Using all our senses to bond as a family

When you have a child with a complex disability, or who is deafblind, finding ways to communicate and play takes a little extra creativity. Sense has helped families find fun and meaning in sensory play. Hear their stories and how you can get involved!

Touch and texture

Catching up with Philippa, Logan’s mum

Logan has cerebral palsy and brain damage, as well as limited hearing and vision. We use objects of reference to communicate with him about the day ahead.

Logan out in the sunshine with his drum and teddy.

There are so many parts of each day that he looks forward to, from bath time to visiting the Sense Centre for inclusive play. Objects of reference help Logan anticipate when we’re about to do any one of these activities.

For dinner time, we’ll give Logan his favourite spoon. He’ll feel it and we’ll tap it against his mouth so he knows what’s happening. Then he’s got a rubber duck for bath time. Some references are quite simple and logical…other ones are a bit more obscure! The lady who comes in to give him a massage, her object of reference is some bits of material plaited together because she has dreadlocks.

These new ways of communicating, which Sense introduced us to, have been a real lifeline.

Game: Guess the character from the object

Each person must think of a character. This can be from a book, game, film or a real-life celebrity. Who you’ve picked is a secret and it’s up to everyone else to guess who it is! As clues, bring three objects along for everyone to see, touch or taste.
If you’re guessing, you can only ask 20 ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. If you think you know who it is, shout “Sense!” and give your answer. The first person to get it right wins that round!

Sound and feeling

Meet Libby’s mum, Kirsty

Libby enjoying the sensations of lying under musical chimes.

Music means a lot to my 4 years old daughter, Libby. She has Bohring Opitz Syndrome, which affects her sight and hearing. Her love of music keeps us busy exploring new ways of creating and experiencing sound.

Libby loves a resonance board. The vibrations encourage her to move different parts of her body, so it’s a way she can get to know herself and her surroundings. We’ve borrowed a board from Sense and it’s inspired us to keep experimenting. Libby loves the sound of clanking bells and beads, or just banging wooden spoons!

Sense’s sessions have helped Libby’s communication and movements really improve. It’s amazing to see her grow.

Game: Guess the song

Nominate someone as the performer. Their role is to pick a well-known song or rhyme and play it for everyone else to guess! Use pots and pans, wooden spoons, teacups and whatever else comes to hand. You can bang objects to make sound or use someone’s arm or back to tap out the rhythm for them to guess. Get creative and give the performance of a lifetime!

Sight and expression

Get to know Bethany and her grandma, Jenny

Bethany getting stuck into arts and crafts over Christmas.

Bethany has an incredible imagination; she’s always making up games and finding new ways to express herself. Her CHARGE syndrome hasn’t gotten in the way of her finding magic in every day.

My granddaughter is deaf. She has some vision, which she puts to great use. She’s very engaged with the world around her.

Bethany loves craft activities, the messier the better! A big one is biscuit decorating. Whenever this is on at our Sense centre, she always has a strong vision of what she wants to create – the colours and sweet decorations, she chooses it all very independently.

Over time, we’ve seen Bethany’s confidence continue to grow. It’s clear she gets a lot out of her sensory sessions.

Game: Cupcake design competition

Your cupcake competition can be carried out on paper or on real cakes – whichever option works best for you. Participants will need to create a sensational cupcake, one with different toppings, textures and flavours! It can a freestyle event or you can set a theme, like ‘summer’ or ‘your favourite animal’.

Looking to bring some sensory fun home, or get all the senses tingling at your Sensational Tea Party? We hope these activities are inspiring. You can find more sensory party games here.