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April 2021  |  Issue 32
Supporting staff and students to achieve their full potential
(Est. 1968) |

Dear CENMAC Community,

The CENMAC team have been delighted to visit students and schools again this half term and we thank the staff accommodating us.  

This month our newsletter highlights resources around Autism and some of those new and innovative uses of technology. Every SEN TES Show we are introduced to something new and the Tiimo daily planner app for watches was one of those. Read below how Claire and Euan use this app to help manage his day at secondary school.  

We wish everyone a very happy Easter break and look forward to seeing even more students over the summer term.  

Link to Blog:

Kathryn Stowell
Head of CENMAC
World Autism Awareness Week
29 March - 4 April 2021

Download a virtual background for Autism Awareness Week 2021: 

World Autism Awareness Week

ASD Learners and returning to school

The week commencing the 29 March is World Autism Awareness Week, and it seems like a good opportunity to focus on what our ASD learners face as they return to school. Autistic learners will need support to navigate schools that look different to the places they remember. Environments will have been rearranged, one-way systems may be in place, staff and peer groups may have changed and it will take time for us all to settle into our new routines.  

Assistive technology companies have been hard at work creating symbolised resources to support learners with discussing Coronavirus: 

There are visual and accessible resources for Clicker 8 on Crick’s Learning Grids to support activities addressing the impact of the pandemic, feelings and ways we can stay safe and healthy. 

Here are some ideas for technology that may support establishing new routines and boundaries.  

Accessible support for daily routines. 

Accessible support for daily routines, with a few additional features with timers and the ability to add video. 


At CENMAC, we understand that AAC devices and peripherals may transmit viruses. However, we know how important the devices are to their users – but there are common sense precautions that we can put in place to protect our users.   

We always make sure that we disinfect devices before they are sent out. Apple have released guidance on disinfecting iPads which would be applicable to most devices. AssisitiveWare have published some helpful guidance on sensible precautions when using AAC devices. 

a watch

Tiimo The Visual Daily Planner

To mark World Autism Awareness Week 2021, we have asked Claire and her son Euan to give us their thoughts on how a visual planner supports Euan to keep focused during his school day.

Euan aged 12, says:

“Tiimo helps me by being a timetable on my wrist, which is easy to use by anyone.”

“The app helps me keep track of what I am doing in the day.”

“I would recommend it to anyone who needs a timetable.”   

Claire said:

Euan has been using the Tiimo app on his phone which links to his smartwatch via Bluetooth since he started at secondary school. Euan has ASD and ADD diagnoses. Organisation skills, time keeping and forward planning are challenging for him, and we were concerned how he was going to cope with all these things he needs to remember at secondary school. We wanted to find something to make this easier for him and the Tiimo app is just what we needed; he uses it every day at school.

               It is easy to set up an activity, using the website, or the app on your phone.

We have set the timetable on the app with the activities he needs to do before leaving for school e.g., remember his lunch bag, and be reminded when he needs to leave home to get to school on time. He has his lessons and class locations reminders as well as a reminder to have a drink at break-time.


If Euan needs to remember to do something at school, we add a task reminder for that day, e.g., if he needs to collect a forgotten homework sheet, we can set a task which will appear on Euan’s watch at the chosen time and Euan can tick it off on his watch when he has completed the task. The Tiimo app has been really positive and has reduced Euan’s anxiety at school.

It is easy to set up an activity, using the website, or the app on your phone. Each activity can appear as just the word/s, or you can add an image from the app, or easily upload an image from the internet which will be saved on the app for future use, you can also change the background colour for activities.

The Visual Daily Planner | Tiimo (

Virtual Reality and Autism

Virtual reality headsets are being used more and more with people with autism, researchers are studying virtual reality’s potential as a treatment tool for autism more than ever before. New studies suggest that VR could be used for everything from assisting autistic children to overcome phobias and preparing for real-world situations such as developing interview skills within a safe ‘virtual’ environment. 

Natalie Catren, a contributor to the U.K.’s Independent, cautions, 'it’s vitally important that VR technology is not seen as a device with which to “cure” autistic individuals.' Researchers, therapists, doctors, teachers, and parents should view VR therapies and training as a way to help autistic people achieve their own goals and live more fulfilling lives—not to fix something that’s broken. 

There are applications which The National Autistic Society ( have developed of first-person videos that simulate sensory overload. Especially when viewed through a VR headset, these videos help neurotypical people experience the anxiety and panic caused by sensory overload and understand how coping mechanisms like healthy stimming can help. 

We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of VR’s potential for helping people with ASD. As more programs and training are developed, and as more extensive studies are performed, we’re likely to see VR therapies appear more and more in schools, doctor and clinician offices and private homes. And if current results are any indication, everyone — both neurotypical and not — will benefit. 

Text (c) How Virtual Reality is Helping People with Autism – | AR & VR Education Technology 

Illustration of two women at a screen

Teaching Assistant Award | March 2021

In our work supporting students with assistive technology, we meet some amazing teaching assistants who we would like to acknowledge. The extra work and the skills of these individuals have a huge impact on their students' learning.


Congratulations to Chloe Hudson
April 2021 Teaching Assistant Award

Chloe Hudson, Charlton Park Academy

Chloe works really hard to ensure the needs of all students are met in her class. She is highly adaptable and supports students with a range of needs, for example those with complex medical needs, communication difficulties, visual, hearing and mobility impairments. She also supports those who struggle with their behaviour.  She supports students to use a range of tools to help their communication and learning such as Clicker, Proloqo2Go, Grid, and Connect12. Chloe is always positive and makes learning fun. Students really enjoy working with her and have made great progress with the support and teaching she has given them. 

From Chloe:  

“I really enjoy working with the students and seeing them achieve and make progress. I like building up relationships with each of them and using my knowledge of them individually to help them learn. I enjoy working at Charlton Park Academy.” 


New CENMAC staff

Hello, I’m Daniel Wilkinson. Starting as a technical assistant at CENMAC has been a very new experience for me, as this is my first job, but I have already felt welcome within the team. I have always had an interest in computers and having had no prior experience with the technology being used here, it is extremely cool to have the chance to see and work with it. I am looking forward to helping and working with everyone. 

Blue graphic with text cenmac online training


May - June 2021

Our next training courses: 

Online Clicker 8: Wednesday 12 May  |  Eventbrite Link

DocsPlus Online Training Wednesday 9 June  |  Eventbrite Link

Online Clicker 8 Training Wednesday  16 June  |  Eventbrite Link

Online Clicker Writer Training 30 June |  Eventbrite Link

Staff Recommendations

Text (c) TEDTalk | The video below was produced by TEDMED.

Rosie King 
How Autism Freed Me To Be Myself

'People are so afraid of variety that they try to fit everything into a tiny little box with a specific label,' says 16-year-old Rosie King, who is bold, brash and autistic. She wants to know: Why is everyone so worried about being normal? She sounds a clarion call for every kid, parent, teacher and person to celebrate uniqueness. It’s a soaring testament to the potential of human diversity.'

TED's editors featured it among our daily selections on the home page.

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