Multi-Sensory Storytelling and Music Friendship Club
A story by PAMIS Fife
This demonstration project offered children and young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and their family carers/ siblings an opportunity to participate in multi-sensory storytelling, music and craft sessions.
The Friendship Club operated on a seasonal basis over the school holidays. The emphasis was on family, fun and friendship.
What Multi-Sensory Storytelling and Music Friendship Club did
The PAMIS Friendship club was run in partnership with parents and Fife Council. Parents were involved in the project steering group. We commissioned on a sessional basis: a professional storyteller; a musician; an art teacher; Fife Council childcare practitioners. All had knowledge and experience of working with children with multiple support needs. A member of PAMIS staff was present at each session.
We advertised the Friendship Club using a beautifully designed poster (a sibling who is an illustrator did this for us). The poster was distributed via Fife “special schools”, Fife Direct (Fife Council website) and through the PAMIS database. We also advertised the club through partner agencies such as RNIB and SENSE Scotland. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter was used in the latter stages of the project.
Friendship Club sessions were held on 6 Saturdays during the summer school holidays and 2 Saturdays in the October break. The sessions were 2 hours in duration, morning and afternoon. We also held a Christmas Extravaganza and a Showcase event towards the end of the project.
The content of the sessions comprised crafts, music and multi-sensory storytelling. We themed the sessions. The crafts, music and stories all fitted together e.g. crafts included making very simple musical instruments, the music encouraged a sense of group cohesion and friendships, and the stories were accessible on many levels, through sight, smell, touch and sound. The stories were repetitive and participative.
The sessions were fun for both able bodied and disabled people. When designing the club activities we thought siblings would want separate activities and that carers would want time away from the person they care for. In practice, families wanted to stay together. Families told us it was great to have a fun activity that they could do together as a whole family.
What PAMIS Fife has learned
One of the project challenges was to keep the project focused on people with PMLD. The project steering group identified that there was a gap in service provision for children and young people with a dual diagnosis of severe autism and learning disabilities, particularly if the child or young person presented with behaviour's that challenged.
The Friendship club would have liked to accommodate this group of young people and their carers but we could not meet the needs of both groups in the one setting. The project group were also asked to consider the needs of children and young people with less severe learning disabilities but the potential increase in club numbers would have meant children with PMLD getting less attention and we wanted to be careful not to dilute the experience for people with PLMD. A deliberate decision not to target other disabled groups was therefore taken.