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Excellence programs

MOVE program

Mobility Opportunities Via Education/Experience (MOVE) helps children and adults with severe disabilities acquire more abilities (and independence) to sit, stand, walk and transition.  The MOVE program originated in the USA and was developed by Linda Bidabe for therapists and teachers, and other staff to work together every day

Mudgeeraba Special School adopted this program in 2009/2010. MOVE is an activity based curriculum designed to teach students basic, functional motor skills needed for adult life in home and community environments.

This is achieved through instruction and adaptive equipment.

With these increased abilities, there is:

  1. better health

  2. less burden for care providers to move or lift people

  3. increased dignity

  4. new opportunities for fuller participation and inclusion in family life, school and community.

Life is no longer relegated to a bean bag, floor mat, wheelchair or bed. 


Intensive interaction

Intensive interaction is the name given to an approach to developing the ability and desire to communicate and participate in social interactions.

Intensive interaction was developed during the 1980s by teachers working in schools in long-stay hospitals in southern England. The development of the approach came about partly as a result of practitioners questing for effective teaching approaches and partly as a reaction to and move away from the dominance of behavioural psychology in the field. A psychologist, the late Geraint Ephraim, working at Leavesden Mental Hospital, propounded the original formulation of techniques known then as ‘Augmented Mothering’. The detailed development work carried out at the Hospital school resulted in the first research projects and publications by Melanie Nind and Dave Hewett.

The approach was developed and is primarily used with people who experience profound intellectual disabilities, or who might be described as:

  • having a high dependency on the interpretation of others to make themselves understood

  • a level of awareness of their own intentions which is low, or difficult to determine

  • a level of comprehension which is low or difficult to determine.

The aims of Intensive interaction include the student:

  • developing cognitive abilities including social cause and effect

  • seeking to predict and explore the behaviour of others

  • engaging in sociability, including the desire and ability to be with others, taking part in and initiating social contact and understanding the ways in which social encounters can be enjoyable also include the student:

    • developing fundamental communication abilities including eye contact, facial expression,turn taking and engagement.

The key features of the approach include:

  • the creation of mutual pleasure and interactive games, being together with the purpose of enjoying each other

  • the skilled partner adjusting her/his interpersonal behaviours, i.e. gaze, voice, language use, body posture, facial expression in order to become engaging

  • interactions flowing in time with pauses, repetitions, and the skilled partner blending their responses to the mood and preferences of the learner

  • the use of intentionality – the willingness to credit the learner with intentions, i.e. responding to behaviours as if they were requests or indicators

  • contingent responding, i.e. following the learner’s lead and handing over control of the activity [Nind & Hewett 1994].


The name Snoezelen originated from 2 Dutch words “Snifflen” to smell, and “Doozelen” to sleep or doze.

The Snoelezen room concept originated in the 1970s for the purpose of providing relaxation and leisure activities for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. The aim is to provide a range of sensory- based activities for the users to enjoy and experience the world around them, be they passive or active (Hirstwood & Gray, 1995).

Whilst other activities, therapies and teaching can continue, Snoezelen offers an additional opportunity for the student to relax, explore, and express themselves in an open atmosphere of trust and pleasure (Boyle, 1990).

Our senses tell us about the world in which we exist. Our sense of smell, taste,touch, sight and sound provide the foundation for our understanding and actions. It is only when one or a number of these senses are impaired that parts of the world are less accessible and understanding is diminished. Multi sensory environments support interaction, discovery and communication encouraging stimulation of the senses vital for those with some sensory impairment and for children at the very beginning of their learning and development.

The Snoezelen room aims to provide an environment for relaxation through gentle stimulation. It offers the opportunity for stimulation of the following senses: touch, sight, movement, smell and hearing.

In the Snoezelen room students can enjoy and focus on the targeted senses, through teacher directed activities or student initiated exploration. It provides opportunities for students to access and stimulate the senses in ways not possible in a classroom setting.

Having a Snoezelen room:

  • enables us to have either group focus or individual focus in our sensory lessons

  • provides a safe environment for student led experiences

  • gives all children opportunities to enjoy both passive and interactive sensory experiences

  • is a place where students can move freely, explore and have fun

  • is an environment where we can release the pressure to perform or achieve

  • can be a room that student’s easily identify as a safe place to be

  • provides a valuable recreational facility for our students compatible with their age, sensory status, physical ability, and cognitive function

  • enables them to make choices and explore their immediate environment which may be difficult in other settings

  • promotes positive communication between students and staff

  • It is an established environment where equipment stimulates auditory, visual and tactile response from our students, necessary for functioning in everyday

  • life. (It is very time consuming trying to assemble equipment, create space and find resources within our classroom environment).

  • It allows for opportunities to withdraw distressed, unhappy, restless children into an environment that is soothing, private and safe where they can rest, relax and recuperate.

  • As professionals, it allows us an opportunity to increase our knowledge of advances in technology in the area of disabilities and impairments. 


Communication is the verbal and non verbal expressive and receptive skills used to access information, needs/wants, engage in social commenting and be an active self advocate in choice making. At MSSS our positive behaviour support systems recognise and integrate the belief that all behaviours are communicative, communication is a focus for all students across all age groups. Communication crosses all areas of the curriculum and is essential in the journey towards independence and participation. We believe that communication is not taught in isolation but facilitated across many settings in many modes; functional communication requires adaptation and resilience. Consultation and partnerships with families/guardians as well as other stakeholders is pivotal to student success. Above all we believe that each student has the right to access communication that is specific to their needs and effective across the many settings in which the student participates.

At Mudgeeraba Special School we believe all students:

  • have the capacity and the right to communicate and to be literate

  • have the right to be exposed to repeated opportunities to communicate – whether it be spoken, written, augmented, and to develop their literacy skills

  • should be provided with appropriate resources to support the development of their communication and literacy skills.

The school community believes communication:

  • underpins all areas of curriculum, daily living, behaviour and sense of self

  • attempts must be valued and extended

  • partners must be aware of each student’s information, must provide support, develop skills, and be aware of each student’s individual communication method and system

  • should be advocated for, in its many different forms, within the school community and with those unaware of the communicative needs of our students.

Our community believes successful communication exchanges lead to communication success. Therefore, the child’s team consisting of parents, therapists, teachers, teacher aides, nurses, volunteers, and administration staff must be passionately committed to the literacy and communication success of every student. “Literacy is at the heart of a student’s ability to learn and succeed in school and beyond” (Literacy the Key to Learning. Framework for Action 2006-2008). “To be literate in the 21st century one must have the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with texts of traditional and new communication technologies via spoken language, print, and multimedia, and the ability to use these practices in various social contexts.” (literacy definition, DET, Literate Futures 2002).

Mudgeeraba Special School is currently participating in a learning innovation project on communication.

Active learning

The active learning/Fiela curriculum devised by Dr Lilli Nielsen is implemented in the curriculum for some of the students at our school. Through the active learning program, students with disabilities are given the opportunity to learn from active exploration and examination. The philosophy of active learning is that student learning occurs through play and experimentation. Through the use of already achieved motor, cognitive and emotional abilities, educational environments are designed for each student with a disability to provide opportunities to utilise these skills. These environments arouse the student’s interest and curiosity to encourage further development and learning through activities.