Author Archives: Leigh Mulvihill

Get a good night’s sleep with help from our library

Join our librarian Jan (and teddy) as she talks through the different books and sensory equipment we have in our library that could help your child to sleep.

Books on sleep

  • L1676 – Treating Sleep Disorders: principle and practice of behaviour sleep medicine by M L Perlis
  • L6107 – The New Baby and Toddler Sleep Programme by John Pearce
  • L6315 & L6531 – Solving Children’s Sleep Problems: a step by step guide for parents by Lyn Quine
  • L6324 – Teach Your Child to Sleep: solving sleep problems from newborn through childhood by Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic
  • L6325 – Sleep Disturbances in Children and Adolescents with Disorders of Development: its significance and management by Gregory Stores
  • L6367 – A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems by Jodi A Mindell
  • L6392 – Sleep Difficulties and the Autism Spectrum Disorder by Kenneth Aitken
  • L6605 & L6606 – Sleep Better: a guide to improving sleep for children with special needs by Mark Durrant
  • L6694 – The Gentle Sleep Book: a guide for calm babies toddlers and pre-schoolers by Sarah Ockwell- Smith
  • L6730 – Sleep? What’s That? The incidence and impact of sleep problems in families of disabled children by Gillian Cowdell
  • L6740 – Why We Sleep? The new science of sleep and dreams by Matthew Walker

Relaxing sensory toys

Fibre optics

The most widely accessible of all the sensory equipment. Consists of a light box and 100 two metre fibre optic strands. Features LED lights and plastic ‘sparkle’ effect strands with an automatic colour change cycle. Safe to
handle for children of all ages. Ideal for holding the child’s attention and good for those with sensory avoidance.

Mood egg

New in the library, this robust plastic egg is 42cm high and can be used indoors or outdoors. It is operated using a remote control. You can choose individual colours or a colour changing cycle. It comes with a recharging
station, each charge of 6 hours provides 8 hours of light

NB includes a flashing mode not suitable for those with photosensitive epilepsy.

Relaxation Sensory Kit

Contains all you need to create a calming environment. Includes weighted dolphin neck wrap, microwave heatable animal, aromatherapy diffuser with lavender oil, kid’s relaxation CDs, sand timer and other calming
tactile items.

Sensory in a Suitcase

Our most popular item. The suitcase contains a wealth of sensory equipment to relax and stimulate. Can be used for therapy, education and play activities. Contents include: fibre optic lights; UV torch and UV reactive items; Space Projector; aromatherapy diffuser and oils; mood pod projector with coloured lights;
natural sounds CDs and a variety of sound and tactile items. Most, but not all, also have a pin spot lamp and mirror ball.

To borrow any of these books or sensory toys contact Jan on janetp@cerebra.org.uk or 01267 244203.

How much have you learned about sleep?

Take our true or false quiz to find out.

Question #1: A cup of a tea and some chocolate biscuits are a good bedtime snack

False. Both tea and chocolate contain caffeine, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Question #2: We all wake up multiple times during the night

True. As part of our natural sleep cycles we all wake partially multiple times throughout the night but most of us fall straight back to sleep and have little memory of waking the next day.

Question #3: Hide and seek is a great game to include in your child’s bedtime routine

False. You should include quiet, calming activities in your child's bedtime routine. Things like colouring, play-doh or puzzles are good options.

Question #4: A visual chart can help support a bedtime routine

True. Many children are visual learners so a picture schedule can help them process the information.

Question #5: You should avoid playing music at bedtime

False. If your child finds music relaxing it's fine to play music at bedtime. We'd recommend that it's either kept on - quietly - all night or your child knows how to turn it on themselves if they wake up in the night and need the music to get back to sleep.

Question #6: Using phones and tablets close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep

True. Phones and tablets (and TVs) give out blue light which prohibits our natural melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.

Question #7: It’s best if you’re in the room when your child falls asleep

False. If your child falls asleep with you in the room they'll find it harder to go back to sleep if they wake in the night and you're not there. This is called a sleep association. Our new sleep tips booklet has more information on this and lots of other tips and techniques.

Question #8: A teddy can be used as a substitute for a parent

True. A blanket, teddy or item of your clothing can be used as a comforting object to substitute you when your child is falling asleep or if they wake up in the night. There's more information on this and other techniques in our new sleep tips booklet.

Question #9: It’s okay to let your child into your bed if they wake up early on weekends as long as they stay in bed on weekdays

False. This is called intermittent reinforcement and it's actually the most powerful type of reinforcement there is. Letting your child get into bed with you sometimes and not others can encourage your child to 'try their luck' most or every night. Consistency is key - whatever you feel is manageable.

