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 autistic people.
Educating yourself on how an autistic person might communicate is one of the most helpful ways to reduce confusion for everyone. It’s important to note that no two autistic people 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 autistic people.
Historically, wider society has perpetuated assumptions that autistic people 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, an autistic person 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 autistic people 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 autistic people will behave and talk. Autistic people 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 Autistic People Communicate?
As mentioned, there is no one size fits all – autistic people are not a homogeneous group. That being said, many autistic people 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 an autistic person, 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 an autistic person might have trouble understanding sarcasm, metaphors, and humorous language.
While talking to someone, an autistic person might also:
- Change topics quickly – it can be difficult for individuals 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 – autistic people 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 Autistic People
Avoiding eye contact may help an autistic person 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 an autistic person to make eye contact with you during a conversation as, for many individuals, this might cause undue stress and discomfort.
How to Talk to an Autistic Person
By looking at how autistic people 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 an autistic person 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 an autistic person 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 autistic people 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 autistic people 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
An autistic person 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 autistic people 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 Autistic Adults
Most of the tips above will apply to conversing with autistic people of all ages. However, one of the most important things to do when talking with an autistic adult is to address and converse with them as you would any other adult, and not as a child.
An autistic person 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 autistic people.
How Do Autistic Children Communicate?
Autistic children 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 Autistic Children
Language is often simplified for all children but is especially important for autistic children as they are still learning about metaphors, double meanings and sarcasm.
When speaking to autistic children, 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 autistic people 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 autistic guests 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 autistic people have enjoyed their time with us.
For more information about booking an autism-friendly holiday, please get in touch.
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.
Accessible Beaches in North Devon
North Devon has some fantastic beaches that make great must-visit spots all year round. With plenty of ice cream, a refreshing sea breeze and the sun shining down (if you’re lucky), there’s nothing quite like a relaxing meander along the Devon coastline!
Everyone, no matter their abilities, should be able to enjoy the seaside views and coastal activities that North Devon has in abundance. If you’re embarking on an accessible holiday in Devon, why not check out some of the lovely spots that we mention below?
The beach and coastal town of Westward Ho! are famed for being the only place in the UK to have an exclamation point in its name. The name comes from the book by Charles Kingsley, a popular novel from the 19th century that inspired a new wave of tourism to Bideford and the surrounding areas.
Equally as iconic as the name is the pebble ridge – the stretch of pebbles at the top of the beach that acts as a sea natural defence. This ridge makes an impressive visual spectacle but can be challenging to clamber over. For easier access down to the sandy beach below, there is a gentle slipway, giving wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility a more accessible way down.
Dogs are very welcome on the beach, but there may be some restrictions as to which areas you can take your dog during the summer months, so make sure to check the signs on arrival.
There are plenty of beachside cafes and eateries, perfect for when you need a bit of refreshment after you’ve admired the waves and sands. You will also find access to accessible toilets.
The scenery at the Saunton beaches is incredibly diverse, with vast stretches of soft sands, impressive dunes and a collection of rock pools to enjoy. The beach is popular with families, surfers and pretty much anyone who likes to spend their days making the most of the natural world around us!
There is a range of shops, food outlets and toilet facilities with accessibility before you get down to the beach via a concrete ramp. Getting from the ramp onto the beach can be more difficult as there is a small lip that leads onto very soft sand.
To make getting to the beach more accessible, the Saunton Beach shop has three Landeez beach wheelchairs and two NOMAD all-terrain wheelchair carriages available to hire on a half-day, daily or weekly basis.
Saunton is dog-friendly and only asks that you keep dogs on their lead in more heavily crowded areas like around the slipway.
The coastal town of Ilfracombe is full of unique charm, with Tunnels Beaches being one of the main attractions – aside from the 66-foot harbour-side statue of a pregnant woman designed by Damien Hurst!
Because of its stunning seas, gorgeous views and rich history, the beach here is also a popular location for weddings. It is a privately owned and maintained beach, meaning there is a small fee to enter.
Despite the dramatic views, the landscape isn’t too difficult to navigate as the tunnels after which the beach is named are either paved or concrete, and a gentle slope takes you down to the main beach.
