lemon icing and simply mixed in blue food colouring. Then we spent ages sorting out green hundreds and thousands! Once the biscuits had cooled we spread the icing on the top and added the green sprinkles. The Sensory Seeker then decided he wanted a couple of different coloured stands for the eyes and nose. The boys actually ended up doing some with multi-coloured sprinkles too.Slimer Biscuits from GhostbustersGuess what the biscuits didn’t much look like Slimer, and they weren’t difficult to make – but to my little boy they were the BEST biscuits in the World. AND HE had made them!Slimer Biscuits from GhostbustersOther Posts of Interest this Halloween:

Making days out more Financially Accessible for Families with Children who have Additional Needs

Max Card: Making days out more Financially Accessible

Life with a child with additional needs can be more difficulty financially and access wise. It is why I feel that parents should not be ashamed to claim any benefits they can to help enable their child a normal life as possible. Days out can be more difficult – financially, physically and emotionally: From trying to set off until the time you get home.Disneyland with Sensory Processing Disorder

Sometimes the day can be spent so much dealing with the additional needs that it feels unjustifiable for such a financial expense. For us that usually means we do not arrive on a day out until lunch time, which then means we have to eat and have missed half a day. Or the sensory input becomes too overwhelming (especially if he gets wet at all) – and then we have to leave early.

The Max Card

The Max Card aims to create memories and bring families closer together through fun and enjoyable days out. This is achieve with the help of supporting local authorities, selected charities and venues which then gives access to free or discounted entry to over 1,100 attractions across the UK to eligible children and their families.’Max Card Making days out more Financially Accessible for Families with Children who have Additional Needs

Max Card Attractions

The discounted and free attractions available with the Max Card are available throughout the UK – which can be browsed on the Max Card Website (by Region and then by County) – as well as having some online only offers. Some you can just turn up and show your card and others need to be booked in advanced. The Max Card states that the card is for two adults and two children – but this is dependent on the venue. Discounts include things like Merlin Attractions and Annual Passes, Sensory Oojamabobs, Chewigem, Leisure Centres, Tenpin Bowling, Lasertag, Paintballing, Virgin Experience days, Libraries, Museums, Fun Fairs, Safari Parks, Farm & Fun Parks, Go Apes – and much much more.

LEGOLAND Windsor, Brick or Treat, Halloween, Fireworks and the Hotel

Ordering a Max Card

To order a Max Card contact the local City Council who will be able to let you know if you qualify (it is also for Foster Families) or email hello@mymaxcard.co.uk if you’re not sure who to contact. If you do not have a local authority or charity who issue the cards and you know of one that would be happy to help then please contact Max Card who are always on the look-out for new ones to join in so that more families can benefit from their worthwhile scheme. The Max Card is valid for two years from the month that the local authority receives the card: The expiry date is on the reverse of the card.

Find Max Card on Facebook and Twitter

Gloucestershire currently do not offer The Max Card so I was sent one in return for promotion. All words and opinions are honest and my own.

sensory emotions

Sensory Processing Disorder Dreams and Emotions

Sensory Processing Disorder and Struggling with Emotions

Individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition are very likely to struggle with their emotions. Not only explaining them but understanding them in the first place. If you do not know how they are feeling that it is really hard to try and help. Emotional regulation is really important to help avoid meltdowns. Once the individual is able to identify them themselves they can then begin to self-regulate and take control of their sensory under and overloads.sensory emotions

How those with Sensory Processing Disorder may Struggle with Emotions

The individual with Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism may try and mirror other’s emotions – so if someone else is hurt they feel it too. They may feel upset if someone else is punished when they do not feel that the punishment was justified and have a sense of righteousness. Or they may become angry if someone is doing something they do not like – even if that is tickling them or being too loud.unhappy child

Helping those with Sensory Processing Disorder cope with Emotions

To help them better understand their feelings they need to be reassured that it is okay to have them, and then tell them what each one is called as they experience it. Offer reassurance and calming techniques (rubbing their back, firm hugs, music, lights, movement or a weighted blanket for example). It may help to have emotions printed on face picture cards so that they can see what they are feeling. These will also help aid the individual to communicate how they are feeling (especially good if they are feeling unwell). You may find it helps to have somewhere to put their problem (such as into a Worry Eater).sensory emotion regulation

Sensory Processing Disorder Dreams and Emotions

A good way to identify a child’s emotions is through that of their dreams. Dreams are about the self and can be symbolic or real. This can be confusing for anyone but particular those with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autism. They could be what prevents them from trying to sleep and/or waking them up in the night. If you can get them to talk to you about what happens in their dreams it may help to unravel how they are coping emotionally. Again using the visual aids may help with this process as you talk things through.

