Challenge our Innovation Centre!

Innovation centre scoot seat

Innovation Centre’s Scoot seat

Can you challenge our Innovation Centre to design a product for your child?

The Innovation Centre brings together a team of designers to produce unique equipment for disabled children. They can help parents find suitable products or build completely new products which may not already be available.

The team at the Innovation Centre already has an impressive portfolio of products under their belt. Some of their more popular items include the Goto seat and the iPad case. Some more of their products can be viewed in the mini gallery below and on our website.

We recently received a lovely letter from a family who received one of the Innovation Centre’s iPad cases. The case went to nine year old Shaya who had already damaged several iPads because he did not have a case that was suitable for his needs. The Cerebra iPad case, which can be seen below was described as “Shaya proof” by his mum.

“We can’t thank you enough for the improvement to the quality of Shaya’s life.”

The Innovation Centre are always eager to hear from parents with their ideas for new products and that’s where you come in! If you have an idea for a product that you can’t find anywhere else or need a product adapted to meet your child’s needs, then get in touch! You can contact the team at or 01792 483688.


Teenage sleep problem solved

Sleeping boyLack of sleep can be a problem for many families, particularly those who have children with a neurological condition. Although sleep problems tend to be associated with younger children, older children and teenagers often need help too.

Cerebra’s Sleep Service provides advice and support to families trying to get a good night’s sleep. Sarah Coldrey, our Sleep Practitioner in the South West recently met with a family whose teenage son’s sleep routine was disrupting his education.

The Hunters have 3 children and sought our help with the sleep issues their eldest son was having – he is 15 years old and has ADHD.  The teenager wasn’t falling asleep until 5am most days and was very tired and missing a lot of school as a result. With important exams ahead this was becoming a real issue.

After meeting with the family and thoroughly assessing their individual circumstances Sarah recommended a technique called ‘Chronotherapy’. This involves altering bedtimes each night, but instead of moving the bedtime backwards gradually as you would with young children (this would take a long time to do and in older children isn’t as successful), you move it forwards, by a few hours each day.

Here is an example of how the times can be moved:

  • 1st night: sleep at 4 a.m., wake at 12 midday
  • 2nd night: sleep at 7 a.m., wake at 3 p.m.
  • 3rd night: sleep at 10 a.m., wake at 6 p.m.
  • 4th night: sleep at 1 p.m., wake at 9 p.m.
  • 5th night: sleep at 4 p.m., wake at 12 p.m.
  • 6th night: sleep at 7 p.m., wake at 3 a.m.
  • 7th night: sleep at 10 p.m., wake at 6 a.m.

This technique can be difficult to introduce as it needs careful management – a parent or carer needs to monitor the child and keep consistently to the timings identified above.

Despite having other children and health issues the family were determined to give their son the best possible chance with his exams and were keen to give the plan a go.

Sarah followed up with the family a couple of weeks later and was delighted to hear that the technique had been successful. The teenager had been consistently sleeping from 10pm – 6am every night and as a result had not missed school for a whole week, a dramatic improvement. Ironically the only issue the family were having was that their son now wanted to go to sleep before 10pm!

For individual advice on your family’s sleep problems please get in touch with our sleep service.

Surfboard success for the Innovation Centre!

The surfboard designed by the Innovation Centre

The surfboard designed by the Innovation Centre

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) recently took on their latest challenge and converted a surfboard so that children with physical disabilities can enjoy the experience of surfing safely.

One such board was sent to the family of young J and their feedback has shown that the surfboard has been a huge success!

The family received the board just before their summer holiday and Mum provided us with some feedback before testing:

“We are all so excited! The board is absolutely amazing, we have all been jumping around the house as we are so thrilled! Fingers crossed this makes him independent and boosts confidence.”

J’s reaction to his new surfboard was definitely a positive one and he told the Innovation that they had sent him “the most coolest board (better than my parents’!).”

According to J’s mum, the surfboard was indeed a success and really made the family’s holiday.

“The surfboard worked wonderfully. Having it with us reallymade our hols.  J independently body boarded at Saunton sands, Croyde, Putsborough and Woolacombe beach! All three of us even caught the same waves!”

The guys at the Cerebra Innovation Centre are currently looking for new challenges. Do you have a need for equipment that isn’t already available on the market or doesn’t quite meet your needs? Maybe you have a completely new idea that you think would benefit your child. Either way, get in touch with the team at or 01792 483688.

SEND reform event gives parents an update

On the 1st July 2015, a Cerebra Forum was held at The Space Centre in Preston which provided an update the SEND Reforms.

Emma Davies, lawyer from Maxwell Gillott, Education Law Specialists gave a brilliant presentation on how the SEND Reforms are working in practice, since the change major changes to SEN Law in September 2104. The presentation provided parents/carers lots of information on Education Health Care Plans, the duty of statutory bodies and common problems.

Thirty parents, carers and professionals attended the event.  There was a Q & A session and lots of discussions during the presentation. The presentation gave parent/ carers a clearer understanding of the new legislation.  The feedback on Emma’s presentation was fantastic with lots of parent/carers asking for another forum next year on the same subject to be updated further.

We have had some very positive feedback from people who attended:

“This event has given me the confidence to challenge! It was excellent and thank you so much.”

“ I feel more positive about getting the right things in place for my children. It was a very informative forum.”

“Great to get updated knowledge. It was very welcoming, great speaker and well organised.”

At the event information was available on national and local SEN organisations and information was provided about forthcoming Cerebra Forums in the North West.

Following the presentation there was a buffet lunch in the beautiful gardens in The Space Centre with the added bonus of sunshine on the hottest day in 9 years!

You can download Emma’s presentation below:

SEND reform presentation

Cerebra Innovation Centre produce new writing slope

Writing slope

Writing slope

This is the new prototype writing slope from the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC). It has many innovative features that we believe make it the best writing slope available… anywhere! It has been developed for any children who may need a writing slope to aid their writing, drawing, posture and hand control and also converts effortlessly into a reading stand.

Using magnets and a gas strut we have enabled lots of adjustability without using knobs and mechanisms so it looks beautiful, and the easy-open and soft-close lid removes any finger trapping risks. The reading and writing ledges help to hold papers, exercise books and reading books in place. They are interchangeable by “popping” off and “snapping” on with the magnets recessed into the faces, and they store inside the slope when not used.

One of the really exciting features is the pen holder. It flips up and down depending if you are writing/drawing or reading, and fits Berol pens directly into the block. This clever system enables children with reduced motor skills to remove and replace the pens with more independence and also by removing the pen lids, means the lids cannot be chewed or lost and eradicates the choking risk. This system also makes for easy checking to see if all pens are present at the end of class. The pens can be changed for dry wipe pens to work on the Formica white board finish.

There is also hand hold cut out of the back for easy mobility.

If you would like to find out more about the Cerebra Innovation Centre or how you can get your hands on one of the writing slopes, contact the team at or 01792 483688.

Acquired Brain Injury – the effect on parents

Stop watch“We knew our lives were changes forever from that point”

Acquired brain injury (ABI) in a young person can present a significant challenge to a family. Research has shown that the well-being of families is essential for the young person’s neuro-rehabilitation.

Clinicians are concerned with creating an optimum environment for a child’s neuro-rehabilitation to take place within, but they are also aware of the vital role that parents play in the rehabilitation itself. Despite the increased needs of the young person, it is of central importance that parents are able to cope with the demands placed on them.

Recent research conducted by the University of Exeter has explored the psychological adjustment process of parents of young people with ABI. Ten parents whose children had experienced ABI were interviewed, and five main themes emerged from the interviews:

Lives Changed Forever

Parents discussed the ABI as representing a significant change in their lives. They described their experiences of loss throughout the journey of their child’s brain injury; for the child that they knew, for their child’s potential, and for their child’s missed experiences. They discussed their child’s dependence on them as something that would not change with time, altering the future they had imagined. Many of the parents discussed the ways in which the ABI had impacted both on individual family members but also on the family as a whole, particularly on siblings.

Sense of Self

Many of the parents discussed the challenges that the ABI raised for their sense of self. For some of the parents, the ABI had a substantial impact on their capacity to engage outside of meeting the needs of their child. This often meant parents taking lengthy periods of time off work, amending their working hours, or giving up their jobs completely. Parents found it easy to prioritise their child’s health initially, however as time passed they described feelings of loss, frustration, and disappointment.