Dogs can accompany you in the tunnels but must be kept off the beach. There are accessible toilets near the site.
Another one of North Devon’s quaint seaside towns, Woolacombe is home to three miles of glorious golden sands and lively waves. The spot that lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point is a favourite amongst families and surfers.
The beach holds many awards and is renowned for its natural beauty, cleanliness and great facilities. The beach itself is accessed by two short slopes – you can also hire an all-terrain mobility scooter or beach wheelchair from the Tourist Information Centre.
Dogs are allowed on the beach at certain times of the year and may be restricted as to where they can go. South of Mill Rock is free of restriction for your four-legged friends all year round.
Local amenities include a range of beachside cafes, pubs and shops. There are also accessible toilets available.
Just a little way off Woolacombe, you will find the scenic Croyde Bay. Set between two headlands and framed by the lush green hills of the Devon countryside, Croyde is the perfect spot to soak up spectacular views and fresh sea air.
The shore boasts fine, golden sands backed by rolling dunes. It is another popular spot for surfers and swimmers, with lots of surf schools perfect for beginners – Croyde is rated among the best surfing beaches in the world.
The easiest access to the beach can be found at the north end, where there is a short sloping path suitable for wheelchairs.
Hiring Beach Wheelchairs in North Devon
Even if there are ramps and slopes offering an easy way to get down to a beach, navigating the uneven terrain and softer sands can still present challenges if you’re using a mobility aid – this is where beach wheelchair hire comes in!
Thanks to the Countryside Mobility Scheme, many beaches and other more rural locations around North Devon are equipped to provide wheelchair hire, allowing everyone to access and admire Devon’s beautiful countryside.
To find out more about how to hire manual or electric beach wheelchairs or carriages, check out our blog below:
Many beaches will have official websites for tourists and visitors outlining their local amenities and giving more details about what to expect upon your visit. Before making your way to the beach, it can often be a good idea to get in touch with the relevant tourist information centre.
Have you been to any of these wonderful beach locations yet? Tell us about your experience on our Facebook page, or let us know if we missed your favourite spot!
How to Make the Most of Your Adventure Holiday
Adventure holidays that are packed with activities and fun experiences can feel like a whirlwind. Amidst all the excitement, there are various things you can do to make the most of your break and have the best time possible.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our activity holidays for disabled people provide lots of opportunities to learn new things and create some wonderful memories! We share our top tips for embracing your time spent on an adventure holiday and making the most of all the new experiences.
Before any kind of holiday or adventure away from home, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for everything to come.
Make sure you think about what you’ll need to pack and how much. You’ll need to consider the best kinds of clothes for adventuring and be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you with both waterproofs and suncream.
It can also help to find out what to expect from the activities you’ll be doing and where you’ll be staying. Knowing what to expect before arriving can reduce any nerves, helping to grow feelings of excitement and anticipation instead!
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Going on an adventure is all about getting out of your comfort zone and finding new things you didn’t know you could do or enjoy before.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer a wide range of accessible activities that will probably be totally new to you and our other guests. Having some anxiety before trying something like abseiling or canoeing is normal, but overcoming fears can be a great motivating force, helping to boost your overall experience.
Make Friends and Embrace the Social Aspect
Embarking on an adventure holiday where lots of other guests are also taking part in the activities can be an excellent opportunity for making friends and building up some social confidence.
Try to have fun with the others who are trying out the activities – you’re sharing these unique experiences together, and the friends you make and memories you share can end up being one of the most memorable parts of the holiday!
To make the most of this social aspect of an adventure break, check out our blog below:
Enjoy the Local Scenery!
When on holiday, you are also given the opportunity to enjoy the local scenery and escape to locations different from everyday life. Adventure breaks are great for celebrating the outdoors and taking in all that nature has to offer.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are lucky enough to be situated in a stunning location, surrounded by countryside views on the edge of Exmoor’s National Park – there are plenty of chances to enjoy the local scenery here!
Ultimately, making the most of an activity break comes down to letting yourself be present, having fun and enjoying your adventure!
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 email@example.com.
5 Facts About Exmoor
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by stretches of Exmoor’s stunning landscape. Our accessible site is set amongst beautiful rolling hills, putting you in a prime position to enjoy peaceful views spanning across moorland, water and woods.