Question #10: Avoid bright light in the morning

False. Bright light exposure (using something like a SAD lamp or a daylight bulb) in the morning can set our 24 hour sleep/wake cycle, helping with problems settling at night and waking up in the morning.

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Summer reading

Summer reading

Are you looking for ways to entertain the children this summer? Did you know that you can borrow children’s books from our postal lending library? Check out some of the fab books we have available to borrow for free.

Age 5 – 8

The Five of Us by Quentin Blake

Angie, Ollie, Simon, Mario and Eric are five fantastic friends, each of whom has an unusual ability. Disaster strikes on a day out to the countryside but, working together and combining their individual powers the Fantastic Five save the day.

Avery by Marta Altes

Avery is like other birds most of the time, but sometimes, feels a bit different. But Avery is not alone.

Eagle Eyes by Jeanne Gehret

Like a river overflowing its banks, Ben wreaks havoc until he learns to recognise and control his ADHD. By the end of the book, Ben’s family wonders how they could have gotten along without his special way of seeing the world.

Age 8 -12

Of Mice and Aliens by Kathy Hoopman

When Ben and Andy discover an alien has crash landed in the backyard they’re faced with a problem. They want to help Zeke repair his ship, but why does he ask for such strange things? Can they trust him? This is a book of mystery and fun with Ben learning to cope with his newly diagnosed Asperger Syndrome and Zeke trying to cope with life on Earth, things are not always what they seem.

Monkey by Veronica Bennett

Harry Pritchard may be bullied at school and bored at home, but he’s not exactly thrilled when his mother volunteers him to visit a severely disabled patient of hers. She says it’ll do Harry good. But how can it end the bullying? Of get him a part in the drama club play? Or win the attentions of Louise Harding, the girl of his dreams? Well, Harry is in for some big surprises!

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Shawn has severe cerebral palsy. No control over his muscles, no means of communication, no hope of improvement. Yet humour, joy and love sit alongside frustration in Shawn’s mind. His internal life is full of unseen pleasures, but his father perceives only the devastation of an uninhabited body. And Shawn suspects that as his father’s sorrow builds, so does his desire to act…

Age 13 plus

Haze by Kathy Hoopman

Seb is a loner. Brilliant with numbers but hopeless with people, he prefers the company of computers and his only friend Guzzle. Thing change for the better when he makes friends with Kristie, Madeline and Jen, and a new computer teacher, Miss Adonia arrives. However, Seb is soon caught up in a web of computer fraud and lies and turns to Madeline’s mysterious cyber friend for help.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Twelve year old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “no toys in the fish tank”. But the summer Catherine meets Kristi, the potential next-door friend she’s always wished for, her own behaviour turns everything upside down and forces her to ask “what is normal?”

Trueman Bradley – Aspie Detective by Alexi Maxim Russell

Trueman leaves his hometown of Heartville, Illinois and arrives in New York City where he is soon told that a guy with AS could not possibly succeed as a detective. However, it’s not long before Trueman’s crime-fighting skills are put to the test when he is robbed on this first day in New York and he sets about using his exceptional mathematical abilities to invent a crime-fighting equation.

e-books with BorrowBox

  • ‘I am Not Joey Pigza’ and ‘The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza’ by Jack Gantos
  • ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon

e-audiobooks with BorrowBox

  • ‘Rent a Bridesmaid’ and ‘Clover Moon’ by Jacqueline Wilson
  • ‘Who Killed Darius Drake’ and ‘Freak the Mighty’ by Rodman Philbrick
  • ‘Peter Rabbit’ by Beatrix Potter

If you would like to become a Cerebra Library member or a Cerebra BorrowBox member to borrow books, e-books or e-audiobooks for your child to read or listen to, please contact Jan the librarian at janetp@cerebra.org.uk for more information.

Handy tips for summer holiday sleep

tips for sleeping during the summer holidays

During the summer holidays the change in routine and light, warmer nights can often make sleep difficult. It can be even harder for children who don’t sleep well anyway. Our sleep team give their top tips for getting a good night’s sleep this summer.

