Animals can have an amazing effect on our pupils, inspiring positive responses and results.
Linwood has had the pleasure of running several animal therapy sessions over the years. We have had visits from Robbie, a golden retriever, who used to listen to pupils read. Many of these pupils felt uncomfortable reading aloud in class but soon gained a lot of confidence reading to Robbie and were capable of finishing whole books! We also had a rabbit that visited the PMLD classes. Pupils were able to stroke him and watch him hop around the class.
In June 2021, a school therapy dog called Sophie was introduced to Linwood Campus. Sophie has made such a positive impact already – helping children with anxiety and building their confidence.
The calming influence of an animal is so rewarding and we will be developing this further in the future. We are careful about what animals come into class – teachers do thorough risk assessments and animals are brought into school by people who have had the relevant checks.
Dance at Linwood is a multi-sensory experience which includes work on the vestibular (movement) and the proprioception (body position) senses.
Dance is a time for free exploration and helps support sensory processing.
With the use of music and props many skills are developed such as:
- Fine and gross motor skills
- Co-operation and communication
- Imagination and play.
Our dance tutor, Linda Tee-Vides, is highly experienced at tailoring each session to the specific needs of the individual. Each class is unique!
Horticultural therapy is the use of gardening and horticulture to bring about benefits to the pupils we support. For example, from being outside in the fresh air to moving heavy bags of compost which allows excess energy to be released in a constructive manner. It can also be rewarding to watch the growing process from seed to plant/flower. Pupils are then encouraged to eat the fruits and vegetables that are grown.
The benefits of massage include relaxation and relief from anxiety. It can also support tactile sensitivity issues and release muscle tension. Massage is also a good way of promoting positive touch.
Massage is widely used across the school such as in whole class activities (circle time), 1:1 sessions or even incorporated into lessons such as ‘mathsage’!
With input from a trained massage therapist, basic techniques can be used by members of the school to help pupils.
Music therapy uses the special qualities of music in a shared relationship with children to meet personal needs, support learning and promote healing and change.
Music therapists work in a music-centred way that focuses on the individual needs of the pupil.
A music therapist visits Linwood once a week, providing whole class sessions.
Music therapy is an evidence-based practice effective in:
- Developing communication
- Reducing stress and tension
- Extending movement and physical co-ordination
- Assisting memory, imagination and thought processing
Occupational therapy is used to support students to have full access to their education and to assist in overcoming challenges that may prevent that from occurring.
Occupational therapists visit Linwood on a regular basis. They share the sensory processing challenges that many of our pupils have and advise on how we can best support them. They also advise on postural management, wheelchairs and physical aids for the classroom or bathroom.
The aim of physiotherapy is to encourage each child to reach their maximum physical potential.
The team work with our pupils with the most profound and complex needs pupils. We have a physiotherapist who provides therapy programmes for individuals. The programmes are carried out by the therapist who works closely with key staff within the class. They are done on a daily basis and sometimes integrated into general class activities. Occasionally they are more specific and will need to be done out of class to provide privacy for the pupil.
The idea of ‘little and often’ is usually the best way to make a difference, whether that is to maintain a movement, to gain a new movement/posture or to develop a new movement. The more we do it, the better the quality of life for the pupil.
The therapist works in the school on Monday and Thursday mornings.
Reflexology treatment is similar to a foot massage but uses specific movements and pressure over the reflex points which correspond to different parts of the body via the nervous system.
The benefits range from relaxation, relief from medication side effects and control of general symptoms such as reflux, constipation and headaches.
Reflexology is an in-depth and complex therapy which should only be performed by a trained therapist. Anne Spencer is our trained reflexologist. Key staff have been trained by Anne, who is currently not on site due to Covid restrictions. Her profile can be found below: