Special Needs Nurseries, Schools & Colleges
As well as working in hospitals with sick children, another extremely important part of our work is our nurseries, schools & college programme. This is specially designed to enhance communication and expression for children and young adults with special needs.
Over our years of experience of working with children’s and families impacted by disability, often multiple and complex needs too, we have discovered the huge benefits our work brings and the differences we can make.
Children and families with disabilities are often forgotten in out typical world, and by that very fact are isolated and unable to access lots of everyday activities that the rest of us take for granted.
At Laughter Specialists we are passionate about these families having fun and laugh together whenever they can. We know that laughter can distract, is good for physical heath and overall well-being and can also build resilience, a strength that most of these families need.
We do outreach, classroom sessions, parties, events, in fact whatever is needed by the education settings and/or the families.
We have had some amazing ‘firsts’, experiences with some of these children, probably the most profound being a child that was 8 years old and non-verbal saying his first words !!!
We visit a number of schools across East Anglia and are always happy to discuss requirements of any education establishment across the country. We can sometimes access funding for a school, or the setting itself may wish to raise funds for us to come in.
Progressive school Harlow Fields embracing Laughter to help in the education and development of their students
Over the last couple of years we have worked in partnership with the amazing Harlow Fields School to develop a curriculum support programme using Laughter and Fun. This enhances social and emotional opportunities for their students.
Social play and fun is critical to the development of children’s social skills and emotional intelligence. Restricted play can result in more deficient social skills and can exacerbate life-long physical, mental, emotional and social problems.
Therapeutic approaches to laughter can provide exercise that works on the body and mind simultaneously. They boost systems that are switched off or disrupted by stress, especially the circulatory and digestive systems. They stimulate willingness to learn, retention, and improves creativity and self discipline. It can also provide tools to deal with stressful situations in new ways, providing an alternative to anger and aggression and resulting fear.
New research shows that Laughter promotes playful behaviour that can improve continual learning of social and emotional skills.
Our more recent work with the school began when we were funded by the Morrisons Foundation to work in a special school and a hospital in Harlow. We ran weekly sessions over a 6 month period at Harlow Fields School and the Princess Alexandra Hospital Harlow. Once the project was complete, the school were so impressed with the impact of our service on the whole school, students and staff alike, that they approached their Governing Body to get the approval to utilise their ‘Pupil Premium’ funding allowance. They wanted to continue our sessions and develop the work further. More recently, during Covid 19 pandemic, this has included providing outreach support services to students and families using social distancing and PPE in outside spaces at their homes. This has provided some much needed respite and stress relief creating some great moments in difficult situations.
‘’ Laughter Specialist sessions were woven into the curriculum topics grids and brought an alternative approach to classroom learning. Over time, pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties began to show anticipation of the sessions, this could be seen through facial expressions and general excitement. The sessions provided numerous sensory experiences, including lots of dance and music that could be accessed by all pupils. Pupils who were unsure of strangers (becoming distressed when new people entered the classroom) became relaxed and enjoyed the experiences. Pupils with uncomfortable medical issues became fully engaged, vocalising to the specialists and laughing at their actions. Pupils reluctant to engage with group work, engaged with the sessions and enjoyed shared experiences with their peers. Pupils then built on these experiences and developed improved classroom relationships. New to the school pupils, who had presented as shy and timid began interacting with their peers, joining paired activities and eventually standing in front of the class to complete tasks such as the table wipe and karaoke! Specific pupils with behavioural difficulties began to see the positives in laughing and joining in with their class group. The sessions also impacted positively on teaching staff who were invited to join in with the sessions, lifting everyone’s spirits. Staff commented on how the sessions developed children’s awareness, interaction and concentration skills, decreased stress hormones and promoted a sense of wellbeing.”
Deputy Head Harlow
The Laughter Specialists - July 2020
The Laugher Specialists are just that – specialists who unlock the laughter that is deep inside us all. They have supported the well-being of our pupils and their families through both good and bad times. They work collaboratively with us in delivering sessions that link with the topics and themes in our differentiated curriculum to raise the self-esteem and confidence of children and young people with special needs.
Just to see them come through the school gate is uplifting.
Thank you Laughter Specialists!
We also work with mainstream schools. This often involves us running a session and explaining our work to the students who often then fundraise within their school to benefit other children. A lovely example of Pay-It-Forward, and an excellent opportunity to include empathy, compassion, and inclusion, which is an important part of the education curriculum.
Our work is always bespoke in nature to individuals and schools needs, please give us a call or drop us an email if you would like to discuss any of our work.