Enhancing Communication for Pupils with PMLD

Communication and social interaction are key benefits of the Story Massage Programme at Ty Gwyn Special School in Cardiff. The school is now a Centre of Excellence and has been using the programme effectively with pupils with PMLD and autism for over two years. We talk to Hollie Parsons, senior teaching assistant, who says: “The Story Massage Programme has made a real difference to our pupils and we use it regularly whenever and wherever we can.” Continue reading

Story Massage in Lockdown – Fun Photos!

We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to the Story Massage Programme during lockdown. It seems that many people are discovering the benefits for the first time, whilst others are happily rediscovering them! And many more are saying that massage stories have been ‘life-saving’, ‘the total highlight’, ‘a real blessing’, ‘heaven sent’. So we have gathered together some photos to show just a few of the ways the programme has brought fun, connection and comfort.


Gemma’s Baby and Toddler Zoom Sessions

Gemma from Me & My Wellbeing has run two blocks of four week Story Massage, Movement and Song Online sessions via Zoom. These have been attended by those families who were regulars at her Story Massage face-to-face groups. She says they have appreciated being able to connect during lockdown. The toddlers responded really well as they were used to the massage strokes.


Stephanie’s Live Sessions for Families

Stephanie, a nurture teacher at Glenboig Primary School, led online Story Massage sessions for the whole school. She was amazed at how many families joined in and said it was a wonderful way of bringing everyone together when they were so far apart.


Megan’s Seaside Walk

Megan has been enjoying massage stories with her mum, Emma, who says she does the story as a massage story then follows it with sensory props. Here’s Megan holding a yellow balloon to give the feeling of the sun in a Seaside Walk massage story.


Verna’s Weekly School Videos

We’ve been delighted to hear how many people have stepped right out of their comfort zone to record videos for children at home. Here’s Verna, a teaching assistant from Hawthorns School with her trusty teddy all dressed up for an Under the Sea themed massage story. We’ve heard from families who have really appreciated these videos and home-school partnership through the Story Massage Programme.


Luella and Dotty

Dotty, the rabbit, looks very chilled under Luella’s nurturing touch. And she is not the only pet to relax with massage stories – we have had positive feedback from owners of dogs, cats and even horses!


Leigh on Instagram

Leigh from The Little Wellness Company has been demonstrating massage stories with her daughter, Myla on Instagram. Leigh talks about the benefits and then suggests that families follow-along at home. Myla loves to do the strokes on her doll or teddy at the same time!


Maisy and Poppy with Minibeasts…

Maisy and Poppy make massage stories into a real sensory experience. They spend time preparing sensory props to accompany the words. Here they are getting ready for a massage story about mini beasts. Such creativity.


… and Evie in the Jungle!

And here’s Evie all ready for a Story Massage adventure in the jungle. Her mum, Alli, says Evie loves massage stories and finds her level of response and engagement is ‘phenomenal’.


Emmanuel on the Big Screen

Many schools followed along with Mary and Emmanuel’s sessions using a big screen in the classroom. Here are Key Stage 2 children at Cherry Garden School getting involved  – with very relaxed looks on their faces.


Jo in the Park

Jo from RevitaliseU-Kent Well-Being for Children has been preparing for family sessions once lockdown ends. She has been sharing sessions in the park with two very excited three year old twins. And she is currently looking for a name for the new member of her well-being team!


Marie’s Bookworms

Marie shared Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with children at Bookworms Day Care for the first time during lockdown. They discussed positive touch and the children learnt the importance of asking permission. They thought it was ‘wonderful’ and made them feel ‘relaxed’ and ‘dizzy’.


Hugh’s Haircut

Like many people with sensory issues, Hugh used to hate having his hair cut. During lockdown, his mother, Emma, found it especially hard to manage the upset and anxiety of haircuts at home. However, specially written massage stories have helped calm and reassure him. Now he even laughs while having his hair cut!


Would you like to train in the Story Massage Programme?

Are you inspired by the benefits of the programme during lockdown?  Would you like to train to share massage stories in your work or home? We run a popular online course to teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and use them to adapt familiar stories or even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for Early Years practitioners, teachers, therapists, those working with people with additional needs, Relax Kids coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children or adults. All the information is here: Story Massage Online Training.

