Touch screen devices and disabled children

Guest post from Elvia Vasconcelos, Includer, North London

 

I first saw the potential of touch screen devices a few months ago when Mary, mum of Julian, a three-year-old with global development delays, handed us an Ipad for us to play. Both I and Julian were thrilled and excited when we saw it lighting up. Julian knew what to do and clicked on the application he wanted to use. I followed in wonder.

So what is an app?

“Application software, also known as an application or an ‘app’, is computer software designed to help the user to perform singular or multiple related specific tasks.” Wikipedia

They can be divided into Web apps and Mobile Apps. I will be referring to the later ones as they are designed to run on smart phones, tablet computers, portable media players and other personal digital assistants.

Out of curiosity, App was voted Word of the Year in 2010 by the American Dialect Society. In 2009 the word was Tweet, the word of the past decade was Google (as a verb) and in the 90s it was Web. There is no escaping it!

Potential of touch screen devices for disabled children

Julian is three and although he picks up on everything his mum says he can’t speak. It is still yet to be seen if he will be able to write in the conventional pen and paper way but when he started the Farm animals app he did spell. I was amazed at the control he had on the device and how intuitive it all felt. That was when I first realised the true potential of the ipad, and more generally touch screen devices for disabled children and how much of an impact they will have on special needs education.

The range of applications in special needs is wide and is constantly growing. A very popular one is AutoVerbal talking soundboard. It’s a text-to-speech program developed for non-verbal people with picture buttons that speak pre-programmed messages (such as “My name is Julian”) and it also has the type anything function that allows for more advanced users to carry on conversations. I found a lot of very enthusiastic reviews on the itunes website from people that have been using these apps with their autistic children and it is easy to see the correlation of these programmes with the already instated communication tools in educational settings such as the Pecs (pictures exchange system), Visual timetables and Makaton. I found a couple of websites very helpful in tackling the 30.000 plus apps available: www.SNApps4kids.com and oneplaceforspecialneeds.com.

Overall, apps can be divided into the areas of communication and speech; language and literacy; behaviour, schedules and social cues; cause/effect. There are also tones of games, musical activities and movies.

Also for medical purposes iBiomed is a mobile software application developed for parents of special needs children, to help in managing the complexities involved with their care. It is handy for all medical conditions, but is even more useful for: Autism, Asthma, Allergies, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalga, Migraines, Depression, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, OCD. It’s a free app and there is also an online version if you don’t have any of the touch screen devices. It seems like a very good tool and I have already signed up for a test run.

Happy apping, finger tapping!

Physiotherapy at Orchard Manor

Guest post from Gemma Smith, Physiotherapist.

Physio at Orchard Manor

Physiotherapy doesn’t have to be all about pain, repetitive tasks and intense exercise. At Orchard Manor, we create a fun, functional and action-packed environment for our young people to enjoy, whilst continuing to promote physical health and wellbeing. The young adults at Orchard Manor have profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities with a wide range of co-existing physical and health requirements. It takes all of my physiotherapy knowledge to ensure person-centred, individual therapy for each resident through a range of exciting and challenging activities.

Orchard Manor is a residential transition care home run by the disability charity Scope for 31 young people with severe physical, sensory and learning difficulties and disabilities. Our overall aim is to promote skills and put in place programmes to enable these individuals to live as independently as possible in later adult life. Placements last 3 years and within this time we provide a vibrant, supportive and challenging timetable of development and therapy sessions. This encourages people to develop existing and new skills that they can retain and continue to use when they move on in the future. Physiotherapy is a key area in the lives of our residents and my role is to ensure each individual has the vital equipment, individual programmes and input to enable our high level of physiotherapy care and to put in the ground work so that this continues within the wider community when our residents move on. Orchard Manor practices a multi-disciplinary method of working and therefore I work within an extensive team of professionals, sharing knowledge and expertise to ensure that each young person is supported to maintain and extend their abilities. Orchard Manor has an onsite Skills Development Centre which delivers sessions in art, drama, music, media, ICT, cookery, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and physiotherapy. We aim to ensure that an individual’s time at Orchard Manor is full of functional experiences as well as fun and satisfaction.

