Within Issue 86

It is always a pleasure to edit a sharing perspective edition of PMLD LINK as it allows us to consider a variety of topics. There is, throughout the edition, a vital underlying principle that bridges the gap between education, care and health for children and adults with PMLD. That is engagement. To live a fulfilled life adults and children with PMLD need to be able to engage with the environment around them, the community and the people within it. This issue includes articles about communication, changing legislation for schools, optimising environments, empowering people with PMLD to use music and the opening up of the community for students with PMLD, to name just a few.

The importance of interaction and communication for people with PMLD is explored within several of the articles in this issue. Having a voice and having the ability to communicate is a fundamental human right. Intensive Interaction empowers people to experience social interactions, whether that is within education, health or care. Amandine Mouriere challenges some of the misconceptions of Intensive Interaction within schools stating that the more we raise awareness and understand what is at stake, the more we are able to influence practice and culture. While, within her article, Shahana Pervin Kakoly discusses Intensive Interaction including how effective it is on challenging behaviour in adults. Rob Ashdown provides a guide to developing communication and interaction.

The case study that Claire Fraser-Tyler has written highlights the importance of fun, enjoyment and humour. As a music therapist she uses music to develop Elsie’s feeling of self-worth and the sense of being valued. A fulfilled life that is fun is what everyone deserves. Carrie Lennard describes this empowerment and ability to have fun when she talks about using the improvisation approach with a young girl with PMLD. How better to have fun than to have a story. I had great fun sharing Peter Well’s story from the Winter edition, Sheldon and the Hare, with my class. They loved the slime! In this edition he shares a sensory story about losing his granny’s gnashers!

Educationalist amongst our readers are all to aware of the changes in assessment for our students with PMLD. The Rochford Review is explained by Richard Aird, who was a member of the independent group, established by the Minister of State for Schools in July 2015, to review statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. The report recognises the importance of engagement. Martin Goodwin discusses the Rochford Review with a more comprehensive musing than mine. Flexibility within the curriculum enables teachers to be creative in their provision such as the community based curriculum Cathy Bradshaw discusses. School and education is a demanding place for any teacher and evidencing progress is a perpetual challenge. This is even harder for teachers of children with PMLD, who are also encompassing postural, personal care, medical and even nutritional needs. Amanda Brown shares her experience of the difficulty in balancing meeting the holistic needs with the pressures of Ofsted. She describes how she maintained the core values care, respect, perseverance, patience, enjoyment and aspiration during what was a difficult process.

The importance of environment can not be underestimated. For any person with a sensory impairment or sensory processing difficulty environmental triggers can potentially be a barrier to engagement or interaction. A room that is too bright, too loud, too hot, smells can be distracting, uncomfortable and even confusing. For autistic people it can even cause incredible anxiety. Richard Hirstwood provides an example of an environmental assessment as an example of how we evaluate the sensory environments.

There are all the usual sections on News, Books, Resources, Courses and other sources of information. Margaret Tyson and colleagues report the views of carers experiences of Annual Health Checks for people who have a learning disability, indicating that a proactive approach with health checking and health protection and promotion needs to happen. I hope all our readers find things which interest, excite, and help them in their day to day practice. Future Focus introduces the topic for the next issue ‘Life as an Adult’ and all the details for sending articles are given there. Finally, thank you to all the writers of articles for their contributions to this issue.