Interaction with Services

Parents expressed the importance of being listened to by health care professionals. Whilst some of the parents described positive experiences of being involved in discussions, and having empathy shown to them, many encountered very different experiences. Some talked about positive relationships with schools however recognised the need for schools to receive specialist information regarding ABI.

Psychological Experiences

The early days following the ABI diagnosis were utterly devastating for the parents, who in many of the cases were faced with the possibility that their child may not survive. The parents described how little they understood about what was happening to their child, and subsequent feelings of anxiety and anger. Several parents described feelings of loss, heartbreak and “brokenness”. Coupled with their experiences of depression, they described a sense of loneliness and isolation from others.

Coping and Adjustment

Parents described several factors that had helped them to adjust. They talked about blocking out feelings and “getting on with it”, as well as drawing on their own personal characteristics and resiliencies. Some of the parents described the value of being able to rationalise, be logical, or to problem solve. Many talked about their experiences of finding a sense of belonging as a result of their interactions with people who understood and were able to empathise with what they were going through.

Some reflected on the experience of the ABI as giving them a changed perspective for the future. Parents discussed how their experiences had enabled them to re-evaluate their priorities, made them a “better person”, and helped them to embrace uncertainty. For some, they felt as though they had been given a second chance, and they embraced a renewed sense of how precious life was.

What does this mean for parents?

This research indicates that paediatric ABI has a significant psychological and emotional impact on parents. Access to psychology services during the initial aftermath of the ABI, and following discharge from hospital, is essential to enable parents and families to manage difficult emotional and psychological experiences. The study also suggests that the provision of support groups, and the facilitation of informal events, where parents can meet with those who are in a similar stage following the ABI, may aid adjustment and coping.

How can Cerebra help parents of young people with ABI?

Cerebra offers a wealth of practical information, advice, and support for parents. For more information on how Cerebra can support you as a parent of a young person with ABI,  Or call our helpline on 0800 328 1159.

For more information on the research study please contact:

Sian Hocking, Trainee Clinical Psychologist,


Autism Awareness Bestsellers in our Library

autism booksWe thought you would like to know that Jessica Kingsley’s (Publishers) ‘Autism Awareness Bestsellers’ are all available in the Cerebra Library:

The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood
2008 ISBN 9781843106692

This is the definitive handbook for anyone affected by Asperger’s syndrome. It brings together information on all aspects of the syndrome for children through to adults. Drawing on case studies from Attwood’s extensive clinical experience, and from his correspondence with individuals with AS, this book is authoritative and extremely accessible.
L6311 in Cerebra Library

LEGO-Based Therapy: how to build social competence through LEGO-Based Clubs for children with autism and related conditions
2014 ISBN 9781849055376

A comprehensive guide to setting up LEGO Therapy groups to promote social skills in children with autism spectrum disorders and related conditions through group LEGO building. It fully explains the approach and gives advice on strategies for successfully seeing children through from ‘LEGO Helper’ to ‘LEGO Genius’.
L6621 in Cerebra Library

Aspergirls: empowering females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone
2010 ISBN 9781849058261

Rudy Simone guides you through every aspect of both personal and professional life, from early recollections of blame, guilt, and savant skills, to friendships, romance and marriage. Employment, career, rituals and routines are also covered. Simone rejects negative views of Aspergirls and empowering them to lead happy and fulfilled lives.
L6275 in Cerebra Library 

The Red Beast: controlling anger in children with Asperger’s Syndrome by Haitham Al-Ghani
2008 ISBN 97818343109433

This vibrant fully illustrated children’s storybook is written for children aged 5+, and is an accessible, fun way to talk about anger, with useful tips about how to ‘tame the red beast’ and guidance for parents on how anger affects children with Asperger’s Syndrome.
C0176 in Cerebra Library 

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman
2006 ISBN 9781843104810

This book takes a playful look at Asperger Syndrome, drawing inspiration from the feline world. Touching, humorous and insightful, this book evokes the difficulties and joys of raising a child who is different and leaves the reader with a sense of the dignity, individuality, and potential of people with AS.
C0147 in Cerebra Library 

Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome? a guide for friends and family by Jude Welton
2003 ISBN: 9781843102069

Meet Adam, a young boy with AS. He helps children understand the difficulties faced by a child with AS, telling them what AS is, how it feels to have AS and how they can help by understanding their differences and appreciating their many talents. This illustrated book is an excellent starting point for family and classroom discussions.
C0093 & C0233 in Cerebra Library

Parenting a Child with Asperger Syndrome: 200 tips and strategies by Brenda Boyd
2003 ISBN 9781843101376

Brenda is mother to thirteen-year-old Kenneth, author of Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything. Brenda discusses parents’ reaction to their child’s AS and gives advice on how better to understand ‘Planet Asperger’. This book helps parents to respond positively to the challenge of AS and find the ‘treasure’ in their child’s way of being.
L6279 in Cerebra Library 

Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: a user guide to adolescence by Luke Jackson
2002 ISBN 9781843100980

Drawing from his own experiences and gaining information from his teenage brother and sisters, Luke Jackson wrote this enlightening, honest and witty book in an attempt to address difficult topics such as bullying, friendships, when and how to tell others about AS, school problems, dating and relationships, and morality.
L6291 in Cerebra Library

Borrowing something from the library is free, please email to request a book or for more information about the library service.

Cerebra Week 2015 a huge success!

Sir E. Bear posed in front of our information tent

Sir E. Bear posed in front of our information tent

Every year Cerebra holds Cerebra Week in Carmarthen town centre. Over the week we pitch our information tent at Carmarthen’s Merlin’s Walk area and have a great time chatting with the town’s people and collecting money in order to fund the charity’s services.

We made sure that we kept things fun this year by having a number of activities on hand to entertain Carmarthen’s children (and big kids!). One of our most popular activities was our “find the bear” game which saw eager detectives searching for Cerebra bears in shop windows. We also held a daily draw with the prize being family tickets to different local activity each day. Over the course of the week, we gave away tickets to Folly Farm, Xcel Bowl, Laser Station, Anna’s Welsh Zoo, Tenby’s Dinosaur Park and the Gwili Steam Railway. Thank you to all of these attractions for donating tickets.

This year we introduced “Ask the Expert” which saw members of our Parent Support team joining us to answer parent’s questions. Questions ranged from issues to do with sleep to finding out a little bit more about our services and the scheme seemed to go down well with parents.

All in all the week was a huge success. We managed to raise an incredible £1,578.55 thanks to the generosity of the people of Carmarthen, as well as raising awareness of Cerebra.

We have put together a gallery of some of the best pictures from the week:

Summer Raffle 2015 – winning tickets drawn

Ryan draws the winning tickets

Ryan draws the winning tickets

On 31st July we drew the lucky winning tickets in our 2015 Summer Raffle draw.

The draw was made by a very special guest – four year old Ryan Hooper, who has Down’s Syndrome. Ryan and his family (mum and dad Vanessa and Simon Hooper and brothers Aiden, Dylan and Taran) recently enjoyed a well earned break at the charity’s holiday home in Pembrokeshire.

Many families with children who have special needs find it incredibly difficult to find a place to go on holiday that caters for their needs. Cerebra’s holiday home, Vallecchia, gives families an opportunity to enjoy a break without some of the difficulties they might experience on a standard holiday. There is a ramped entrance to allow wheelchair access and a large bedroom with en-suite facilities on the ground floor. It also has a multi-sensory room and a soft play area with tactile sensory toys. There is a large garden and a games room in the detached double garage, with table tennis, table football and a pool table.

Ryan’s mum Vanessa said “The holiday was amazing. It was a chance for all of us to spend time together as a family and to get away from the hassle of everyday life. There was plenty of space for all of us and it provided everything we needed. That time together was priceless”.

The Hooper family with Sir E Bear

The Hooper family with Sir E Bear

Ryan loved helping us out with the draw – and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Cerebra mascot Sir E Bear! Our thanks to the family for helping us out.

The raffle draw is an easy way to support the charity, with the chance of winning a great prize. Tickets for Cerebra’s Christmas Raffle will be on sale soon. To get your tickets please contact us on 01267 244221 or email