I take a ‘hands on’ approach to my role and I see each of our residents between 2-4 times per week depending on their level of physical disability and need. I provide physiotherapy intervention within a group setting or on an individual basis depending on the task or activity being provided. Each of our groups are carefully created to combine residents with similar cognitive and communicative skills in order for us to customise activities to suit their level of understanding and ability. I work in many different environments to ensure physiotherapy is a functional and daily aspect of our resident’s lives e.g. I spend lot of time within the residential flats ensuring equipment and physical management programmes are being correctly carried out by support staff. I also support residents in the community whether that is the local public swimming pool, gym or accessing local horse riding facilities. My plan is to combine social integration and physical wellbeing into the day to day lives of the young people.

Physiotherapy sessions at Orchard Manor are always full of laughter, games and opportunity. I work on the trampoline four mornings a week providing Rebound Therapy for all residents. This acts as an ideal platform to complete alternative positioning, stretching programmes and functional tasks such as bridging and rolling. Each individual completes a specific programme working on their level of mobility and physical aims. Some of our residents are able to bounce with support. However some require adaptive equipment to support their physical position and trained staff to assist them in passively moving their limbs in order to complete stretches and activities such as throwing and catching. Every resident works towards personal goals appropriate to their level of cognition and physical ability. This may be through a sensory experience, increased body awareness, independent sitting or rolling, standing or bouncing. Any physical activity completed on the trampoline during Rebound Therapy also enhances the respiratory system, circulatory systems and bladder and bowel function. This therapy is accessible to most of the young people who live at Orchard Manor and is very popular. As I mentioned at the beginning, my aim is to ensure that physiotherapy intervention is not painful or boring but fun and enjoyable.

Another facility we have at Orchard Manor is a hydrotherapy pool. I run hydrotherapy sessions four afternoons a week for residents who are unable to access the local community swimming pools, either due to accessibility or the temperature of these pools. Our pool is specially adapted with excellent changing facilities and a hoisting system straight into the water. I especially enjoy working with our profoundly physically disabled residents in the water as they are able to achieve so much more mobility and function due to the weightlessness this environment provides. I am able to effectively support the residents to achieve certain positions which would not be possible on land. For example, some young people use wheelchairs at all times throughout the day, but they are able to stand and take steps in the water with suitable support from myself and adaptive hydrotherapy equipment. The 34°- 36° temperature in our hydrotherapy pool also allows muscle relaxation and hence further stretching potential for those with contracted limbs. The young people may help actively with their stretching programmes or we may support them passively to achieve as much additional range of movement as possible. Within this controlled, relaxing and sensory water environment, the residents don’t perceive physiotherapy as painful or intense, but pleasurable, comfortable and safe.

Another very important aspect of the young people’s physiotherapy intervention focuses on mobility and physical activity through active exercise. We have a range of adaptive pieces of equipment to support individuals to achieve this. Our focus during the 3 years people are at Orchard Manor, is to ensure that everyone has their own equipment for long term future use. We support individuals and their families to proceed with the funding for these pieces of highly specialised equipment via private funding or applications through the health or social authorities. I work closely with the Occupational Therapist to ensure the equipment is individually assessed so that it is suitable and physically beneficial for the person who will use it. We have very close links to representatives from large equipment companies and they visit Orchard Manor on a regular basis to demonstrate new equipment and maintain and reassess our existing equipment. This means that our residents remain safe, supported and comfortable and benefit from advances as they become available.

Our young people have an array of standing frames, walking frames, side lying boards, tricycles, comfortable seating and sleeping systems all individually adapted for their use. The extensive grounds at Orchard Manor include a private road that orbits the entire site and can safely be used for tricycle riding and walking. This provides a change of scenery and a stimulating environment in which to complete these activities. Mobility for residents comes in a range of different forms depending on the physical needs of each person’s body. We use the most adaptable walking frames to achieve walking/stepping with the most unlikely to mobilise residents. As you can imagine, this creates a satisfying and rewarding personal achievement along with the health and physical benefits gained from moving and being in an upright position.

