Approaches with Students with Severe, Complex and Profound Disabilities

ECTS Value: 5 ECTS

Contact Hours: 25

Self Study Hours: 60

Assessment Hours: 40


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

This module will provide an overview of the approaches used to help teach learners with severe, complex and profound learning disabilities. It will assist educators to understand better how to best coordinate and inform educational approaches to assist the learner’s individual needs.

By the end of this programme, participants should be able to:


a. Create sensory strategies to regulate the student’s level of arousal through appropriate activities, within the class and outdoors.

b. Produce multisensory activities considering curricular and cross-curricular areas.

c. Create innovative activities using multimodal means and approaches.

d. Assist students with different postures and transfer methods.

e. Adapt the functional curriculum to include more activities that focus on a multi-sensory approach.


a. Identify and examine the general principles of Sensory Integration.

b. Acquire basic strategies to regulate the level of arousal and improve attention skills.

c. Outline the benefits of a multi-sensory room and relaxation room and how they can be incorporated with the curriculum

d. Outline the importance of sensory play.

e. Explore different types of transfers and equipment.

f. Discuss various positioning of the student with physical disabilities and their benefits.

g. Outline the benefits of a multi-sensory room and relaxation room and how they can be incorporated into the curriculum.


a. Plan indoor and outdoor strategies to regulate the student’s level of arousal throughout the day;

b. Create functional activities using multi-sensory play and multimodal approaches.

c. Use appropriate medium in transferring the student.

d. Plan of day routine to assist the students’ needs and posture.

e. Use of multi-sensory room equipment.

Assessment Methods

This programme adopts continuous and summative methods of assessment including assignments, online tasks, reflective journals, projects and video presentations. For further details, kindly refer to the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy and Procedures.

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List

1. Carter, M., & Stephenson, J. (2011; 2012). The use of multi-sensory environments in schools servicing children with severe disabilities. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 24(1), 95-109.

2. Davies, C. (2019). Creating Multi-Sensory Environments: Practical Ideas for Teaching and Learning. Routledge: London

3. Fowler, S. (2006). Sensory stimulation: Sensory-focused activities for people with physical and multiple disabilities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

4. Grove, N. (2017). The big book of Storysharing: A handbook for personal storytelling with children and young people who have severe communication difficulties. Routledge.

5. Kurtz, E. A. (2014). A sourcebook for sensorimotor learning: simple low-cost games and activities or young children including those with autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and other learning differences (1-84905-977-2, 978-1-84905-977-0).

6. Pagliano, P. (2017). Multisensory Environments. Routledge: London.

7. Park, K. (2017). Interactive storytelling: Developing Inclusive stories for children and adults. Routledge.

8. Reebye, P. N., & Stalker, A. (2007). Understanding regulation disorders of sensory processing in children: Management strategies for parents and professionals. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

9. Ross, S. M., Bogart, K. R., Logan, S. W., Case, L., Fine, J., & Thompson, H. (2016). Physical activity participation of disabled children: A systematic review of conceptual and methodological approaches in health research. Frontiers in public health, 4, 187.

10. Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2011). Use of multisensory environments in schools for students with severe disabilities: Perceptions from schools. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 276-290.

Supplementary Reading List

1. Caldwell, P., & Caldwell, P. (2008). Using intensive interaction and sensory integration: A handbook for those who support people with severe autistic spectrum disorder. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

2. Emmons, P., & Anderson, L. (2005). Understanding sensory dysfunction: Learning, development and sensory dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities and bipolar disorder. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

3. Stemar, M. (2001). Posture and Movement of the Child with Cerebral Palsy. Elsevier Health Sciences Publishers.

4. Tachibana, Y., Miyazaki, C., Ota, E., Mori, R., Hwang, Y., Kobayashi, E., … & Kamio, Y. (2017). A systematic review and meta-analysis of comprehensive interventions for pre-school children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). PloS one, 12(12), e0186502.

5. Unwin, K. L., Powell, G., & Jones, C. R. (2021). The use of Multi-Sensory Environments with autistic children: Exploring the effect of having control of sensory changes. Autism, 13623613211050176.

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