  • Keep the bedroom as dark as possible at bedtime. Well-fitted blackout blinds can be useful. This allows our natural melatonin to be produced.
  • In hot weather, during the day keep windows shut and curtains closed to keep rooms cooler. Open the window in the evening if you like, when there may be a little breeze.
  • Look at using cooling pads/cooling pillows if their room is very warm.
  • Avoid caffeine (e.g. Coffee, some fizzy drinks, chocolate etc) in the 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Try and keep bed and wake times consistent, eating at similar times also helps with our internal body clock.
  • Avoid exercise in the hours before bed – this raises our body temperature, which can make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Using visual resources can help with changes to routine (visual timetables, social stories, checklists etc).
  • Use a fan to help keep bedrooms cool – the white noise it produces can also be quite calming.
  • Spend an hour before bed engaging in calming/relaxing activities (if you are away take some with you).
  • If bedtime during holidays is significantly later than during school, spend the last week of the holidays slowly bringing this earlier by 15 minutes a night. This is much easier on our body clock than a big change in one night.
  • Run cold water over wrists and feet before bed to help keep cool, or have a bath before bed as this helps to cool the body. Try to avoid very cold showers as these can be stimulating.
  • Play calming music/white noise at bedtime and throughout the night to drown out the noise of others playing outside.

We hope these tips have helped but if you need more personal support our team would be happy to help. Visit our sleep pages for more information.

Our innovation team design the Boccia ramp of the future

Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald, Paralympic champion David Smith and Welsh champion Richard Bachelor with our new boccia rampThe CIC team have been working hard to create a high tech Boccia Ramp. Boccia is a ball sport, similar to bowls, for people with severe physical disabilities.

The guys were challenged by a young man in Bristol who wanted to have more independence in the game. They took up the challenge and have created a ramp that will enable almost anyone to play, no matter the severity of their condition! Almost any ability to move any part of your body will allow you to play Boccia with a lot more independence due to the unique electronics and controlling devices the team have made.

Boccia players in the BC3 category ordinarily require an assistant to place the ball on the ramp at the required height, aim the ramp left and right according their directions and then they can launch the ball into play using a head pointer. Well now, the assistant merely has to pop the ball on the ramp, and using the super high tech controlling devices, the player can raise and lower the ball, aim left and right and shoot the ball.

Whilst not being fully integrated with the rules and regulations just yet, the team are working with the amazing Paralympic Champion, World Champion, and joint most successful UK player ever, David Smith MBE, to perfect the design and technology to ensure that the Boccia ramp of the future is a smashing hit!

Here are the design team’s Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald with David Smith and Richard Bachelor (Welsh Champion) who kindly gave up some of their training session to help us.

Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald, Paralympic champion David Smith and Welsh champion Richard Bachelor with our new boccia ramp

Do you have a project for the team at CIC? If so, get in touch on cic@cerebra.org.uk or 01792 783688.

Borrow fiction from our BorrowBox library

BorrowBox is great new service we offer that means you can now borrow ebooks and audiobooks from us. You can read or listen to books using the BorrowBox app on your smartphone or tablet or from your computer on their website. Last month we featured some non-fiction books available to borrow from our BorrowBox library. This month we’re featuring two of the fiction books you can borrow from us.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Winner of:

  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize 2003
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best Book Award and Best First Book Award 2004
  • Whitbread Book of the Year Award 2003
  • Whitbread Novel Award 2003

“Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the colour yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbour’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally”

Borrow it as an ebook

The Wreck-It RaceThe Wreck-It Race by Sir Chris Hoy

Audiobook read by Sir Chris Hoy

“A new coach is needed – but what can a wheelchair basketball champion teach Fergus and friends about cycling?

Fergus is sure their new coach is going to be his ultimate hero, cycle champ ‘Spokes’ Sullivan, so when Grandpa introduces Charlotte Campbell, the children are all less than impressed. Charlie is the successful captain of the Paralympic wheelchair basketball team and has some interesting training methods. She gets the team doing yoga and wheelbarrow races, and enters them in the Wreck-It Run, a charity race where everyone creates their own adapted bikes from parts and must compete in pairs. Fergus is sure Charlie is off her rocker – how will this help them get faster for the International time trials?”

Borrow it as an audiobook

Find out more about BorrowBox on our library pages or email our librarian Jan at janetp@cerebra.org.uk.

BorrowBox is here!

We are so pleased to offer a new service in our library.  You can now borrow ebooks and audiobooks from us with BorrowBox. You can read or listen to books using the BorrowBox app on your smartphone or tablet or from your computer on their website.

Here are a couple of the books you can borrow.

The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz

The Out-of-Sync Child is very popular book in our library and now you can borrow it as an audiobook.

From the Trade Paperback edition:

“Does your child exhibit over-responsivity–or under-responsivity–to touch or movement? A child with SPD may be a “sensory avoider,” withdrawing from touch, refusing to wear certain clothing, avoiding active games–or he may be a “sensory disregarder,” needing a jump start to get moving.

Over-responsivity–or under-responsivity–to sounds, sights taste, or smell? She may cover her ears or eyes, be a picky eater, or seem oblivious to sensory cues. Cravings for sensation? The “sensory craver” never gets enough of certain sensations, e.g., messy play, spicy food, noisy action, and perpetual movement. Poor sensory discrimination? She may not sense the difference between objects or experiences–unaware of what she’s holding unless she looks, and unable to sense when she’s falling or how to catch herself.