Postural care is a major aspect of each individual’s physiotherapy regime. Our staff ensure that positive postural positioning, for each young person, is applied 24 hours a day and individual photographic and written programmes are composed by myself for the support staff, families and the residents themselves to follow. Alternative positions are implemented within the day, whether that is in a music session, whilst watching a film, when eating or drinking, or in an individual’s free time. I work with residents and liaise with our care and skills development staff to identify the most beneficial and appropriate positions for each person when using adaptive equipment. Each resident also completes weekly small group physiotherapy sessions that focus on positioning. During this time individuals are supported 1:1 by a member of staff and, following my directions, achieve a suitable position, whether that be in standing, sitting, lying on their back, front or side. When each resident is positioned correctly and comfortably we complete a range of activities such as bowling, puzzles, sensory object manipulation, exercise tape recordings, drawing, looking at books or using table-top games. This again incorporates function, fun and positive positioning for our young people.

Another session we complete weekly within physiotherapy is integrating postural care with passive movements. Each resident is positioned in a relaxed neutral position and supported 1:1 by a member of staff. We complete a full body passive movement stretch routine to assist the young people to maintain their current range of movement and muscle flexibility. I lead this session and my aim is to educate staff so that these activities are completed as part of an individual’s daily stretching routine within the residential flats. With practice, advice, demonstration and observation during these sessions, the confidence and competence of our support staff greatly increases and we ensure each member of staff works with different residents with different physical presentations to enable further progression.

I am committed to the role I play in staff training which greatly benefits the residents. I lead formal training on Postural Care and Passive Movements, indicating the aims, benefits and safety precautions within these topics. I include a practical demonstration of full body passive stretches and a sleep system demonstration. Support staff use sleep systems with residents on a nightly basis, without immediate physiotherapist assistance and so this training is vital to ensure that sleep systems are used effectively and safely. This training has been extremely successful and popular. It has helped support staff to further their knowledge and understanding of these important aspects of care. I also train staff to assist our residents in the hydrotherapy pool so that they can make the most of this facility in the evenings and at weekends.

I have mentioned just some of the activities I complete with the residents at Orchard Manor, however every day is different and we adapt, change and explore alternative ideas all the time to achieve exciting and beneficial results. The young people I support are extremely important to me. Their care, independence and enjoyment are always at the forefront of all my physiotherapy intervention and I strive to ensure that their health, happiness and physical wellbeing is well maintained and monitored. Orchard Manor Transition Service is a fantastic place to work and the attitudes of the staff combined with the facilities and high standard of care ensure that each person’s needs are met and that they are happy, motivated and ready for the challenges the future is sure to bring.

Calderdale Aspire Services win Team Of The Year Award

Scope’s Aspire Services in Calderdale are delighted to have received the “Team Of The Year Award” at an awards ceremony held at Halifax Minster to mark the work of the people who provide services to adults and older people in mental health, learning disabilities, residential and day care services.

Diane Thundercliffe, David Codling, Steve Oldroyd and Davis Hopkinson supported a group of disabled people on a three-day break to London. They arranged everything from finding a hotel, going to the theatre and sightseeing.

The award praised the opportunity and experience gained from the trip, saying: “The team went beyond their role and responsibilities and made a real impact to improve the quality of life of the people they support.”

The service was nominated by a customer and his care provider for the team’s person-centred service. He nominated the team for the way it supported him on his holiday to London. It was the first time the day service had run holidays, at the request of their customers.

The customers were involved in all aspects and tailored their holiday in London around what they wanted to do. Everyone had their own Personal Assistant and some fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition and went on a tour of Arsenal’s Emirates stadium with Gunners legend, Eddie Kelly. One person went to the theatre after having a afternoon in Covent Garden. They are planning their next trip to Tenerife and other European cities.

Service manager Peter Wardhaugh said, “I am delighted the team where recognised in this way and appreciate the customer and provider nominating us. However, this is what we are about: working alongside and with people to see the things they want to achieve happen.”

