Communication is an integral part of how we understand and relate to one another. Everyone talks and behaves in unique ways, with many of us having personal verbal or body language quirks that are part of what make us, us!
The subtleties of these different methods of communicating can make understanding others confusing, especially for people autism.
Educating yourself on how a person with autism might communicate is one of the most helpful ways to reduce confusion for everyone. It’s important to note that no two people with autism will communicate in the same way; there are, however, some general things to consider.
By having a good general knowledge of autism and communication, you open the door to more effective communication between all, rediscovering the joy of good conversation whether it’s with a family member, friend, work colleague or stranger!
We hope this will prove a useful resource for those endeavouring to improve their understanding of autism and the role of communication.
Understanding Autism and Communication
When considering how to improve the way you communicate, it can be helpful to first appreciate how communication might be more difficult for people with autism.
Historically, wider society has perpetuated assumptions that people with autism struggle with social skills, are shy or unfriendly, or cannot feel or express emotions.
These assumed traits are unfair, untrue and should be dismissed as ignorance.
Instead, someone with autism may be unable to find the right words to start a conversation, they may not understand body language and social cues, and they may deal with emotion internally rather than expressing it outwards.
Some people with autism cannot quickly adapt to conversations or respond to words in the same way neurotypical people might. This is not because they cannot communicate ‘correctly’; they may simply communicate in their own way.
Because the autism spectrum is vastly different for each person, there is always variety in the way people with autism will behave and talk. People with autism are not deliberately being strange or unsociable but are seeking the best ways to express themselves.
The Benefits of Improving Your Communication Skills
Learning how to best converse with people who may not communicate in a way you’re familiar with can help you appreciate how people experience the world differently.
When improving your communication skills, you’ll also learn how to better express yourself and your own ideas in various ways.
You’ll also, of course, be able to connect with more people, build relationships and help cultivate a more understanding environment, making discussions an enjoyable and productive experience for everyone.
How Do People With Autism Communicate?
As mentioned, there is no one size fits all – people with autism are not a homogeneous group. That being said, many individuals might use some of the following communication techniques.
- Non-verbal communication – pointing, gesturing, physically moving someone to the thing they need, writing words.
- Sounds and crying – due to not understanding, feeling frustrated or being unable to use the right words.
- Echolalia – the term given to repeating phrases and words they have heard in the past, hoping these phrases ‘fit’ the current situation.
- Picking out keywords or phrases – then focusing on the literal meanings and responding accordingly to those words only.
For a person with autism, focusing on the literal meaning of specific words creates a reply that makes sense to them, but it may seem out of place in the conversation to a neurotypical person.
Analysing words and not tones is why a person with autism might have trouble understanding sarcasm, metaphors, and humorous language.
While talking to someone, an individual with autism might also:
- Change topics quickly – it can be difficult for some people to stay on topic as they deal with incoming stimuli. It may seem like they are avoiding something or are unfocused, yet it is usually the other way around, as the mind moves quickly to deal with each input.
- Make no eye contact – people with autism can talk with you but may struggle to talk to you, often not making eye contact. Again, this is not an unfriendly action.
Eye Contact and Communication for People With Autism
Avoiding eye contact may help someone with autism talk clearly as it takes away all the stimuli that come with looking into someone’s eyes, which can often cause an overload of information. Some people may prefer to speak with their eyes shut, to focus purely on the words of the conversation.
You should never force people with autism to make eye contact with you during a conversation as, for many individuals, this might cause undue stress and discomfort.
How to Talk to a Person With Autism
By looking at how people with autism may communicate, we can see that their understanding of conversations relies heavily on language and words (or lack of words) and not the use of other people’s facial expressions, body language or subtle infections.
Below, we provide some common tips to use when speaking to someone who may have difficulty communicating.
Speak With Clarity
One of the best things you can do is speak with clear and concise words, saying simple and plain sentences that cannot have more than one meaning.
Be direct and avoid using figures of speech as non-literal language can be confusing. Slang, nuance, or sarcasm can cause confusion and double-meaning.
Avoid Terms of Endearment
Like sarcasm or slang, terms of endearment, including things like ‘honey’, ‘love’ or ‘mate’, can cause confusion and should be avoided.
The speaker may mean nothing by these terms or use them offhandedly, but a person with autism may take them literally or find them uncomfortable.
Address the Individual By Name
Say the person’s name at the beginning of a conversation, question or important statement.
This ensures they are paying attention instead of blocking out background noise. If you don’t know their name, take a moment to ask and find out (which is also just polite and helps make a connection).
Make Gentle Eye Contact If Possible
This encourages non-verbal communication and helps people with autism develop their skills in understanding facial expressions and emotion.
Again, don’t try to force this, as it can make talking even more difficult for some.
Avoid Open-Ended Questions
Something like ‘did you have a good day?’ is an open-ended question that many neurotypical people will answer without hesitation. However, questions with so many possible answers and interpretations can be challenging for people with autism to answer.
Questions that are necessary and require a specific answer are much better. It can also help to offer options or choices to help guide but not control the conversation.
Talk About What They Want to Discuss
This is especially true for children.
Trying to force the conversation in a certain direction is not a successful approach. Instead, talk about what they are doing and let them lead the subject.
