Cool Kid’s Programme

All Children Need Exercise

Led by therapists with an understanding/qualification in Sensory Integration and delivered regularly and therapeutically, this programme has helped children of all ages from those in Nurseries to Secondary Schools


SENSORY PEOPLE (SP) is a charity – The Board is led by 3 Occupational Therapists and an ex Social Worker for people with a Learning Disability; we all have either  personal experience of treating children with  Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy, or have children/grandchildren who have benefitted from it. Joy High, a member of our Board, wrote the COOL KID’s programme during her time as Head Occupational Therapist for Paediatrics in Wolverhampton.

Established in 2015 SENSORY PEOPLE aims to help children who have sensory issues and are underachievers /struggle to undertake the simple things in life that the majority of us take for granted.

Now with our own premises, we aim to reduce our waiting list for Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy and deliver a high-quality children focused and family friendly service to all who come to us. Some children never need Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy (ASIT) after their Cool Kids sessions

Background and Sensory People’s use of CK

  • In early 2002, Joy High developed CK, a teacher-friendly exercise programme to support underachievers in Walsall/Wolverhampton schools.
  • In 2020, Sports England funded SP’s “Covid safe” programme; we now run sessions in a variety of settings including a children’s nursery, a field, hall  and/or a barn depending on child’s needs/requested location. We had 6 families in 2020, have circa 2 enquiries a week and have 20+ on our programme at any one time.
  • Families are always fully involved in their child’s sessions and take activities home to practice during each week
  • When families approach us, asking for ASIT sessions –we offer them COOL KID’s sessions which enables them to start their sensory integration therapy journey while on our waiting list.


  • Can be used with groups or individual children with learning difficulties and often challenging behaviour(7)
  • Gives children with sensory-based motor challenges an opportunity to catch up on their foundation skills
  • 1: 20 children have sensory processing challenges (Good Schools Guide UK) – University of Cambridge identifies 1.76% of children on Autistic Spectrum
  • Relatively inexpensive programme at circa £20 an hour and frees up OT skills for more complex treatments
  • Teacher /school friendly as long as undertaken regularly otherwise positive outcomes will not be achieved
  • Can be run by those with an understanding of /qualification in child development and an understanding of the principles of sensory integration!

Neuroscience – underpins the Cool Kid’s programme

  • Neuroscience, the interdisciplinary study of the nervous system is still evolving. Research shows early intervention (8) is important for those who are not reaching their developmental milestones:
  • The brain can develop new pathways and networks, which improve cognitive ability and performance in many areas of our lives (9) 
  • talks about the greatest period of neuroplasticity being from birth to 3 years of age with baby’s brain developing millions of new neural connections every day.
  • If a baby/child is having difficulty with a certain skill or something “isn’t quite right,” (5) then COOL KID’s can often help  
  • In CK we often don’t see children until they are in school and, therefore, we are often working with postural and movement challenges – it takes time
  • CK can provide a programme of foundation exercises to counter the lack of movement and play by children during Covid-19 lockdowns (6) as well as the consequences of excessive engagement with screen-based devices.

Outcomes for children include improved:

  • Gross and fine motor skills (5)
  • Ability to modulate their emotions and for many improved communication skills (2)
  • An improvement in their cognitive functions (attention, thinking, language, learning and memory) and physical activity which also has a proven influence on mental health (3).

Assessment is important both before and after the COOL KIDS programme

  • The Cool Kids Manuel (5) has physical assessment activities and a scoring system; plus child, parent and teacher questionnaires
  • The Sensory Processing Measure can be used before and after engagement in  CKs; it gives a standardised parent and teacher reported assessment score
  • Videoing Cool Kids movement/activities (with consent) is a good way to record base-line and be able to accurately review change

Cool Kid’s (CK) is like a lesson plan and:

  1. Leaders (with an understanding of sensory integration and child development) need to train their staff to take a therapeutic/playful approach as much as possible when delivering CK sessions.
  2. Regular sessions and parent engagement are really important to achieving outcomes
  • The programme takes children through stages of development using a sensory integration approach
  • Important that CK coach/ leaders have experience of working with children /had their own children and are supervised by a therapist with an understanding of sensory integration and child development   
  • For some children, progress in CK takes longer than others – parents integrating approaches into daily routine helps a lot
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat activities at the same time as making sessions as playful as possible
  • Each session should start with a warm up, work on a specific area, end with relaxation
  • Music can be useful in session