As a local charity in Devon, we love to make the most of our surroundings – Exmoor National Park is a renowned area of natural beauty and makes an excellent location for exciting adventure breaks with lots of outdoor activities!
Here, we share some of our favourite Exmoor facts to help you get to know the place a little better.
Exmoor is Home to Unique Plants
Exmoor is teeming with flora and fauna, making it a great place to visit for those that love wildlife and celebrating the natural world. In fact, Exmoor is home to unique plants that don’t grow anywhere else.
These Exmoor-exclusive plants include various species of the whitebeam tree. The National Park is also home to a plethora of various nationally rare plants, including lichens which have only been found on one specific Exmoor tree!
There are Herds of Roaming Ponies
When visiting Exmoor, you’ll see many awe-inspiring sights – if you’re lucky, one of these sights will be a herd of roaming Exmoor ponies!
These native ponies are free to roam the moors, with twenty different herds grazing across various commons. There is nothing more exciting than crossing paths with these lovely creatures during a walk or drive through the moors.
Exmoor Boasts England’s Highest Cliffs
The first thing you think about when considering Exmoor is probably the expansive moorland, but Exmoor is also home to the highest coastline on the British mainland.
The highest cliff named Great Hangman has a spectacular 800ft cliff face looming over the roaring waves below.
As well as having the highest cliffs, Exmoor can also claim one of the most isolated stretches of coastline as the cliff’s extreme heights make the shoreline extremely remote.
Exmoor has Inspired Generations of Writers
Countless writers and poets have been inspired by the stunning views and natural beauty found at Exmoor.
Early Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are among just some of the most notable examples. The origins of their seminal work ‘Lyrical Ballads’, which transformed 18th century English poetry, has often been attributed to their shared love of Exmoor’s coastal walks.
Calvert Trust Exmoor itself has a connection to Wordsworth too as our name ‘Calvert’ comes from his friend Raisley Calvert, who he dedicated a poem to upon his death.
There are Rumours of a Mysterious Exmoor Beast
With such a rugged and isolated landscape, it comes as no surprise that Exmoor has birthed a couple of mysteries. One of the biggest mysteries to come out of the moors is the popular tale of the supposed ‘Beast of Exmoor’.
Eyewitnesses have described seeing a large, black cat-like creature roaming various locations, with the first sighting being reported in the 1970s.
Since then, there have been numerous alleged sightings of the Beast despite no real concrete evidence that big cats are roaming the wilds of Exmoor!
Exmoor has countless wonders just waiting to be explored! Why not get a taste of what it has to offer by visiting us at Calvert Trust Exmoor? Exmoor is the perfect backdrop for our exciting and inclusive adventure activities.
The rest of North Devon is full of some great sights and attractions too – you can discover more in our blog below!
To find out more about our site and the kinds of activities we offer, you can get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing is essential as a carer. It may feel challenging because much of your time is devoted to caring for a loved one. However, it is beneficial for both you and the person you are looking after to treat yourself with appreciation.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide outdoor adventure activities in Devon for people of all ages and abilities. We support and encourage all our guests in a safe environment in trying new experiences. In our blog, we offer our advice on the importance of taking the time to support your mental health.
Being Appreciative and Understanding Of Yourself
Understanding that you are only human is important in accepting that you can only do so much as one individual.
Acknowledge the things you can do to care for your loved one and try to identify areas where you could use some support.
It is also essential to not compare your responsibilities and feelings to other carers in a similar position. They are not you, and each circumstance will be different. Each situation will have its challenges that people outside of it may not know about or understand.
Finding Someone to Talk To
Having a listening ear that you genuinely trust can help significantly if you feel like you are struggling as a carer. The person you share your thoughts with might be another family member, a friend, or you may prefer to discuss your feelings with someone who is not familiar with your circumstances, such as a counsellor.
There is no right or wrong person to speak to, as long as you feel like you can open up to them. Talking through how you feel can help you to work out how to manage any difficult emotions. Sharing how much you do as a carer can also help others understand how they could offer additional support.
Talking might also relieve any feelings of isolation. With the responsibility of care on your shoulders, it can help you to change your perspective. If things feel like they are too much, you should try and speak to someone as soon as possible.