Another trait of autism includes obsessive tendencies, which might lead to them talking a lot about one particular thing. Sticking to the topic they want to discuss keeps the conversation going and helps them develop their communication skills.
Avoid Overloading Information
People with autism can struggle to filter out less important information, which can lead to them being overloaded, meaning they struggle to process new information.
If it seems like they’re being overloaded, or are anxious, begin to slow your pace or halt the conversation. If something must be said, use minimal words and avoid questions. This break allows the individual to catch up and deal with stimuli.
If it seems like a conversation is becoming distressing, it can also be helpful to remove visual communications. While eye contact and movements are usually a good thing, during an overload, they can become unwanted stimulus.
You should also be aware of the surrounding environment – could background noise be causing overload? Are too many people talking at once? Finding a quiet place reduces sensory input and will help avoid overload.
If it’s necessary to wait for a response to a question, then give them time. If someone does not respond straight away, it could be that they need more time to absorb and process the information.
Expect the Unexpected
We know that people with autism may use gestures, sounds and echolalia to process and respond to specific words. Someone may use all or a few of these communication methods.
If an individual does or says something unexpected or changes the subject, do not be alarmed or try to fight it. It’s important to listen and work out what they’re trying to say. Keep being patient, go with the flow of the conversation and allow the individual to communicate in their way.
Try Written or Visual Communication
If verbal communication is less effective, try writing or getting visual. Someone who struggles to talk may be happy to restart the conversation on paper, using written words or pictures.
Sensory or receptive toys may also help some people feel more comfortable when in a situation where they have to talk or get their point across.
How to Communicate With Adults With Autism
Most of the tips above will apply to conversing with people with autism of all ages. However, one of the most important things to do when talking with an adult with autism is to address and converse with them as you would any other adult, and not as a child.
A person with autism may understand every word said but then may have difficulty responding verbally. It is therefore important not to assume the person has limited skills or abilities.
You should also never speak as if the person is not in the room when in a group setting. By modelling appropriate behaviour, you also help show others in the group how they can best communicate with others.
How Do Children With Autism Communicate?
Children with autism may have different mannerisms as they are still developing and learning to react to the world around them.
These may include:
- Using made-up words (known as neologisms) instead of words they don’t know or when they are unsure how to express themselves.
- Using the same words over and over.
- Muddling up words and pronouns, for example, referring to themselves as ‘you’ and other people as ‘I’.
These are often a child’s attempts to make some communication happen, but an adult may not understand. This may lead to tantrums, aggression or self-harming behaviour because they are misunderstood, confused or frightened.
How to Communicate With Children With Autism
Language is often simplified for all children but is especially important for children with autism as they are still learning about metaphors, double meanings and sarcasm.
When speaking to a child with autism, you should be very conscious of doing the following to support their communication skills.
- Using short sentences and blunt instructions.
- Using sounds like ‘yuck’ and physical actions.
- Combining verbal communication alongside visual cards or tablets with pictures.
- Speaking with an exaggerated tone of voice to make a point and highlight important words.
- Talking with gaps in sentences for them to fill in and finish.
- Using prompts and questions to encourage responses.
- Speaking with patience and giving time to respond.
- Attempting communication at the right moments when they are not engaged with something else and are calm.
Autism-Friendly Holidays at Calvert Trust Exmoor
As everyone is different, we understand that these points can only be used as a general guide – one of the best ways to improve communication with people with autism is to build a rapport and connection with the individual.
This is something we keep in mind here at Calvert Trust Exmoor when organising our accessible holidays in Devon.
Our breaks are designed to support those with a range of abilities, providing specialised activities and autism-friendly accommodation, facilities and adventures.
When on one of our autism-friendly holidays, our trained instructors will create a tailored experience, guiding guests through a variety of exciting activities. We ensure that guests will have the same instructor throughout their stay, helping guests with autism build a stronger bond with them.
Our accessible breaks cater to both adults and children, ensuring that everyone enjoys the activities and is encouraged to reach their full potential!
To find out more about the autism-friendly Calvert Experience, you can read our guest stories, where you’ll find numerous examples of how various people with autism have enjoyed their time with us.
For more information about booking an autism-friendly holiday, please get in touch.
Please join us in congratulating Keith, who has completed the SUP Great Glen Challenge, a 92km paddle race across Scotland. In doing so he’s also on track to raise £2,000 for Calvert Trust Exmoor!
Before the event, Keith wrote: “I’ll be (fundraising) as part of the Great Glen Challange, the most intimidating of the SUP events that make up the UK Paddle Endurance Series. The race starts in Fort William and follows the Caledonian Canal all the way to Inverness on the other side of Scotland, crossing Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness, all 34km of it, along the way.
I’m raising money for the Calvert Trust, which enables people with disabilities to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities that would otherwise prove impossible….and makes a huge difference to the lives of over 20,000 people every year. Having grown up in Somerset, I have chosen to raise money specifically for the Calvert Trust’s Exmoor Centre.”
And added he’s hoping to “complete the race in around 18 hours or so.”
Keith went on to beat his predicted time and completed the challenge despite some rough weather and waves on Loch Ness. Not bad for someone who only started paddleboarding in January!
At the time of posting this news, Keith has raised a wonderful £1,755 for us and is hoping to hit the £2,000 mark.
