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Learners with a Multi-Sensory Impairment

Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI)


At Millstead School we have children with a range of sensory impairments, some children have dual sensory impairment; sometimes referred to as deafblind.


A person will be recognised as having a significant dual sensory impairment when the combination of two impairments make it difficult for the person to function either as a deaf/hard of hearing person or blind/partially-sighted person. For these children we follow a personalise curriculum to meet their needs.


At Millstead School we ensure that our children with MSI are familiar with personal identifiers for familiar adults and children to show them who they are working with, these will be:

  • associated ONLY with that person;

  • constantly used and reinforced;

  • offered at every encounter;

  • reassuring for the child;

  • easily identified by the child.


    As far as it possible we ensure that the child has an object cue, also known as objects of reference, this allows the child time to process what they are doing or where they are going by using a familiar and personal object that means something to them. This can be the child’s own swimsuit for swimming, own spoon/fork for mealtimes, own coat for going outdoors etc.


    In addition, we also use tactile cues throughout the school.


Tactile Cue

Hello/we are going to work

Gentle rub from shoulders to hands with both hands at same time.


Press hands downwards towards lap, if the children are physically able to do so place their hands on their laps.

Before moving/pushing

Apply light pressure to each shoulder.


Before lifting and hoisting

Lift both of the child’s hands up.

Eating and drinking

Rub finger above the child’s lip. (Used for both oral and peg feeds).


Gentle press of your hands on the child’s hips.



Any consistent action which the child enjoys, it should be something the child likes.

Often children at Millstead with MSI are also reliant on a wheelchair so when we move children with MSI it is important that we:

  • ensure the child knows we are there;

  • signify when then are about to move or stop;

  • move the child with one hand on their shoulder;

  • make sure the child has chance to process they are about to move;

  • move them with care and courtesy at all times.


    As staff at Millstead School are so passionate and committed to supporting children with MSI we have 7 trained and certified intervenors. These members of staff range from senior leaders, teachers, learning support officers and learning support assistants. Staff completed an intensive 5 day training programme with SENSE.


    SENSE defines the role of the intervenor as:

  • Providing motivation

  • Acting as eyes and ears

  • Providing opportunities for the person to make real choices and decisions

  • Maintaining records

  • Providing positive home/school links

  • Accessing the environment

  • Giving clear information

  • Allowing effective communication

  • Working towards co-dependency level of functioning

  • Being a sighted guide

  • Working alongside other professionals

  • Implementing development programmes

  • Keeping observations and assessing progress


    Any child with MSI has a personalised approach to the curriculum that identifies what is most important to them. This process closely involves the family, other agencies such as SENSE, teacher for VI/HI (where possible), class teacher and support staff. Any provision is regularly reviewed to adapt to the changing needs of the individual.

“Communication is always about partnership and if this is correct it asks us to reconsider what we mean by communication impairment. It can’t really be one person’s problem. If an impairment exists it must lie at the partnership level and right away that makes it at least two people’s problem.”

Paul Hart

‘Quality Communication:

Maximising Opportunities for people with MSI