“We’d like to tell you about how a silicone pastry brush has helped Aaron with his communication!”

Aaron has complex needs. When he first came to live with Henshaws, he was uncomfortable with eye contact and struggled with communication. We support Aaron using a fantastic approach called TACPAC, which is a guide to working with people who have a sensory impairment and have different communication needs.

Rather than speech, TACPAC uses touch and music to help communication and social skills. We use music, instruments and objects; it’s all about touch and feeling. This has brought a calm to Aaron’s life.

The initial TACPAC training course was done by Dawn, Aaron’s key worker, and another member of staff, and they have since shared their knowledge with the staff team to support the sensory sessions. Sessions are twice a week, with extra session when Aaron chooses or needs them. There is a special room set up just for these sessions, and you can tell by the expression on Aaron’s face that he really enjoys it. You just have to say TACPAC and he heads to the room, takes his shoes off and gets comfortable.

As too many options can be overwhelming, we give Aaron a selection of 3 CDs and he then chooses the music for the session. We use a box of objects, all with a sensory focus, and these objects are matched to the music. This also gives a consistency which is reassuring for Aaron. We also adjust sessions to include what he really likes, such as the xylophone or gently stroking his arms with the silicone brush. Everything can be part of the experience; there’s a box to tap out rhythms, his guitar is there for a strum, sometimes we incorporate a foot rub and even the hanging shell mobile makes a beautiful musical noise!

These sessions have helped us bond with Aaron, and given him the chance to communicate in different ways. He’s so much more relaxed and happier since we started the sessions, and we love seeing him smile. It’s a calm environment to build trust and social interaction, and he’s much more sociable and more confident with eye contact now. Previously he wasn’t comfortable sitting still or able to interact. Now trust has been built, Aaron will allow or even initiate touch or contact for communication. He also will choose to sit with others in the house, and likes to go visit Carol (another resident) and listen to music with her. He even allows the Chiropodist to visit and cut his toenails.

When Aaron first moved here it was difficult for him to interact or be comfortable in a social setting. TACPAC has been a godsend really. We never would have believed one day Aaron would be confident and happy enough to sing!

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Jane
Jane
Jane is Marketing Assistant at Henshaws, with a focus on Housing and Support services.