If you would like to donate to Keith and help him reach this total, please give what you can by visiting his fundraising page.
Our thanks to Keith for choosing to fundraise on our behalf! Every pound he generates will go towards our Birthday Appeal.
Here are some images of Keith taking part in the Great Glen Challenge…
What to Expect on a Weekend Break at Calvert Trust Exmoor
There’s nothing quite as exciting as venturing out into the great outdoors; however, for some, certain rural areas can be more inaccessible. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we hold accessibility close to our hearts and do our very best to provide facilities that cater to everyone, allowing individuals of all abilities access to all that nature has to offer.
If you’ve recently booked with us or are looking for activity holidays for disabled adults in the UK, you might be curious about what to expect from a weekend away at Calvert Trust Exmoor.
In this article, we explore the various activities, facilities and accommodation you will find while staying with us!
Accessibility on Your Residential Trip
To start with, when looking for a residential weekend break that is tailored to those with reduced mobility or reduced hearing or vision, it’s important to be completely assured that the accommodation, facilities and activities will be inclusive and meet everyone’s needs.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our specialist equipment will enable everyone’s involvement in our activities. We include hoist facilities within our water-based activities, climbing supports and adaptive equipment for activities such as archery.
Our accommodation will also provide essential ensuites, accessible level-entry washrooms, and accessible bathrooms. When wandering throughout our buildings, you’ll find widened corridors and doors, electric doors and elevators to ensure that you can move from one area to another with ease.
We also include Menvicall alarms that are connected to the reception during the day and the duty instructor during the evening.
Our facilities have been accredited by the Visit England National Accessible Scheme, demonstrating our vast range of adaptive equipment to ensure your comfort.
Accommodation at Calvert Trust Exmoor
Our accommodation revolves around our beautiful courtyard that each of our ground floor rooms will open onto. As well as our ensuite single, twin and triple rooms, we also provide apartments for smaller groups looking for a more inclusive setting.
Each day you will be provided with three delicious hot meals that can easily be tailored to meet your dietary requirements.
After a fun-packed day in the outdoors, you can relax using our pool, jacuzzi or sensory room during the evening. Alternatively, you can simply sit back and enjoy the view from our Acland room veranda.
Accessible Activities for All Ages
Now for the exciting part! Our activities are all delivered by Calvert Trust Exmoor’s specially trained instructors. We strongly believe that it’s what you can do that counts; this mentality ensures that all of our activities are dedicated to delivering accessible activities for all of our guests to experience.
Each break at Calvert Trust Exmoor is designed around a structured program of activities to give everyone a taste of what we’ve got to offer. Our instructors will stay with you throughout your time with us, allowing them to get to know each individual and their abilities, helping everyone get the most out of their stay.
The onsite activities include:
- Challenge Course
- Crate Stack
- Giant Swing
We’ve adapted all our activities to ensure that we can always provide an adventure no matter the weather. However, if you are keen to venture out into the rain, we provide standard and adaptive waterproofs too!
If you’re looking to experience more of the Devonian landscape, we can help build a discovery and exploration session into your programme; this will be specially tailored to your trip according to your requirements. Our discovery and exploration sessions can include:
- Visiting local towns
- Visiting nearby beaches
- Taking trips to local attractions such as Exmoor Zoo
Facilities at Calvert Trust Exmoor
While staying at Calvert Trust Exmoor, you’ll have access to a great range of facilities. Due to the nature of our values, we have to ensure that our specialist facilities are accessible so that all of our guests can enjoy what we have to offer.
While staying with us, you will be able to enjoy our:
- Swimming pool
- Barn bar
- Games room
- TV lounge
- Wheelchair charging room
- Sensory room
Staff at Calvert Trust Exmoor
As a company, we are dedicated to promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children, young people, vulnerable adults and our guests; this commitment is shared by all staff and volunteers who work with us.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, our core values revolve around:
Combined, these create the foundation of what we believe to be the core for creating a space in which our visitors can have a comfortable stay and an exciting and inclusive experience. For this to be a reality, we need to ensure our members of staff also radiate these values and beliefs.
Each member of our staff is devoted to making a difference in people’s lives; we all take pride in what we do and conscientiously work to ensure that everyone who stays with us gets the most out of their time here and has the chance to reach their potential.
Throughout Calvert Trust Exmoor, the majority of our team are permanent, making them dedicated and experienced in their roles. Our members of staff are committed to developing their service to help mentor and encourage guests.
For more information about Calvert Trust Exmoor, please refer to our website, or browse through our blog, where you will find a diverse range of information and advice, including Calvert Trust Exmoor at Home: Bushcraft Activities or Financial Support Services for People with Disabilities.
If you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to stay with us first-hand, take a look at our guest stories. You’ll find a range of personal experiences, including Lizzie’s journey to become a para-triathlete after staying with us and a story from Grace, a support worker for a young woman called Beth with severe learning disabilities.
North Devon Crematorium Donates £10,000 to Calvert Trust Exmoor
A heartfelt thank you to North Devon Crematorium for their donation of £10,000, generated through a national metal recycling scheme.
It was an honour to meet Councillor Helen Walker, Chair of North Devon Crematorium Joint Committee, and Mark Drummond the Crematorium manager for a tour and a cheque presentation.
