Saturday, 8 March 2014

Winter Paralympics - Now You Try

The winter paralympics have started and at the time of writing UK already has a medal.  If your children are inspired to have a go at any of the sports then have a look at the links below for more information:


Sledge Rugby

Ice skating
 Most rinks have specific sessions for wheelchair users and you should contact your local rink for specific times.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

"I cannot resist, I must draw"

The quote from Beatrix Potter sums up E's love of drawing.  She's always looking to find ways to create pictures and is now making line drawings using her communication device.   She still loves to draw on paper though and it's our solutions to this that I thought would be worth sharing.

The biggest issue we have is keeping the paper in place while drawing.  Pressure comes both from the drawing hand and the spare hand pulling and crumpling the paper.  We tried a Dycem mat, but it was too soft to draw on,  we tried blue tack but it didn't bond to the table and we tried selotape but then you have selotape all over your drawing.

Our solution, the post-it note.  

We have used successfully for a number of years 3Ms post-it sketch and stick pad for kids.  This is white A4 paper with post-it sticky along the top shorter edge.  It keeps the paper in place a treat and can be used either way up so making the majority of the paper available for drawing.  Unfortunately 3M no longer sell it in the UK (but do in the US) but it can sometime be found on ebay and Amazon for a reasonable price.


We have also tried an alternative giant sticky note.  This is a square of yellow paper with sticky along one edge.  It works well even if it is a little big and can also be used either way up.  This is a bit more expensive and can be found at both Amazon and the Present Finder. 

Giant Sticky
3M also have an A4 super sticky (whole sheet) in a collection of bright colours but this is currently only available in the US so we haven't yet had the opportunity to test it out.

Please do share what solutions you have come up with. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

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Yoga for Everyone

Yogability provide yoga classes for children and adults with additional support needs and their carers in central Scotland, all free of charge.  Helen from Yogability has kindly given a guest blog to explain a bit more of what they offer.

About us

My friend Debbie and I  are qualified yoga and special needs yoga teachers. We studied special needs yoga at the leading centre in London.  When we attended the teacher training, we were unsure what to expect but we were so amazed by the work they were doing that we felt sure that this was the place we wanted to be.  We both knew we wanted to pass on yoga to others, having benefited from it greatly ourselves but also having family benefit too; Debbie's son has cerebral palsy and was regularly seeing a special needs yoga teacher who had trained at the same centre in London.  His enjoyment of the sessions and the tangible benefits that Debbie could see as a mum and a yoga teacher served as the impetus for us to attend the course and follow the path to starting up the charity.
Once we have a student, they are welcome to continue with us indefinitely and there is no rush in developing postures..  Our main reasons for making Yogability free of charge is to remove barriers to entry so that everyone is viewed equally and so that no-one, including the parents or teachers have expectations of our children. 



The benefits of yoga are universal although it's a different experience for everyone. Yoga, at it's basic level, stretches out the connective tissue, the fascia, the muscles and the entire body, a lovely, open feeling which sets you up for the day.  But yoga also brings a sense of wellbeing; it brings an awareness to the body and mind and increases health and vitality. It provides strength, flexibility and calmness.  It increases lung capacity, slows down the breath and gives tools for pain management and dealing with anxiety, depression and anger.  It brings clarity and stillness to our lives


At Yogability, our sessions is usually around 30 minutes and can be one to one moving to group work only if suitable. It is child centric so the session is all about the child and what he or she needs or wants to participate in.  It can take some children many months to sit on a mat whereas other children begin postures from day one.  

Each child is unique and we assess them to see what kind of service would be best for them.  For some it will be  require passive yoga  where we act as yoga therapists, talking or singing gently to our children whilst helping them into the yoga postures.  Some need a little assistance, maybe to sit up or to get into some more demanding postures whereas others can participate fully on their own or even in groups. 