The Amsterdam 300 challenge

Guest post from Emily Worsley

Scope Amsterdam 300 challenge

As the Amsterdam 300 challenge began and I watched the 65 road cyclists set off into the night, I hoped their training and excited energy would be enough to fuel them through to the finish 300 miles away in Amsterdam. This was the first time this event had ever taken place and was due to raise £78,000 for our vital work with disabled people and their families, so it was important that it went well.

For months these participants had been working hard to raise £1,200 each for Scope and prepare their bodies for what would be a gruelling, physical ride across four countries to reach Amsterdam just two days later. Night cycling, weather conditions, lack of sleep and physical exhaustion were just some of the elements these cyclists were facing, but all of them were more than up for the challenge… maybe the thought of a little belated ‘Dutch courage’ on arrival in Amsterdam was a big motivation!

Travelling along with the event (not by bike I hasten to add!), it was incredible to watch these cyclists pull together, motivate each other and work as a team and I think this really epitomises what a charity fundraising event is all about. All of them made it… just… and I admire their determination, not only on the event itself but in their passion for cycling and using that as a means to help a vital cause. Many of them have already put their names down for the next leg in 2012 on our London to Paris 24, which sees our team cycle from London to Paris in just 24 hours! This just shows how exciting these events are and I can’t wait to see more fundraising coming in for Scope as a result!

Coping with the Cuts

Scope and leading independent think tank Demos have teamed up to produce their Coping with the Cuts report that looks at the impact local cuts are having on the lives of disabled people and their families living in England and Wales.

I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in what’s happening to their local services to have a look at our interactive map, and browse through the report to see how their council is coping http://disability-cuts-map.demos.co.uk/

We know that the cuts are likely to affect people in different ways, but if you are at all concerned, it’s really important that you get in touch with your local council to tell them.

Tell your local councillor to stand up for disabled people locally and protect the services in your community. Telling your story is a great way of making your council understand the true impact of funding decisions on the lives of people they represent.

Don’t miss your chance to have your say. Use our template email to share your views. It takes seconds to do but could make a big difference to disabled people living near you. Make sure the people you care about know what’s happening in their area too by sharing Demos’ report with friends and family or by joining the conversation live on Twitter (#localcuts).

Top 10 Scope memorable legacies

After trawling though our archives, here are Scope’s top 10 most memorable legacy gifts…

10. The grand piano

A Londoner donated a baby grand piano in their will. It was later valued at £10,000. The only problem was trying to remove it from the house’s basement.

9. The paintings

An art lover left Scope a number of paintings by popular impressionists Georges Rouault and Chaim Soutine in their will. The proceeds of their sale, on the individual’s wishes, were to be split evenly between 24 charities including Scope, the British Red Cross and Help the Aged.

Such was the quality of the paintings and the fame of the artists; they were auctioned across the world in Paris, London, New York and Zurich. The paintings sold for prices ranging from £50,000 to over £1 million, with Scope being the beneficiary of just over 4% of the proceeds.

8. The land in the Bahamas

In March 2009 Scope was donated a small plot of land in the Bahamas. Valuations on the land have ranged massively – from £8,000 – £200,000. These fluctuations combined with legal difficulties in the Caribbean have meant he plot has been surprisingly difficult to sell.

7. Royalties from a radio and TV star

Scope was donated the royalties from the radio and television work of the 1950s and ‘60s radio and TV star Wilfred Pickles OBE. Pickles was a big supporter of Scope, then called the Spastics Society, and he opened the Wilfred Pickles School for Spastics at Tixover Grange, Rutland in 1955. His popular radio game show, Have a Go, stretched from 1946 – 67 and earned him national recognition. His work on the ITV sitcom, For the love of Ada, was also a popular show in the early 1970s. Scope is entitled to payments for the next 37 years.

6. Oil well shares in Canada

A Canadian gave Scope and an another charity an equal share of his estate of just over £140,000. It later emerged however the donation included a number of shares held in oil wells in Alberta, Canada.

5. Royalties from J Milton Haynes music hall-era poem, The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God

Read the poem here.

4. The school wing

Supporters that were given a tour of Scope’s Ingfield Manor school in Sussex were so impressed with the school that they donated over £50,000 for a new wing to be added, which has greatly benefitted the students.