– Rene and Alison of Calvert Trust Exmoor next to Councillor Helen Walker and Mark Drummond the Crematorium manager
The £10,000 donation was presented to us from the proceeds of the crematorium’s recycling scheme, which enables metals from cremated remains to be safely recycled. The metal recycling scheme is run by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) and is only carried out with the consent of the bereaved.
Chair of North Devon Crematorium Joint Committee, Councillor Helen Walker, says: “We are delighted to be able to present this year’s donation to the Calvert Trust Exmoor, which enhances the lives of people with disabilities and their families. Like other charities, the Calvert Trust has been hit hard by Covid-19 and we are happy that the metal recycling scheme has enabled us to contribute to their recovery.”
Income Generation and Communications Manager, Hannah Furber says: “The very generous donation from the North Devon Crematorium has gone towards our Birthday Appeal total. Every pound helps provide our guests with a wonderful break, from buying accessible activity equipment, to feeding the horses, to maintaining the centre. Our biggest thanks go to the ICCM Metals Recycling Scheme and the crematorium for their support.”
Calvert Trust Exmoor at Home: Bushcraft Activities
Outdoor activities are globally recognised for their ability to help us build on our social skills and strengthen our capacity to solve day-to-day problems.
Adventure enriches people’s lives and releases endorphins, no matter their ability. However, that’s not to say you need to do extreme adventure sports to reap the rewards of these endorphins. Local activities, even ones enjoyed at home, can be just as rewarding and beneficial as those deep in the wilderness.
What is Bushcraft?
Bushcraft includes an assortment of survival skills. When practised and learnt, bushcraft enables you to survive in the wild and make the most of your surroundings. If this interests you or you know someone who would benefit from taking a hands-on approach to the great outdoors, take a look at our activity holidays for disabled people, which are catered to both children and adults.
As part of the Calvert Experience, we provide a great range of outdoor activities. Among these inclusive activities, we offer bushcraft sessions; bushcraft activities can enrich your outdoor experiences, broaden your horizons and, ultimately, are a lot of fun! Once learnt, you can hone your newly acquired knowledge to embrace new challenges on your next adventures.
Bushcraft is not only useful when trying to navigate tricky situations, but it also helps you to develop your interpersonal skills, form connections and make new friends. So, while learning valuable skills and getting a better understanding of nature, you can also enjoy a sense of community through shared experiences together.
Bushcraft at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we recognise the difficulty that some people with disabilities may encounter when accessing the countryside and spaces in the natural world. To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, we have developed an accessible woodland area that allows everyone to get involved.
Our range of activities covers a broad spectrum of needs and learning practices that include cognitive skill development and sensory experiences, meaning everyone gains something from our outdoor sessions.
Calvert Trust Exmoor Bushcrafts Include:
- Fire lighting
- Woodland craft
- Cooking over an open fire
- Shelter building
For more information on the importance of bushcraft, take a look at our article on the benefits of introducing bushcraft activities to disabled children.
Bushcraft Ideas and Activities to Try at Home
There’s a great range of bushcraft activities you can enjoy at home, whether you want to experience them with the family or a group of friends.
It should be noted that there are some activities we highly recommend having an experienced instructor around for. That being said, here are some of our favourite bushcraft activities that you could safely do at home!
Foraging is a great way to get out and about with friends and family. It can also be a wheelchair accessible activity.
Essentially, foraging is the act of exploring woodlands, hedgerows and any other natural areas to seek wild foods. Before venturing out, make sure you have access to an array of reliable resources when identifying plants so that you and your group can practice foraging safely.
Foraging allows you to enjoy the great outdoors while still staying local to your home – you’d be surprised by what you can find right on your doorstep!
Even if you don’t come across any edible plants, there is a lot to learn about what kinds of things grow around you and what’s available in each season. With this activity, there are so many opportunities to build stronger connections to the natural world.
There are also plenty of ways to cater this activity to particular locations and those taking part. You could plan a leisurely meander along some country roads and pick blackberries in early autumn, or adventure through some woodland in the spring and harvest wild garlic from a sea of green!
If you live in a city, there’s no need to feel like you’re missing out! There are still plenty of plants to enjoy; even in more urban areas, you can often find Rowen or Hawthorn trees from which you can collect berries to create some delicious homemade jam!
If eating edible plants doesn’t interest you, then that’s fine too! You can always turn a foraging adventure into a game of bingo and identify local flora without picking or touching any plants.
Building shelters is a great group activity that can create relationships and establish a sense of teamwork.
As a team, you can work together to make the most creative den you can, complete with all your essential needs, whether that’s a toilet, lounge or gaming room! There is no need to limit the imagination when it comes to creating a shelter; you can be as serious or silly as you like!
But make sure to keep an eye out for anyone carrying anything too big. It’s always best to ensure that the weight is shared among others and everyone’s aware of their surroundings when walking around with long sticks. It’s also worth noting that it’s not always safe to enter the den, so always try to check its sturdiness before anyone makes themselves at home.
Once you’ve created your wilderness retreat, feel free to sit back and enjoy a picnic or share stories of adventure and survival!
If you can’t get to a woodland area to build your shelter, why not set up camp in your garden? Just use whatever materials you have and get creative!