We start a session quietly chatting with our child and then begin our yoga postures, usually starting with the feet and working up to the arms then, if our child is happy, we move on to other postures.  For group work, postures usually come after some breath work and end with more breathing techniques and a mini meditation.  It is wonderful to see a group suddenly breath together in unison and open their eyes at the end of a session with smiles on their faces, sometimes very different from how they first arrived.  Some sessions are spent playing or singing, encouraging postures through play, particularly in younger children and depending on the mood of the day.

We see Yogability as a community so parents/carers are encouraged to do what's best for them in a session.  You are welcome to stay and enjoy the opportunity to meet up with other carers getting support, just catching up or having a break or go off for some time alone.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Supermarket Seat

In January this year we changed our shopping from on-line to store based which is possible because our local Tesco has a five point harness on their disabled child trolley.  The first trip went really well but the second week we turned up and someone else was using the trolley.  After much discussion with customer service and then the duty manager, we finally got an offer of free delivery.  This was not a pleasant experience but  I have to fully acknowledge that when we returned the following week, there were two additional disabled trollies available. 

During the conversation one statement,  “that’s fine, someone else is using it”, really highlighted to me how complicated doing something as simple as shopping could be. No stores offer a specific discount on on-line shopping to anyone with a disability,  I wanted to find out how accessible in store shopping was.  A quick survey showed that almost 60% were not able to access an appropriate trolley in store. 

I contacted all the major supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons).   They all confirmed that their store managers were empowered to order a disabled child trolley should a customer request one, or highlight the need for one.  They all also seemed willing to supply a member of staff to accompany you on your shop should a trolley not be available, or appropriate.  Where your store does have a trolley, the recommendation was in the first instance to contact the store and have the trolley put aside before you go.  The strong message here is ASK .  I do believe that the stores are unaware  of the extent of the demand for these trolleys.

So far it seems there is willingness to meet the customer need albeit somewhat lacking in pro-activity.  However  survey and anecdotal evidence indicates that the trolleys available do not fully meet the needs of the disabled child and their family:

  • Wheelchair specific trollies are too wide for a child wheelchair.
  • The disabled child trolley often does not have appropriate harness or support

At the same time, when asked would the availability of a suitable trolley influence their choice of store, the majority said it would.


So what is out there that may meet the needs of the family better?  In the UK for a smaller child is the GOTOseat which works well in a toddler trolley.  Currently you would have to supply your own but hopefully the supermarkets will see the benefits of having some in store. 

For the older in child, the best option I have found is Caroline’s cart in the US.  This was released in 2013 and perhaps we will see it come to the UK.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Your opion is sought

I am writing a post about supermarket trolleys for children with additional support needs.  To give it context and perhaps influence the supermarkets, could I ask you to take the time to complete the attached survey.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Guest Post - Syngenta Juvenile CP Squad - Guest Post

This month marks the one year anniversary of our first cerebral palsy football event.  Within that year we have gone from strength to strength gaining the support from the SFA and Scottish disability Sport.  Both of these are very exciting, but not as exciting as the players becoming the first ambulant cerebral palsy grass roots football team in Scotland. To celebrate our 1 year anniversary the players were presented with their Syngenta Juvenile kits representing full integration to the Syngenta Juvenile family. 

Our team is unique, every person involved understands the daily struggles involved with having cerebral palsy and during training sessions these difficulties disappear.  The focus here at little Kerse, where we train, is on ability, team work and recognising individuals strengths. Training involves working hard developing and learning new skills, learning about the clubs history, game practice and most importantly having fun.   There is fantastic skill and commitment demonstrated every month but most importantly there is always laughter. We may well have some future stars here and finally they have the platform to shine.

Anyone interested in finding out more about playing football with a "disability" should follow the appropriate link:

Scottish Football Association
Welsh Football Trust

For an overview of the various team structures together with details of teams throughout the UK, try disability football.  And if all you want to do is go watch football then the try Level Playing Field in England and Wales of the club direct in Scotland.