Making Time For Yourself
This can be hard if you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities as a carer, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. If you find that you don’t have sufficient time for yourself, working out how you can should be a priority.
One or two hours a day might help you to maintain your mental health at a healthy level. It can give you time to do something for yourself, such as exercising, socialising, or simply taking a relaxing bath. Small and consistent things to look forward to can be very uplifting as well as motivational.
Prioritising the Basics
Keeping on top of the basics is an essential part of managing your mental wellbeing. Ensuring you are getting the required amount of sleep, a healthy diet and enough exercise can all positively contribute.
Family time is an integral part of anyone’s life, and enjoying an activity holiday altogether can be just what you need. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide accessible holidays for everyone to enjoy and ensure that all our guests are supported in our activities. Why not browse our site to discover more about the holidays we provide or speak to one of our team today for more information calling 01598 763221. You can also email email@example.com
An adventure activity break is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and challenge yourself with attainable goals while surrounded by a supportive and encouraging environment.
If you are apprehensive about new experiences, booking your adventure holiday can feel like the first big step conquered. However, once you arrive at your adventure break, and you are about to try something new, anxiety can find a way to creep up on you once again.
For some, you may feel excited up until the point you are about to do the activity and then suddenly feel consumed by a feeling of nervousness that you haven’t experienced before or weren’t expecting.
How can you manage this sudden feeling, and what should you do if you are about to attempt your activity?
Here at Calvert Trust, we encourage people of all age groups and abilities to strive for their dreams during our accessible Devon activity breaks. We have plenty of experience with coaching guests through feelings of anxiety and want to share our top tips if you get caught out at the last minute!
For more information about anxiety and the signs, take a look at our blog below:
Accept Your Feelings
The first step is to accept the feeling. It may sound relatively simple, but acknowledging the unsettling feeling is constructive to help you manage it. It is important to remember that your feelings are entirely valid, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of them.
When you feel secure enough to continue the activity, it will feel like an even more significant achievement for you to be proud of.
Let Someone Know How You Feel
Next, tell someone you trust how you are genuinely feeling. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, and being honest about your feelings can help you accept them. You might want to tell a family member enjoying your activity break with you, a friend or an activity instructor.
All of our activity instructors are here to support you; they’ll want to know how you feel so they know the best ways to help you during your stay.
Visualise a Positive Experience
If you can, take some time to visualise what you want to do. This will help you build a positive picture in your brain and encourage you to try the activity you may feel apprehensive about.
Try Breathing Exercises
If you feel incredibly overwhelmed, the NHS website recommends trying breathing exercises when you feel onset anxiety.
This will change your focus from the activity at hand and also help you to regulate your breathing. For more advice on breathing exercises to try, take a look at the NHS advice on their website.
Remind Yourself of the Importance of Being Active
A fundamental way to combat anxiety, in general, is to do physical activity. When you don’t feel like doing the activity at hand, this might not feel easy but trying to remind yourself that it will help lift your feelings can help motivate you to give the activity a go.
If your child is attending an activity break and needs extra encouragement before the trip, our advice on how to get your child excited for a residential trip may help!
We ensure each of our guests has a wonderful time during our activity breaks. We also encourage everyone to conquer their fears with the support of our friendly and qualified activity instructors.
If you are interested in finding out more about the adventure breaks we provide, why not contact us today? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to speak to one of our team by calling 01598 763221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
It is undeniable that the past year has been challenging for everybody. While seeing friends and family again is something to look forward to, returning to life after lockdown is a daunting prospect for many.
After a year of self-isolation, closed shops and limited activities, getting back to the new normal of life after lockdown can pose a challenging time for some, especially if confidence has been lost over the past year.
Calvert Trust Exmoor is dedicated to helping those of all ages develop skills, build confidence and gain independence through accessible outdoor activities, exciting workshops and adventure breaks.
As we emerge from lockdown, we hope that these activities can once again help people to rebuild confidence and develop new skills. After an extended time of being encouraged to stay at home, our fun adventure activities offer an exciting way of making the most of outdoor spaces.
Read on to discover why accessible holidays in Devon are ideal for both individuals and families in the time after lockdown ends.