Tracking is a wonderful way to gain an understanding of the animals that live among us, hidden in the surrounding landscape. Grow your knowledge with your friends and family as you learn all about your neighbours!
Make sure to use all your senses as you listen out for calls and other noises that echo through the air!
You can follow footprints, tufts of fur and feathers, and many other clues that they may have left behind!
A lot of us rely on apps such as Google Maps to get us from one place to another, but when you don’t have any signal, it can be quite stressful working out which way you need to go. Returning to the basics is a great way to activate your mind and create a sense of independence.
There are a range of activities you can use to help you and your group navigate from one area to another. Try starting from using a compass and getting a grasp of the basics so you can progress through to the more challenging methods. You can even add in a few games to mix things up and have fun with the activity.
Navigation is a great tool that can be used throughout every season, with lots of scope to create themed trails such as an easter egg hunt.
To make sure the activity is accessible to everyone, plan out a route that offers a terrain friendly to wheelchair users and considers the group’s abilities.
Story Telling Over a Campfire
Campfires can make for the perfect evening, especially when in good company! Sit under the stars and toast some marshmallows as you share stories and enjoy some delicious hot chocolate.
Campfires can be incredibly educational, as they provide a comforting and exciting environment that allows for a natural learning environment. The science and method behind creating a campfire is not only fun but is also incredibly informative!
If you start to get a bit peckish, break out your favourite campfire recipes and create some delicious concoctions over the fire to share a family-style meal together!
It’s worth noting that there are some hazards involved with campfires, so it’s important to highlight these and make sure everyone understands the importance of keeping a safe distance while still enjoying the activity.
Why are Outdoor Skills Important?
There’s no denying that outdoor skills are important; they will provide you with the essential information you need to know when enjoying the wild, and they are guaranteed to leave you with a strong sense of empowerment and independence.
Outdoor activities, such as bushcraft, allow you to tackle the world in a way that is unavailable in our urban environments. When embarking on this journey, you will be met with new challenges that require creative problem solving, determination and humility.
These environments place you on the journey of self-development, where you will learn the importance of:
- Understanding your role as an environmental citizen
- A positive and realistic attitude.
What are the Benefits of Learning Bushcraft?
Bushcraft increases your awareness of the natural world and your connection to it. It allows participants to establish their respect and understanding of the outdoors while also inviting them to experience a wholesome activity and natural environment.
Bushcraft has been proven to increase personal and social skills while also strengthening existing relationships; other benefits include:
- Character building
- Outdoor appreciation
We hope this article has inspired your inner adventurer! For more information about our bushcraft sessions or any of our other accessible activities, contact a member of our team.
Financial Support Services for People with Disabilities
According the research by Scope, the life of a disabled person will, on average, cost an extra £583 a month when compared to those living without a disability. There are numerous costs that welfare alone can’t cover, leaving individuals and families left short.
However, there is support available for those that need it; once you know what you’re entitled to, there are numerous services designed to help those who are struggling to cover the costs of day-to-day life and save money.
According to the government, those with disabilities and long-term illnesses shouldn’t be charged VAT on essential items and the equipment that they rely on. This includes but is not limited to:
- Emergency alarms
- Specialist beds
- Building work for adjustments for handrails and ramps
- Installation costs, repairs and maintenance
To check what’s included, you can refer to the HMRC guide for more information.
It’s worth noting that it’s always best to check if the discount is available for the item before purchasing it. Also be aware that the discount is removed during purchase instead of reclaiming the VAT back afterwards.
Utility Bill Reduction
If you’re disabled or living with a disabled person, you can claim certain discounts on your utility.
If you have a medical condition that requires the use of a significant amount of water and are on benefits, you could potentially be eligible to pay the area’s average metered bill.
The scheme works by using a fitted water metre and capping your bill to the surrounding area’s average. If you use under the average, then you’ll only need to pay for what you’ve used.
To apply, all you need to do is speak to your water supplier and fill out a form. You will need evidence to support your application; this can include your awards notice of benefits and proof of your medical condition.
Warm Home Discount
To help support vulnerable customers who can’t afford their energy bills, this discount includes a credit of £140 on your energy bill, which will be credited between September and March.
To be eligible, you will need to either have a low income, receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or get means-tested benefits like universal credit. There is a limited amount available each year, so the scheme works on a first-come-first-served basis.
Reduced Council Tax
Council tax is calculated on the size of the property. However, being disabled can often require extra space, such as a large washroom or space to allow access for wheelchairs and specialist equipment. Be sure to ask your local council about the Disabled Band Reduction scheme to see if you could be entitled to a reduced council tax bill.
If you have been diagnosed with SMI and are living alone, you won’t need to pay council tax. However, if you live with another adult, you can gain a 25% discount.
Disabled Student Allowance
If your disability affects your studies, you can apply for DSA. To apply, you need to be in either full or part-time education for at least a year. The allowance is intended to help cover the costs incurred from studying with a disability.
You can apply for DSA when applying for other student finance, such as tuition and maintenance fees. If you’re not applying for other loans, you’ll need to download a DSA1 application form, which can be found on the Student Finance website.
Students that are eligible for the NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance won’t be able to also apply for DSA.
A medical condition or physical disability can exempt you from paying the standard prescription charge; for this, you will need a valid medical exemption certificate.
