Special Needs Workshop

We recently had a fantastic opportunity to host a training workshop to help people understand more about people with special needs and how the expressive arts can be used in interactions and teaching. Training at the one day event was delivered by two retired UK head teachers of children with special needs, Michele and Morag.

Attending the event, we had a range of people including parents of children with special needs, a musician, an actor, a pastor, students, teachers and church representatives. This was an initial session to break down some barriers and provide a little bit of knowledge for people interested in children with special needs but with no experience and practical advice and skills for those who interact with children on a regular basis.

From the very beginning, we knew this was going to be an informative session. The chairs had been arranged in lines but we were asked to move them into an arch to promote participation and interaction. There was also discussion around the language used when discussing the topic. The one key thing that the trainers wanted people to go away with was the mindset that “They are children first – they just happen to have special needs”. This is why we shouldn’t say “an autistic child or a Down’s child”, we say ‘a child with autism’ or ‘a child with Down’s Syndrome. ‘

Participants were introduced to a variety of different types of special need and how they can be caused by genetics, illness (such as food poisoning) during pregnancy, difficulty at birth, lack of stimulation and accident or trauma.

In the afternoon, the room was set up for activities in drama, music and art and participants worked their way through each section. There was some fantastic music produced once the teams made their own instruments from recycled materials such as bottles and cartons and very proud faces as pieces of art emerged through painting with vegetables, balls and balloons!

Feedback from those who attended was very positive…with many asking for more training sessions in the future. As one participant said “This is like the light piercing the darkness. There are so many things I had never thought of before but make perfect sense!” We hope that we can continue to bring the light to more people in the coming months and slowly start to change the way people think about children with special needs and see them being included more in family and community events!