Rebuilding Confidence With Others
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were encouraged to keep our socialisation to a minimum, often limited to interactions with parents and carers. While many of us were able to chat with friends via Zoom, the lack of physical contact with others has had an impact on some.
After a long time without regular interactions with our extended friendship groups or even strangers, the idea of returning to “normality” can bring up feelings of anxiety or concern.
Those who experience social anxiety or have difficulties communicating with others may feel like their confidence has been knocked after this time apart. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our goal is to bring people from all walks of life together and work to not only develop confidence, but to forge lasting friendships!
What better way to reacquaint yourself with others than while working together on exciting challenges?!
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, our unique experiences are fully accessible and can be tailored to suit your specific needs and concerns. Offering accessible accommodation for longer stays, our adventure breaks can help you to rebuild your self-esteem in talking and interacting with others in an environment that is supportive of your needs.
The Benefits of Nature
Calvert Trust Exmoor is based in the countryside near Exmoor National Park. The tranquil environment where our outdoor activities are based is quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The natural environment adds a calming air to our adventure breaks and helps to keep things relaxed and anxieties lowered.
Whether you’ve been self-isolating, shielding or working on the front line, we think every single person deserves a break after 2020! It’s always nice to get a change of scenery, but we are also aware of the challenges that finding an accessible holiday can bring.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer a wide range of activities, both indoor and outdoor, suited to all abilities. Activities such as archery, canoeing, horse riding and bushcraft are led by our skilled and specially trained instructors, who can tailor these adventures to your abilities.
Calvert Trust Exmoor is accredited by the National Access Scheme, deeming it suitable for older and less mobile guests, wheelchair users, visually impaired guests and hearing impaired guests.
Reconnect With Friends and Family
An exciting aspect of life after lockdown will be the freedom to reconnect with friends and family again. There may be some loved ones that you haven’t seen this past year that you can’t wait to visit again!
A group holiday can be a fantastic way to reconnect with your friends or family and enjoy time together as a group. As an accessible activity centre, Calvert Trust Exmoor is able to cater to the requirements of any group – no matter the size or individual needs.
We’re all about having fun together, which means that age and ability don’t matter! We love to see groups with young and old, disabled or non-disabled members enjoying adventures together.
We welcome groups to stay for three, four or seven-night breaks, offering an exciting mix of outdoor activities that can be tailored to your group’s specific needs and wishes. After a busy day of fun, you can continue to enjoy each other’s company in a more relaxing way, by socialising in the communal areas, taking a dip in the swimming pool or spending time in the sensory room together.
Looking to the Future
Calvert Trust Exmoor will be reopening on the 25th of June 2021. If you would like to make a booking to reserve an activity break for once lockdown has been lifted, then please email email@example.com.
If you have any questions about the centre, the activities we offer and queries about specific accessibility needs, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by calling 01598 763221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Encouraging Your Child to Make Friends on an Activity Trip
There are many benefits of visiting an activity centre like ours, such as helping with anxiety or improving mental health. An activity break can also give your child a chance to make new friends, helping to improve their confidence in making friends elsewhere.
Talking to new people can be scary whatever your age, yet for many children connecting with others can be difficult or frightening, especially if they have disabilities. To help, here is our guide to encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip…
Encourage them before travelling
It can often be beneficial to prepare your children for their trip, from helping them pack to talking about the exciting activities and fun games they’ll be doing.
You could also mention that other children will be there too, possibly doing activities in your group or sitting near you during meals.
You could then suggest that your child talks to the other children, or give them a positive goal, like to find out other people’s names.
Some children may be anxious about this idea, some may not understand the point, whilst others will look forward to it. Whatever your child’s reaction, listen to their response and give them gentle encouragement to interact with others.
Doing this before your arrival gives them time to process the information and be more prepared to communicate with others.
Work out some ‘opening lines’ together
It may be a good idea to practice saying hello in various ways, especially if you predict your child will need extra encouragement to make friends. To assist them further, try to create some opening lines or questions your child could use to start a conversation.
Examples could be ‘My name is- what is yours?’ or ‘I like your jumper’ or ‘What did you enjoy about today?‘
Practising and rehearsing social skills in a safe and warm environment will support your child by teaching social cues. Planning out what they could say can make them feel that bit more prepared to meet new people.