You can collect a form from your doctor; the application process should take around two weeks. Between applying and receiving your medical exemption certificate, you can apply for a refund on your purchased prescriptions. But be sure to ask for an FP57 refund receipt when paying.
Reduced Rates at Libraries
Some libraries will offer lower rates for bookings and borrowings for disabled people. You will usually find free or cheaper audio-visual material available for disabled people. Sadly, this is not a service that is required, so not all libraries will offer it. Get in touch with your local council to find out what particular discounts are available.
Some local authorities offer a free delivery service for disabled and housebound people, which is worth finding out more about if you are unable to visit your local library.
Reduced Travel Tariffs
Fortunately, there are discount schemes when it comes to travel, which can help make life that little bit easier.
The Blue Badge allows holders to park their car at reduced rates or park in exclusive areas that offer better mobility and accessibility. Blue Badges also offer other benefits, such as parking on double yellow lines if the car isn’t blocking access or creating an obstruction.
Most public car parks will allow Blue Badge holders to park for free during certain periods. However, this will need to be double-checked.
Those with “hidden” disabilities, such as anxiety or dementia, can now get a Blue Badge. However, the eligibility does vary; you can find further information at GOV.UK.
Disabled bus passes are available to apply for through your local council, or you can apply for discounted bus travel.
Those living in London can apply for a Freedom Pass, which allows free travel across the city, including the use of the tube, busses and rail journeys.
Rail & Coach Travel
Disabled railcards provide a lot of savings, which can quickly add up. Annually, they will cost £20, but you will receive a third off of your travel at any time. When travelling with a carer, they will also receive a third off of their fare.
The National Express Disabled Coachcard is priced at a reduced amount of £12.50, but this may also incur an extra P&P charge of £2.50. Like the railcard, the coach card also offers a third off of your travel fare.
To receive the cards, you will need to prove your eligibility; commonly accepted evidence includes proof of receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or are registered as having a hearing or visual impairment.
We hope this article has proven to be a helpful resource. As proud providers of holidays for people with disabilities, supporting those with disabilities and their families is at the heart of what we do.
For more information about The Calvert Experience, please get in touch with our friendly team.
If you’re looking for disabled accommodation in Devon, you might want to consider us here at Calvert Trust Exmoor. We pride ourselves on our ability to offer all-inclusive activity holidays that encompass a broad range of abilities.
Here at Calvert Trust, our accommodation is centred around a lovely courtyard, which is the perfect place for a leisurely meander or simply sitting back and sharing your experiences from a bustling day filled with adventure.
The layout of our accommodation allows for comfortable accessibility so that all your needs can be met. We provide ensuite rooms, interconnecting doors and ceiling hoists; take a look at our accessibility statement to find out more about what services and facilities we can offer you!
Our accommodation has been accredited for being suitable for a range of guests, including:
- Older and less mobile
- Part-time wheelchair users
- Assisted wheelchair users
- Visually impaired guests
- Hearing-impaired guests
We have a wide range of specialist equipment for our visitors, which can be reserved prior to visiting, including:
- Electric and manual hoist
- Shower chairs
- Overbed pole hoist
- Profiling beds available in the same room
- Bed blocks
- Mattress elevators
- Trembler pads/Deaf guards
- Cot sides
Types of Accommodation at Calvert Trust Exmoor
What else can you expect from the accommodation at our centre? Continue reading to take a look at the different types of accommodation we provide, including our disabled holiday accommodation with electric beds.
Twenty-one of our bedrooms are ensuite; these are available as singles, twin and triple rooms. The rooms feature single and electric beds and an ensuite level entry shower room with toilet facilities.
Ground floor rooms open onto the courtyard. Several rooms feature interconnecting doors and h-track hoists; mobile hoists are available for other rooms if required.
We provide a H-frame hoist in:
- Six of the twin bedrooms
- The three-bed bedroom
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have four apartments comprising a kitchen, lounge area, TV, and either a bathroom or shower room. The apartments can be hired on either a fully or self-catered basis, depending on your preference.
Bray apartment offers a single and twin room, with the added benefit of a pull-down bed. In the apartment, you will also find an accessible kitchen and a wheelchair accessible shower room.
Similar to Bray, Lyn also offers a twin and single room with the added benefit of a pull-down bed. You will also find an accessible kitchen and lounge area, as well as a wheelchair accessible shower room.
Kingsford apartment features two bedrooms; A single bed bedroom and a three-bed bedroom. This apartment also provides a kitchen and lounge area, as well as a bathroom and fire door. Note that this apartment is not wheelchair accessible.
Heddon sleeps seven people and covers both the ground and the first floor. The apartment includes a Stannah stairlift over the stairs.
On the ground floor, there is a single bedroom with a H-frame hoist, a bathroom and a kitchen and lounge area with a pull-down bed.
On the first floor, you will find a four-bed bedroom, a single bed bedroom, and a shower area. Both the bathroom and shower room are wheelchair accessible.
Our Watersmeet Building is a separate entity from the main accommodation. It is located with the Sports Hall, near the indoor riding arena.
In total, Watersmeet can sleep a total of six guests. The building provides two separate bedrooms, one twin bedroom and a four-bed bedroom. Both rooms are on the 1st floor; these are accessed by either the stairs or the available lift. Each room is wheelchair accessible.