3. The parent befriending scheme

A generous lady left £30,000 to Scope which she specifically wished to be spent in the Isle of Wight. Scope is using the money to establish a face-to-face support service for parents of disabled children on the Isle of Wight.

2. The residential centre

Jon Laverneo had cerebral palsy and lived in a Scope home most of his life. A relative left a legacy large enough to establish a residential home for disabled adults in Sunderland. A purpose-built four-person bungalow called Laverneostands as a reminder of Jon and the legacy his family left.

1. The swamp!

Scope has been left a 26-acre plot of land just outside of Macclesfield, Cheshire. Discussions were held over turning the area into a canal-side marina, and there are even plans to convert the land into a sports complex, but nothing has yet been confirmed. Estate agents described it as a “development opportunity”.

Find out more about giving a gift to Scope in your will.

Sports day

Sports day

Sports day 2011 was again a great success at Orchard Manor transition service with bright and warm weather all day allowing for all planned activities to go ahead, including homemade ice cream at break time.

As last year, the electric wheelchair, cycling and walker races went down really well with all of the young people working really hard to win points for their teams. This year we had grown to four teams, having a higher number of young people taking part than last year.

The highlight of the day was the five-a-side football tournament with both staff and young people taking part with enthusiasm and energy to win the matches.

This year’s overall winners were Flat 1 who are now in possession of the coveted Orchard Manor sports day plaque which has been engraved for them and will stay in their possession to be fought after again at next year’s sports day.

Working as an intern in Scope’s campaigns team

Today marks my third week working as an intern in Scope’s campaigns team. They haven’t fired me yet, so I figure I must be doing something right! I’ll be working here part-time for the next three months, and I already feel like I’m setting in nicely.

I’ve just moved back home from university, and will finish my MA in Political Theory at the end of August when I submit my dissertation. If you ever want someone to ramble at you about social construction, implicit bias and stereotypes against marginalised groups, I am definitely your girl. This position was my first interview post-university, so naturally I’m thrilled to have the job, and I’m hoping that this marks the start of a fulfilling career in the campaigning charity sector.

This is my first office job, and all the trimmings of office life seem very novel and exciting to me – my own desk with a little stationery pot, the ever-flowing tea and coffee and even my own work email account. But Scope isn’t just any office. Here, there’s a definite sense of people working together for a common goal that is larger and more important than simply turning over a profit.

As a disabled person, it’s also pretty nice to find myself in an environment where disability is unremarkable, where the gleam of wheels or the sight of snoozing service animals is present and perfectly ordinary. It’s nice to know that no one will bat an eyelid when I get my insulin out at lunch or take my medication with my tea in the afternoon.

I’m having a great time. I’m learning loads about the way a campaigning organisation works, and I’m working with great people who value my input and include me in their work. I have a sneaking suspicion that the next three months are going to fly by.

Find out more about volunteering vacancies with Scope.

The Trendsetters win a Scope award!

Linford Christie with Trendsetters

Scope’s Trendsetters were the worthy winners of a Scope award for Working Together… well done, Trendsetters!

This award shows how much Scope appreciates the hard work the Trendsetters are putting in to the project, and how well they are working together with Scope staff and each other to produce information and resources for young disabled people.

The award was presented at a meeting in London, and Bradley and Vanique were there to accept the award on behalf of the whole Trendsetters group. Bradley said, “We were nervous when we got there because we saw loads of people and my Nan said ‘Oh, that’s Linford Christie’ then they said that Trendsetters had won.”

Bradley and Vanique went up on stage to collect the award and have their photo taken, and they talked to Linford after the presentation and told him all about the Trendsetters project and all the different things they were doing. Vanique said, “We both felt shy but Linford talked to us about Trendsetters and Bradley told him about the video he is going to make about how difficult it is to use London buses.”

Congratulations to all the Trendsetters for winning this award, and thank you to Bradley and Vanique who made it to the venue at very short notice and did a fantastic job.

This project is just getting better and better! If you want to get involved please contact us at response@scope.org.uk

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

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