Lead by example and encourage them to follow
Once you have arrived for your activity break, strive to speak to others in a friendly manner so that your children can pick up on it and possibly follow your example.
You could even use the opening lines you created to show them how they can progress and add prompts for your children to contribute or carry on the conversation.
By modelling positive, friendly behaviours, you can guide your children to do the same.
Talk to them about feelings and encourage empathy
Parents can help children develop social skills during a short activity break by focusing on feelings and empathy, which will help build friendships.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Developing feelings and empathy is a complex process that starts from birth and continues throughout our lives, but it is a key factor in making friends.
- Identify feelings, both positive and negative – It’s important to put a name to what your child might be feeling whenever you can. Saying something as simple as, ‘You seem happy/excited/joyful/upset/angry/scared‘ helps a child identify what they are feeling in themselves and can be all they to hear to express their emotions
- Identify feelings in others – In the same way, saying ‘That person seems happy/angry‘ helps children see emotions in others and allows them to identify with them. This can be developed further by using them as conversation starters.
Use feelings to start conversations
During an activity break, giving children prompts increases empathy and provides an opportunity to start a conversation, laying the groundwork for friendship.
For example: ‘They seem happy they did the activity, why don’t you say well done and ask them what they enjoyed the most?’ or ‘That child looks upset, perhaps they are scared of doing the activity. What would you say to them?‘
Likewise, questions related to negative feelings could also allow them to start a chat and connect.
If these prompts lead nowhere, that’s fine. It’s best to not force the situation further, instead make suggestions and allow the children to connect in their own way if they wish to.
Notice and praise caring behaviour
Whether with your prompts or not, make a point of praising your child when they show empathy and engage in a caring way.
You could say how proud you are when you see them being kind and thoughtful to others. State why it was positive behaviour and talk about how it might have made the other person feel.
Positive reinforcement will give them belief in themselves and motivate them to do it again, hopefully increasing the bond between children.
Other issues that children often struggle with are sharing and taking turns. Or they may have difficulty being in a team. When they get these things right, however, it will increase their social skills.
Adventure activities can often be a combination of group work and solo participation. So an activity break is a perfect opportunity to practise their sharing skills and general communication with others.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have groups no bigger than 10 people, meaning it’s easy for children to talk to others and participate in group activities.
Highlight when and how they shared correctly or gave help to others. They may not have realised they’ve done something positive, so nice comments on how they behaved will support their future interactions.
Experts recommend providing immediate positive feedback, that’s kept brief and simple.
Encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip – Summary
- Prepare them before the trip so they have time to process the fact other children will be there to talk to
- Practise greeting others and prepare some opening lines
- Lead by example and start conversations, aim to include your child
- Identify positive and negative feelings in other children
- Guide your child to relate to other people’s feelings and to use empathy to prompt them to start a conversation
- When you see your children exhibiting friendly or caring behaviours, such as sharing and taking turns, praise them – this encourages children to repeat the positive behaviours
Finally, parents shouldn’t place social expectations on children and force friendships to emerge from nowhere. They could make one or two good friends during their stay with no need to worry about them being the most popular kid on site.
With over 25 years of adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor, many children have come out of their shell and made new friends during their stay. Sometimes with help from the ideas above, and sometimes all on their own.
However your children make new friends on an activity trip, it is a magical moment that makes the stay even more worthwhile.
We welcome many families time and time again, on weekend and midweek breaks. They come for the activities and facilities, and also for the chance to meet new people. See more about our family breaks in Devon for additional information.
Residential trips are an opportunity for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Yet for a parent, watching your child leave for a residential can be a daunting or worrying experience. Many parents wonder how their child will behave and will they be safe?
In this news piece, we hope to ease your worries with guidance on how to keep your child safe on a residential trip, even if you will not be by their side…
Learn about the residential
It’s essential to carefully plan for a residential, which starts with knowing all the details. Teachers or group leaders will be arranging the trip but parents, guardians or carers should be involved in several ways.
You could talk to the people planning the residential. Schools commonly hold pre-trip meetings to inform and take questions. If not, consider contacting them directly.