Accessible Facilities for Residential Breaks
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we take pride in providing accessible facilities throughout the experience; we aim to make every facility accessible for everyone.
Our specialist facilities are all located on one accessible site. These include:
- Riding stables
- Swimming pool
- The Barn bar
- Games room
- TV Lounge
- Wheelchair charging room
- Sensory room
Calvert Trust Exmoor’s Accessible Activities
Our specialist equipment allows our activities to be accessible to all abilities. We provide hoist facilities in our riding school and on the pontoon for water-based activities. As well as this, we also have specialist climbing supports and adaptive equipment, including our paddle grips and archers bow supports.
Our activity equipment is especially suited to accommodate all abilities. You can spend your mornings and afternoons:
- Cycling around Wistlandpound Reservoir with one of our specially adapted bikes; including handcycles, recumbent bikes, side-by-side tandems and wheelchair front-loaders.
- Horseback riding with the use of our riding school hoist facilities.
- Driving a horse-drawn carriage from your own wheelchair.
- Shooting some archery.
- Whizzing down a zip wire.
- Sailing on the lake.
- Abseiling down our climbing wall with our specially designed equipment that accommodates wheelchairs.
Accessible Holidays for Wheelchair Users at Calvert Trust
Our accommodation is fully accessible for wheelchair users. During your stay at Calvert Trust Exmoor, on request, we can provide you with an ensuite, level-entry wet room facility with grab bars and shower chairs. Throughout the building, we have widened doors and corridors, electric doors and lifts to the upper floors.
In addition to this, we also have a wide range of specialist equipment to make your stay more comfortable and as accessible as possible. Our equipment can be reserved prior to visiting and includes:
- Electric and manual hoists
- Shower chairs
- Overbed pole hoist
- Profiling beds available in the same room
- Bed blocks
- Mattress elevators
Find out more about wheelchair user facilities on site!
Accessible Holidays for People with Autism at Calvert Trust
Calvert Trust’s autism-friendly site is neutrally decorated and surrounds a peaceful courtyard. Our rooms offer ensuites and level-entry wet room facilities.
Our dedicated and specially trained activity instructors will support you through all of your activities and adventures during your stay, enabling them to really get to know each guest and help you to get the most out of your break.
Each activity is based around a structured programme of activities which is set out on the day you arrive.
Find out more about our autism-friendly adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor.
Accessible Holidays for People with Cerebral Palsy at Calvert Trust
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide fully accessible accommodation for those with Cerebral Palsy, offering ensuite, level-entry wet rooms with grab bars and accessible bathrooms are also available.
Throughout the building, we have ensured that we provide widened doors and corridors with electric doors and lifts to support those with reduced mobility. All rooms have been fitted with Menvicall alarms that are linked to the reception during the day and the duty instructor in the evenings.
In addition to this, we have a wide range of specialist equipment for our visitors that can be reserved prior to arrival; these include:
- Electric manual hoists
- Shower chairs
- Overbed pole hoist
- Profiling beds available in the same rooms
- Bed blocks
- Mattress elevators
- Cot sides
Cerebral Palsy Friendly Activities
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer loads of activities that can accommodate people with cerebral palsy. To ensure that all of our activities are inclusive, we have specialist equipment available if required.
Find out more information about our cerebral palsy friendly activities and accommodation at Calvert Trust Exmoor.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our accessible accommodation also welcomes and accommodates:
- Visually impaired guests
- Guests with brain injuries
- Guests with down syndrome
- Guests who have hearing impairments
- Guests with ADHD
- Guests with spinal cord injuries
- Guests with Arthritis
- Guests with GDD
- Guests with intellectual disabilities
- Guests with ALS/MND
- Guests with dementia
To find out more about the Calvert Experience and the exciting opportunities offered by our accessible holidays, you can get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wheelchair-Friendly Trails in North Devon
Devon is blessed with some of the most amazing countrysides in the UK. From rivers and woodlands to seaside walks, there is something for everyone to see and enjoy.
You might imagine climbing over turnstiles and manoeuvring across rocky outcrops when you think of trails in Devon, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many North Devon trails are completely accessible to those with mobility limitations and steps are being taken to try to improve those that aren’t.
Make the most of your accessible holiday in Devon and give one of these stunning trails a visit.
Wistlandpound Reservoir, Exmoor
Not only is Wistlandpound the site for our amazing canoeing activities, but it also offers wheelchair and accessible paths around the reservoir.
With astounding views across the reservoir, this trail promises a beautiful day with plenty of birds and wildlife to see and enjoy.
Image Credit: Philip Halling CC BY-SA 2.0
The Tarka Trail
Named after the famous Otter, Tarka, from Henry Williamson’s novel, this trail is a 180-mile figure of eight that is frequented by walkers and cyclists alike.
A haven for local wildlife, the Tarka Trail offers some of the most beautiful woodland and riverside walks in all of North Devon.
Much of the trail is surfaced for wheels with the only traffic being cyclists. Parking is available along most of the trail but it is worth noting there is no wheelchair access ar either Landcross or Loxdown.