Ian Wallace, a well-known expert in the field of Dreams talks about children’s dreams interpreted in the following video:


in collaboration with Adjustable beds

sensory lights

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder

You know that feeling of getting back to your own bed – that nowhere else feels just quite right? It is the right temperature, the size of the bed (being just right for the position you want to be in), the feel of the sheets, blankets and pillows as well as the hardness of the mattress and maybe even the smell of the room. When you are away it is these little things that may mean you find it difficult to sleep – possibly even making you feel irritable. This is just a small insight into what it may be like for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder to get to sleep – even in their own room. When The Sensory Seeker struggles with sleep I try to consider each and every one of the senses and try to eliminate things that may be keeping him awake. The main problem is he may not even know what it is – so cannot really communicate what the problem is.trying to sleep

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Temperature is wrong

We know what it is like trying to sleep when it is too hot – or even too cold. But generally we are able to adjust this – turn on a fan, grab an extra blanket, wear more or less clothes. The individual with Sensory Processing Disorder may either not realise that this is the sense causing the problem, or be able to take action, or possibly it could cause more problems (eg the fan interferes with the noise sense, the extra blanket the touch sense and so on). I think it is important to also understand that just because you think it is getting cold at night now may not be how they are feeling – we are all different after all. You may really need to just experiment with fans, heaters, layers of clothing//blankets etc – and just keep listening to the individual with SPD (not just their words but how they react). It may change every night. They may be asking for water and you may think it is a distraction, but they could genuinely be too hot. Be careful not to give them too much to drink at night that results in a problem with bedwetting though!

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Touch is wrong

Do you have to sleep with a blanket touching you even though you are boiling hot? Trying to sleep when things do not feel right is probably the problem we can relate to the most. Again this is about experimentation and listening to the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder until the right combinations of touch are found: A technique called Brushing may help before bed or using weighted blankets (although they are controversial as to whether they could be taken off in an emergency okay). Try different nightwear (or without), blankets, pillows – even think about the air! For example is that fan blowing on them? This could be something they like or dislike! You may need to think about the position of the fan – is it blowing from above or to the side, can you move it? How hard is the bed? Could you put a blanket underneath the sheet to make it softer?sleeping in leaves

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Smell is wrong

I think smell is hugely neglected when it comes to considering how to help in general  but it can be just as much of an annoyance as the other senses. Before even thinking about trying to get to sleep I make sure that I open the windows in the day to allow fresh air in (and shut them at night to keep the noise out). For our Sensory Seeker what works is keeping a fresh smell (and sometimes using air fresheners). Again you really need to just try and smell the room, and work with the individual adjusting things that MAY (or may not) be the problem until you hit on the perfect combination (which can then just as easily change the next night).

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Light is wrong

Whether it is having the room dark or light which helps them to sleep, I think that it is one of the easier things to control. If the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder wants light there are all manner of different lights, designs, colours, shapes and sizes on the market to meet each of their individual needs, and allowing them to be positioned where they need to be. Of course there are even ones to meet any obsessions they have too.

sensory lightsThe Sensory Seeker says that he is afraid of the dark however (possibly just due to his age); that monsters are going to get him. Trouble is he is really sensitive to light and it wakes him up (yay for winter on its way!). To get around this we have a blackout blind and have positioned his bed away from the window. If this had not of worked we were going to try a sleep mask (which he would have liked as he likes the sense of touch). However, also consider whether they will be trying to get out of bed whilst still wearing the mask – my husband worried that if we got one then The Sensory Seeker half asleep would try to go to the toilet in the night without removing the mask and fall down the stairs. We also got him a Worry Eater to which we have told him will eat his anxieties and protect him from danger.

Of course you also need to take into account other visual factors such as the colour of the room, how cluttered it is with things to see, etc.

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Noise level is wrong

I like it quiet when I am trying to sleep in bed and would rather have a window shut on a hot day than hear the sound of a dog barking or a car alarm going off. Your child may be able to sleep with ear defenders or ear plugs if the noise is too loud. If you are really lucky you could sound proof the room. But not everyone wants quiet whilst they try to get to sleep or are sleeping – and some kind of radio may help with this – or reading/singing to them until they fall asleep. Or leave some white noise – like a vacuum on for them. In fact our own Sensory Seeker has been known to listen to Yoga Nidra to help get to sleep (this helps switch the brain between the nervous systems as well as providing him with the noise input he needs).

Also you need to think about body position – I said above I like quiet when trying to sleep in bed because I know if I am sitting up in a moving car I actually find it easier to sleep if the music is on (when I am a passenger I made add). This is just an example how things you may think you have found the answer to for one of the senses can change when you consider another.

Trying to sleep with Sensory Processing Disorder when the Taste is wrong

This goes back to what happens before bed – I guess how long before they go that they brush their teeth. We find allowing The Sensory Seeker to brush his teeth and get ready for bed a while before actually going to bed helps – and this may be to do with the fact that he is not distracted by the taste of the toothpaste flavour when trying to go to sleep. I know it sounds silly but it really is important just to focus on each sense and really have a good think about what could be stopping them.

Of course it could be that the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder you are trying to get to sleep is just a human being – and we all struggle or don’t want to go to sleep sometimes do we?! Especially if they are a child – I remember trying to stay awake all night with my sister, or they could be excited/anxious. Give them plenty of time to talk – however hard they find expressing their feelings.

 

Written in Partnership with The Lighting Superstore