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Keynote speech 2015 - Day Two

Lives into story

Nicola Grove and Robin Meader

The ability to share stories about what has happened in our everyday lives is one of the most important communication skills that children can develop. Telling and listening to personal experience narratives is the way we build a sense of who we are, make and keep our friends, and participate in our communities. Research suggests that children and adults with severe communication difficulties and their families and teachers find such narratives extremely challenging (Grove, 2007; Waller, 2006). In schools, however, the narrative focus is almost exclusively on fictional and on written stories.

Storysharing® (Grove, 2014) is a therapeutic person-centred technique which was developed to enable active narration by children across the range of ability. Outcomes from a three year programme in a large special school included increased confidence, active listening, empathy, and narrative skill (Grove et al, 2010; Peacey, 2009; Bunning, 2013). Storysharing® complements other approaches to narrative and storytelling in education. Because the intervention is carefully scaffolded, individuals can participate in whatever way and at whatever level is appropriate to them. This workshop will demonstrate ways of constructing and telling stories with nonverbal pupils, and provide opportunities to develop a 'take home' story to use in the SLD classroom.

View the full keynote speech presentation (PDF)


Nicola Grove

Nicola Grove - Nicola has over forty years' experience working with children and adults who have severe learning disabilities, initially specialising in augmentative and alternative communication. She began using poetry and story in special schools in the 1980s, and worked with teachers and speech and language therapists to explore strategies for making literature accessible. She began researching the use of oral storytelling with children and adults with learning disabilities in 2001, and in 2004 set up the first inclusive storytelling course, now an award winning charity ( Publications include The Big Book of Storysharing, Using Storytelling to Support Children and Adults with Special Needs; Odyssey Now; Ways into Literature. She regularly contributes articles to professional journals. She is an honorary senior lecturer at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent.

Robin Meader - Robin is an artist and storyteller who has worked with Openstorytellers for over 10 years. He took part in a cultural leadership programme for artists with disabilities, and regularly speaks and tells stories at conferences and festivals. He is developing his own business as a graphic facilitator to help people understand information and discussions.

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About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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