Story Massage for Children with Autism – Ten Key Benefits

We have been so delighted to hear feedback about the many benefits of the Story Massage Programme for children with autism. Benefits include relaxation, touch tolerance, emotional regulation, increased concentration, better sleep and social connection. Here is a collection of some of the reported benefits of the Story Massage Programme for children on the autistic spectrum. Continue reading

Easing the Anxiety of Haircuts

Like many people with sensory issues, 10 year old Hugh Murphy used to hate having his hair cut. During lockdown, his mother, Emma, found it especially hard to manage the upset and anxiety of haircuts at home. Then she tried using the Story Massage Programme and found it helped calm and reassure him. Emma explains more…

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Homeschooling for PMLD Learners

We have been delighted to support homeschooling for PMLD learners during lockdown. Our regular Facebook and Instagram Live sessions have prompted amazing feedback from both parents and schools who struggle to find ideas that are appropriate and relevant. Here we look at how the Story Massage Programme has been a highlight for Courtney, 14, and her mum, Sue Norton.

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Self-Massage on Hands and Arms

Self-massage on hands and arms is being introduced into many schools and colleges as a way of continuing the benefits of the Story Massage Programme whilst social distancing is in place. This blog shows how it can be applied in practice. It is inspired by the work of Becky Drury, a teacher at Springside Primary School working with learners who have PMLD. She is pictured below with her son, Dexter, a great fan of the Story Massage Programme!

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Staying in Touch – Literally!

The power of positive, nurturing touch is so important in these strange and uncertain times. And whilst ‘social distancing’ measures are in place, we are finding ways of staying in touch (literally!) with the Story Massage Programme.

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Helping Children Cope with Bereavement

The Story Massage Programme became a beneficial part of a bedtime routine for a 7 year old who finds it hard to sleep after the death of a much-loved grandmother. “Massage stories really helped her cope with bereavement,” says her mother, Kath Routledge, a Story Massage Instructor, Relax Kids Coach and now an author, “And two years later, we are still sharing the massage story.” Continue reading

Sharing Story Massage Overseas

The Story Massage Programme is now global… Our Story Massage online course has opened up whole new opportunities for people living abroad. We also get many requests from overseas for our book. In this blog, we will look at how our UK based Instructors are travelling overseas to share the benefits of the programme with children, young people and their families in all corners of the world. Continue reading

Bedtime Story Massage for Thomas

The Story Massage Programme is now an integral part of a bedtime routine for Thomas, a lively 8 year old boy with complex needs and PMLD. “We use it every evening to prepare Thomas for his bath and then bed,” says his mother, Lucy, “He always laughs and smiles. He loves it!”


Story Massage for Siblings

Lucy was introduced to the Story Massage Programme after buying the book Once Upon a Touch… Story Massage for Children for Thomas and his sister, Emily, two years ago. It was a big hit with Emily, then aged 9, and she began writing her own massage stories. Here’s one she wrote especially for her brother to help him sleep.


Connecting with Story Massage

“Story Massage is such a lovely way for us all to connect with Thomas,” says Lucy, “He likes all the different strokes -The Circle is his favourite. As he has such complex needs, we find it best to do the strokes on his chest while he is lying on his back – either on his bed or the physio table.”


Bedtime Story for Thomas

Following the success of Emily’s massage story, Lucy decided to write her own bedtime story for Thomas. This is now pinned up beside his bed and used every evening – sometimes by Lucy or her husband, sometimes by her mother or a carer. “We all follow the same routine and Thomas, like many children with PMLD,  really responds well to it,” says Lucy.

Here are the words of Lucy’s Bedtime Story.


And here is a video of Thomas enjoying his bedtime story.


Thomas Shows Anticipation

As the video shows, Thomas clearly loves the fun of the Story Massage Programme. Lucy has also noticed that it helps with anticipation as Thomas starts to vocalise sounds to show that he is expecting certain moves or a line in the story. “For example, when we do Animal Friends from the book,” says Lucy, “He starts laughing just before we do The Circle at the end. He seems to love the last line of the story which is ‘All Sammy’s friends are different and that’s what makes them special’.


Riding on a Star

It was a great pleasure to meet Lucy at the Raising The Bar 111 National PMLD Conference in October 2019 where she gave a presentation about the joys and challenges of raising a son with PMLD. You can follow her story on her facebook page and blog: Riding on a Star. Lucy is pictured below with Mary Atkinson (right), co-founder of the Story Massage Programme and Joanna Grace (left) the inspiration behind The Sensory Projects. You can also find out more about Joanna’s important work with Sensory Stories on our blog: Sensory Stories and the Inclusive Benefits of Narrative.