The Cool Kids programme – contains activities (3,6) that promote:

Body Awareness:

  • Moving on the floor
  • Push/pull games
  • Laterality

Postural Control:

  • Supine / Prone
  • Rolling/sitting

Improved Praxis:

  • Animal walks
  • Obstacle courses
  • Practicing games a child enjoys, again and again

Bilateral actions and activities requiring sequencing and rhythm

  • Two-foot jumping
  • Commando crawling

Modulation and relaxation

  • Heavy work
  • Listening to music

Improved listening and language skills (2)

  • Multi-sensory stimulation (Proprioceptive, vestibular and tactile)
  • Inclusion of movement words such as: Crawl, jump, stay still and spatial words such as under, over, through and between.
  • Support with non-verbal and early language skills such as turn-taking and improved use of volcabulary.

Equipment used costs circa £200 and includes:

  • Quoits, ring & bean bags per child
  • Balls all sizes – ropes – balloons – 2 handed bat – long skipping rope
  • Mats on which to roll
  • Curtain or towel to roll around children
  • Parachute –Tunnels -Hoops
  • Benches – Bat and Ball per child
  • Large cardboard boxes
  • CD and suitable music for clapping game
  • ‘X’ marked on floor


  1. Ayres, J. A., Erwin, P. R., Mailloux, Z., Love Jean,  2004 Crestport Press, CA 95409
  2. Ayres, A. J., Mailloux, Z. 1981. Influence of Sensory Integration Procedures on Language Development. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 35 (6) 383-390
  3. Bidzan, I., Lipowska, M., Physical Activity and Cognitive Functioning of Children: A Systematic Review. The National Institute of Health.
  4. Bundy, A.C., Lane, S., Sensory Integration Theory and Practice. F. A, Davis Co., Philadelphia 2020
  5. High, J., Rhodes, L., Cleary, C., Cool Kids Programme (Unpublished)
  6. Khare, M., et al 2021 Impact of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on movement behaviours of children and adolescents: a systematic review. BMJ Global Health 2021 – 007190
  7. Kreiviniene, B., Vestibular Sensory Dysfunction; Neuroscience and Psychosocial Behaviour Overview. 2016. Social Welfare: Interdisciplinary Approach, 2 (6),184-197

For those interested in training and/or further understanding about sensory integration or sensory processing please contact:

ASI Wise /Sensory Project (Who are linked to Ulster University)                   OR

Sheffield University

Please do your research thoroughly about these courses before you choose your training route.


W host regular/monthly “Parent Information” evenings in Stourbridge, West Midlands – by arrangement we would be prepared to do workshops for schools/parents/others in other locations.

Authors and affiliations

Joy High – BSc OT (Johannesburg) – MPhil University of Coventry, UK – Thesis “The Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Therapy in Children with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder” – Author of Cool Kids (Unpulished)

Marion Rogerson – HCPC registered Occupational Therapist with Post Graduate Certificate in Sensory Integration (Ulster) – Chair of Sensory People 

Donna Blakemore – HCPC registered Speech and Language Therapist – training in Sensory Integration with Collaborative for Leadership in Ayres Sensory Integration (CLASI).

Alison Naylor – Lead Sports Coach for Sensory People -Bsc (Hons) and PGCE

Partnership officers, teachers and pupils who together made the development and evaluation of the Cool Kids Programme possible in 2002, who revised/updated it in 2012, and are using it 2023!

SENSORY PEOPLE is a charity which unfortunately has to charge parents/schools/others for their services – at the same time we work hard to fundraise so we can keep our prices at an “affordable” level.  If you would like to support us in our work please do donate through choosing us as your Co-op Charity of the year. 

You can help us from any Co-op in the UK by registering /searching for and nominating us at the link below.  Thank you in anticipation of your help.

The Trustees of SENSORY PEOPLE

19th November 2023