It can seem scary entrusting your children in someone else’s care. So knowing timings, travelling plans, locations and sleeping arrangements will settle your nerves. You can also inform the residential leaders of important information about your child to keep them safe and well.
Talk with your child about their trip
When you have all the details about the residential, you can pass it on to your child in a way they will understand. This helps them get excited whilst also contributing to their safety on the trip as they will be better prepared.
Talk them through where they are going, what they will be doing, and how days will be structured. Listen to any concerns they may have and add reassurance.
Perhaps your child is nervous or unsure about going? The more your child talks about it, the better they will feel. We have compiled some extra tips on how to get them excited for a residential trip.
Discuss safety and boundaries
Another area of discussion is what they must do to keep safe.
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with the group – close to their teacher, group leader or other authority figures, such as activity instructors.
It can be helpful to explain that a residential is fun and thrilling but that they still need to follow the same rules they follow when at home, at school or walking on the pavement.
It’s often beneficial to add extra boundaries unique to their residential. Examples could be emphasising that they must stay in the centre, or that they can’t use the activity facilities until told to by an instructor.
The more conversations you have, the better children will understand the rules, even though you won’t be there to supervise them.
Check out the location
If you know where the residential is taking place, why not spend time with your child looking at it online? Search for the location and see what comes up. There may be galleries on their website or good images on the search engine to go through.
If brochures or itineraries are available, you could go through them together to help get your child excited. Plus it gives you extra opportunities to establish the rules of the trip. If there are maps or plans of the grounds and accommodation, use them to set boundaries, showing where they can and cannot go.
Pack their bags as a team
Get your child involved in the packing of their bags. Since you both know what the residential involves, you can ensure they have everything needed for a good time whilst looking after themselves.
Depending on their age and abilities, kids can contribute in different ways. Let younger ones see what you are packing and explain why each item and piece of clothing is essential. They could then add fun and comforting extras, such as a toy, book or accessories.
Older children could pack their bags themselves, with supervision and guidance if needed. This teaches them to plan ahead, increases independence, and makes them think of their own wellbeing and safety.
Packing together reassures them, and you, that they have everything needed to feel prepared, safe and secure.
See our guide on things to pack for a residential trip.
Make them stand out
One more point about packing is to dress your children in brightly coloured clothes that stand out and avoid dark colours that will blend into surroundings. This will make them easy to see and remember in a crowd or against a natural backdrop.
The colour of their clothing is unlikely to be an issue during a Calvert Trust Exmoor visit, as activity groups are small and supervised by the same instructor throughout. But elsewhere on other residentials, it may be beneficial for their safety.
Make sure contact details are up to date
Confirm that the group leaders have your correct contact details before the residential. Provide one or two additional emergency numbers if you may not be reachable – just in case.
Have faith in risk assessments
Schools and residential leaders will have your child’s safety as their highest priority. They will conduct rigorous risk assessments for every activity and location, whether it be a day out or week away.
A risk assessment must be carried out for each residential, which will help teachers identify and remove any of the potential risks. Schools must adhere to set staffing to child ratios and will keep individual physical, medical, social and behavioural needs in mind before and during a residential.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan to follow if an accident or incident occurs during a trip.
Plus, residential centres have their unique risk assessments and safety procedures with trained staff and instructors who also have everyone’s safety as their highest priority.
Many sites are also audited or inspected by independent boards. For instance, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we have…
- The Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
- Five-star activity accommodation status awarded by Visit England
- Been certified by activity bodies such as British Canoeing, the British Horse Society, and more
Residential breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At our activity centre we welcome children of all ages and specialise in accessible breaks for people with physical, learning, sensory or behavioural disabilities. Our residential breaks are based at our remote centre in North Devon, meaning the group stays safely inside the grounds away from busy roads.
The stay will include activities throughout the day, then access to group swimming sessions, the sensory room, and social areas in the evening. Activities, accommodation, meals and facilities are all on-site and included in the costs.
Wherever they are visiting, keeping your child safe on a residential break starts with good communication and ensuring children understand what they should and should not do to keep themselves safe. The residential leaders and centre staff will take it from there to make sure everyone has a wonderful break.