Image Credit: Rod Allday CC BY-SA 2.0
Baggy Point, Croyde
Baggy Point is a headland in North Devon that overlooks one of Devon’s most popular surfing and holiday destinations.
The car park at Baggy Point is owned by the National Trust and offers both disabled parking and a disabled toilet.
The trail itself is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in length and is level to allow visitors of all abilities to enjoy the sweeping cliffside views.
If you’re interested in finding accessible beaches in North Devon, check out our blog.
Image Credit: Row17 CC BY-SA 2.0
If you’re looking for a short and serene walk, then why not check out the trails at Arlington Court. Built in the 1820s, Arlington Court is a stunning neoclassical style country house now turned museum owned by the National Trust.
Arlington Court has over 20-miles worth of trails to walk and explore across the estate, but perhaps the most popular is the lakeside walk. This 2-mile trail runs through wooded pathways alongside the lake and is tramper friendly. Trampers can even be hired from Arlington Court by contacting their reception team.
Image Credit: Roger A Smith CC BY-SA 2.0
Marine Drive to Putsborough
Woolacombe is an award-winning destination for family holidays and draws in tourists from across the country to enjoy its fantastic views and golden sands. It’s also home to some of the best coastline trails in North Devon, including the Tarka Trail from Morthoe to Ilfracombe.
The level trail from Marina Drive to Putsborough is perfect for both wheelchair and tramper users alike. With stunning views from Baggy Point to Morte Point and all the way out to Lundy Island, this 2-mile trail is a must for anyone staying in North Devon.
As facilities go, there is a car park at either end of this trail with accessible toilets as well. Putsborough has a cafe that’s open from April to October and from Marine Drive, you have access to everything that Woolacombe has to offer.
There is so much of Devon for you to see and explore and we hope this list helps you to make the most of your holiday!
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer a range of activities for both children and adults. To find out more about our accessible breaks, get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing email@example.com.
What to Expect: Canoeing at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we pride ourselves in offering a vast range of activities for our guests to enjoy that they might not be able to experience elsewhere. Perhaps one of the most popular of these activities is taking to the water in our specialised canoes.
Not only do we hold the British Canoeing Quality Mark, but we also have exclusive use of the surface of Wistlandpound Reservoir, a beautiful haven just on the edge of Exmoor National Park.
If you’re looking for specialised holidays for people with disabilities, please get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you make some memories.
Accessible Canoeing at Calvert Trust
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as being out on the water, and thanks to our specialist equipment, it’s an experience that everyone can enjoy.
With our selection of hoists and an innovative accessible pontoon that provides easy access for wheelchair users, we’re able to adapt every canoeing experience to the individual. We also have a designated boathouse at the edge of the water where we provide all relevant safety equipment, including buoyancy aids.
In order to make sure everyone is as comfortable as can be, your instructor will get to know everyone in their group and their specific needs. We ensure that everyone has the room they need whether it’s a space, a seat on the wooden beams or perhaps a beanbag depending on the individual’s needs.
Our guests have also been big fans of the endless hot chocolate we provide while out on the water!
Why Choose Canoeing at Calvert Trust
All of the activities we offer come with their own range of benefits, and canoeing is no exception.
Not only does the peace and quiet of the reservoir offer our guests a brilliant opportunity to relax, but canoeing is also a fantastic sensory experience for individuals of all ages and abilities. It can also be an exhilarating and exciting experience where our guests are also able to improve their motor skills and even learn and develop technical skills.
We try and encourage everyone to have a go at paddling to really get their heart racing! If there’s more than one canoe, then groups are also able to race, play games and play catch with balls across the water.
Tips For First Time Canoers
Here are some tips for first-time canoers:
- Go with the flow – It’s not a race. Go at a pace you feel comfortable with and really take in the natural wonder of Wistlandpound all around you.
- You’re in good hands – Our canoes are not your typical individual canoe. They are specifically designed and adapted by fixing two canoes together with metal bars so it’s impossible to capsize them. The instructor will be there the entire time to ensure everyone is safe and having fun.
- It’s okay to be nervous – Taking on a new challenge is always a little scary and that’s okay! Just know that we are there to support you and make sure you enjoy yourself!
If you’re interested in booking an accessible holiday, or you want to know more about the activities we have to offer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
A new jetty on Wistlandpound Reservoir
The jetty on Wistlandpound Reservoir, which we use to launch our canoeing and sailing activities, has had an upgrade.
As our guests will know, Calvert Trust Exmoor is situated beside the 40-acre Wistlandpound Reservoir, over which we have exclusive rights for activities. The jetty provides easy access to the boats, with a hoist to lift guests in and out if needed.
In preparation for reopening again this summer, one essential job was to replace the jetty. Our previous jetty has been in service for many years and has had numerous repairs.
Last winter, however, the extreme weather took its toll, and it was beyond repair and had to be replaced. So it was out with the old and in with a new.
The work was made possible thanks to two foundations that provided the funding for the project: The Hedley Foundation and the Boshier-Hinton Foundation. A big thank you to them both for supporting Calvert Trust Exmoor.
An additional thank you goes out to CES Engineering Services for building and installing the jetty.
We do sailing during the summer and canoeing throughout the year, all included in our accessible breaks. These are just two of the wonderful activities we offer alongside accommodation and meals. For more information, explore our website or call 01598 763221.