Unusually high or low activity level? The child may be constantly on the go–wearing out everyone around him–or move slowly and tire easily, showing little interest in the world. Problems with posture or motor coordination? He may slouch, move awkwardly, seem careless or accident-prone.

These are often the first clues to Sensory Processing Disorder–a common but frequently misdiagnosed problem in which the central nervous system misinterprets messages from the senses. The Out-of-Sync Child offers comprehensive, clear information for parents and professionals–and a drug-free treatment approach for children.”

Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress, and Helping Children Thrive by Mark Bertin

From the Trade Paperback edition:

“Written by a pediatrician and based in proven-effective mindfulness techniques, this book will help you and your child with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) keep calm, flexible, and in control.

If you are a parent of a child with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you probably face many unique daily challenges. Kids with ADHD are often inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive, since ADHD affects all of self-management and self-regulation. As a result, you might become chronically frustrated or stressed out, which makes caring for ADHD that much harder. In this book, a developmental pediatrician presents a proven-effective program for helping both you and your child with ADHD stay cool and collected while remaining flexible, resilient, and mindful.

Bertin addresses the various symptoms of ADHD using non-technical language and a user-friendly format. In addition, he offers guidelines to help you assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses, create plans for building skills and managing specific challenges, lower stress levels for both yourself and your child, communicate effectively, and cultivate balance and harmony at home and at school.

If you are a parent, caregiver, or mental health professional, this book provides a valuable guide.”


Full details of how BorrowBox works and how to sign up are on our BorrowBox page. You can also view the full library of ebooks and audiobooks here.

New Books on Autism in the Library

library books

We have had a lot of requests to borrow books explaining autism recently, so we have purchased some brand new ones.

  • L6732 – A Parents’ ABC of the Autism Spectrum by Stephen Heydt published 2017
  • L6741 & L6742 – Talking with Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis: a guide for parents by Raelene Dundon published 2018
  • L6743 – Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Autism Explained by Frederick Earlstein published 2017
  • L6745 & L6746 – Understanding Autism: the essential guide for parents by Katrina Williams published 2018
  • L6747 – The Parents’ Practical Guide to Resilience for Children aged 2-10 on the Autism Spectrum by Jeanette Purkis published 2018
  • C0275 – Creating Autism Champions: autism awareness training for Key Stage 1 and 2 by Joy Beaney published 2017 – includes photocopiable material and downloadable resources
  • C0290 – The ASD and Me Picture Book – a visual guide to understanding challenges and strengths for children on the autism spectrum by Joel Shaul published 2017 – includes photocopiable worksheets

If you would like to know more about our postal lending library please email Jan the Librarian on janetp@cerebra.org.uk or visit our library page.

Sensory toys for young children in our library

We have recently added a selection of toys suitable for the under 3s to our postal lending library.

Nursery Toy Kits

We now have three sets of nursery kits suitable for children aged 3-12 months, 12-24 months or 24-36 months. Each kit contains a range of colourful, stimulating toys for the under 3s for exploration, play and early education.

3 – 12 months

12 – 24 months

24 – 36 months

They may include battery operated items.

Bamba First Comforts – the first word in baby signing at home

We also have a new item in the Sensory Toy Library, a ‘Bamba First Comforts’ baby signing kit, kindly donated to us from a shop in Carmarthen, ‘Croeso Cynnes’.

The kit comes with a book, a dvd and a box of toys to teach the concepts of communication through play.

If you are interested in borrowing any of these items or have any queries about our library please email the Librarian at janetp@cerebra.org.uk

Full details about our library service can be found on the library page of our website https://www.cerebra.org.uk/help-and-information/library/

New look library lists

Take a look at our great new Library Lists. We’ve made some changes to make them more user friendly. We hope these changes will help you find the things you are interested in. The Library Book List and the Children’s Book List are ready now on our library page.

We have added more subject areas so you don’t have to look through long lists of book titles. Popular topics like sensory processing disorder and growing up now have their own sections. The Children’s Books List now have the books listed by subject area instead of by age group. So you can now find all the books for children on ‘behaviour’ or ‘feelings’ or ‘for siblings’ together.

If you are already a library member, why not take a look and let us know what you think. If you haven’t joined the library yet, why not take a look to see what we’ve got.

We are in the process of updating our Sensory Toy List which will have new write ups and information about the toys with pictures taken of the sensory toys here at Cerebra HQ. It will be available soon but in the meantime we have a temporary Sensory Toy List which includes all the great new and replacement toys purchased with the money we received from Children in Need.