We meet Linda and Andy, founders of Samboards*, who have created fabulous little pieces of tactile material that are making a big difference.
How did you come up with the idea of creating Samboards?
The idea began when I was working in a Special Resources Provision with teenagers who are on the autism spectrum. In some cases, they had come into secondary school with identified sensory needs in others their autism and ADHD had prevented them going through the early years sensory toy experience.
I wanted to create sensory products that self-conscious teenagers could use right through to adults at work. I was also aware of the use of texture in learning information and improving memory surrounding the information. We started with a board to support learning the alphabet and now have products waiting to be made for use in other areas. The more I explored the sense of touch the more applications in everyday life I found. I have become a “geek” on texture and touch, it fascinates me and I learn a little more each week.
Who would benefit from using them and who do you find are using samboards?
Initially Samboard Library Squares were made for the Secondary School sensory needs market. Once they had been made testing began and it was then that we found tactile people really enjoyed them. Adults were using them as stress relief, staying focused during meetings or phone calls, distraction and general fiddling around.
The advantage of them being silent and non-moving gives you the feeling of movement while being sat still, great if you are a fidgeter. They can be used to help you through the difficult bits of your life or to change your mindset. There are no set groups who could use them. If you like the feeling of the textures your brain releases feel good hormones and anything that is healthy and makes you feel a little better can only be a good thing.
How do you know which Samboard is best for you – i.e. points, rock or unicorn?
The “tactile sensors” on your skin reduce as you age or through lack of use, both in your skin and the area of the brain they are measured in. By introducing a different texture to your sense of touch you can reawaken some of your tactile sensors and increase brain traffic to the tactile area. Some people find the sharpness of the points can stimulate and re-focus them as well as help them feel emotionally in control.
Other people prefer the smoother surface of the rock or the more challenging and intricate surface of the unicorn. Each Samboard has a sharp point near the keyring for those moments you need a quick re-set action. Some people use different textures in different moods or just stick to their favourite. It is best to try all three and see how you like to use them.
What else have you manufactured that has been helping people?
The Samboard Library is the first of our products to be produced. We are about to produce our SATPIN boards in larger numbers. S,A,T,P,I,N are the most popular first letters of the alphabet to learn. Our boards are very robust, interesting and fun.
There are different features and conversations that can be used with a Satpin board and they are food safe and can go in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. We have tried to make them as versatile as possible to avoid being a one-use item.
To find out more and order your Samboards to www.samboards.co.uk
*SAM stands for Sensory, Activity and Motorskills.
About Linda and the Samboards team:
As a little girl I thought everyone’s Mum had a disability. So from an early age I have been making people’s lives easier by adapting situations, tools or the way information is presented, to suit individuals needs. My Degree in Education, taken in my forties gave me the knowledge and the confidence to produce quality, researched and affordable products that work in so many different situations in several ways.
During my work with teenagers with Autism, I noticed that sensory needs may not be being met and that they are an important part of a happier life. Self conscious teenagers didn’t want to engage with bright coloured sensory toys. We know babies need to be touched and have different textures to explore and learn from. And then it just stops and we continue on with our busy lives. So Samboards aims to put textures back into our hands and give people a little bit of happiness using our products.
I met Andy who is, at his very core, a man who solves problems and cares about people. Andy has also spent his life involved in manufacturing and running a business, skills I just didn’t have in the beginning so we complement each other’s areas of expertise.
So between the two of us Samboards was created. We have also received valuable support from The Gloucestershire Research and Innovation Programme (GRIP) team and the continuing assistance from the Start and Grow Team. The involvement and guidance has been incredible and has guided us from an idea, to running a business. Please click on the link to read more .https://www.glos.ac.uk/business-and-partnerships/Documents/grip-case-studies.pdf