Many of us may know or care for someone with mobility issues and will have seen how wider society is not always equipped to support them. Understanding the most productive ways to help people with mobility-related disabilities, whether it’s supporting them to maintain their independence or with daily activities, can be beneficial for everyone.
From giving them a sense of independence to adapting furniture, there are various ways to assist people with mobility issues.
If you have the means to do so, replacing furniture or introducing adaptive elements can be helpful for day-to-day navigation around the home.
For many people who have limited mobility, using high-raised chairs and sofas is very beneficial. Most standard sofas and armchairs are low, making them more challenging to use due to less mobile joints and muscles. This is why high-sitting furniture is recommended and often found in various care environments.
Balance can also present a challenge for some. Rails around the house in necessary places like stairs and hallways can be useful for people with limited mobility that still enjoy and are able to move around.
For many individuals, knowing that there is support from the rails when they start to feel weak or unsteady can give them peace of mind as they know they have something that they can hold onto. Our accessible accommodation and facilities at Calvert Trust Exmoor, have a wide range of adaptive equipment available to make your stay with us more comfortable. You can find lots more information about our accessibility on our website.
Ramps and Stair Lifts
Many homes have steps up to the front and back doors, replacing these steps with ramps is brilliant for those with mobility difficulties and wheelchair users. Installing ramps can also help to facilitate independence.
It may be a practical idea to install a stair lift, this way individuals can safely get up stairs, with a lot more ease.
Brighten Up Dark Areas
A lot of homes have areas that don’t receive very much natural light. Making sure these areas as well as the rest of the house are well lit is very important for people’s safety. There are a range of ways to brighten up a space such as:
- Overhead lighting
- Table lamps
- Floor lamps
LEDs are great for saving energy in the long term, all whilst boosting the brightness of your home and making sure everyone can move around safely and comfortably.
Encouragement and Support
Some people who experience mobility issues may become disheartened when they feel they can’t do something that others can. With the right adaptive equipment, this is simply not the case and being encouraged and supported by loved ones can really help improve their motivation and confidence. Encouraging your loved one no matter their endeavours can make them feel supported and allows them to know that you are there for them when things get tough.
Encouraging anyone and standing by them when things get challenging can really help their mental health as well as physical activity, as it reduces stress and the feeling of loneliness.
Physical exercise is important for everyone, especially those who might not move around as often as others. There are many at-home activities that can be great for getting your loved one moving around the house as best as they can.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we offer disabled friendly holidays in Devon which are great for people with mobility issues as we have many supportive staff who will help you with all of our fun, accessible activities, including:
And more! We believe that there should be no limit for anyone; our activities are wheelchair-friendly and provide a great opportunity for everyone to get involved. Something super special about our centre, is that our instructors stay with you through every adventure, get to know you and allow your experience to be tailored specifically for you.
If you think Calvert Trust Exmoor is the perfect place for you to enjoy a holiday packed full of fun, accessible activities for everyone to enjoy, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!
For those unfamiliar with sign language, it is not uncommon to assume that there is only one universal signing system. However, this is not the case. It is believed that anywhere between 138 to 300 distinct forms of sign language are currently used worldwide.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we understand how vital different forms of communication are for human connection in general. No matter your level of ability, learning about sign languages could be life-changing for many people.
Why is Sign Language Important?
Sign language is a language system used mainly by those who have hearing impairments or are deaf. It is essential that this form of communication exists as people with hearing impairments can experience social isolation due to their disability.
Unlike the spoken word, where verbal speech is the main form of interaction, sign language uses the below as the primary ways of communicating:
- Body language
- Facial expressions
Other Ways of Including People With Hearing Impairments
As mentioned above, people with hearing impairments often experience significant isolation. Communication through touch and sight are key aspects of inclusion and can be explored in other ways than sign language.
For example, at Calvert Exmoor, we offer many accessible activities for deaf and hard of hearing guests that provide excellent opportunities for interacting with sense of sight or touch. Some of these opportunities include:
- Adaptive cycling
- Horse riding
- Zip wiring
Guests can expect a focused, attentive approach from our fully-qualified instructors during their stay. Many more exhilarating and deaf-friendly activities are available to encourage social inclusion for a loved one.
Why Are There So Many Forms of Sign Language?
Similar to verbal language, ways of accessible communication develop within cultures and groups of people unique to the area they live in. Therefore, these interactions will be different between communities.
Most sign language systems don’t align with the spoken languages of the environment and tend to be separate language systems.
A good example is the difference between American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL). Both the spoken languages of these communities are the same in that they verbally speak in English, although minute differences exist, for example, the difference between sidewalk and pavement.
However, ASL and BSL share some significant differences as they are in different areas of the world.
How Sign Language is Developed
It is not unusual for sign language to advance from a ‘parent sign language’. An example that highlights this can be found in the similarities between ASL and French Sign Language (LSF).
Despite the geographical distance, they bear resemblance due to the introduction of the ‘methodical sign system’ produced in France during the 18th century. Laurent Clerc, a French teacher who was deaf, shared this system with American deaf education and created what is now known as the American School for the Deaf.
Regional Variations of Sign Language
Similar to accents in spoken language, accents and dialects also exist within sign language. As sign language is more of a secluded form of communication, there tends to be a considerable variation between regions. This is especially prevalent in Britain, where sign language varies between towns and cities across the country.
What Forms of Sign Language Are Used in the UK?
Below are the most common forms of sign language used in the UK. As previously mentioned, different regions will slightly differ according to their dialects.
- British Sign Language (BSL)
- BSL taught through spoken Welsh
- Irish Sign Language (ISL)
- Sign Supported English (SSE)
We go into more detail about these variations below.
British Sign Language (BSL)
The type of sign language used the most in Britain is British Sign Language, also known as BSL. Research in 2011 suggested that BSL is used by around 151,000 people in favour of other sign languages.
According to the BSL website, BSL has its own syntax and grammatical structure unrelated to the English spoken language.
In 2003, the government officially regarded BSL as a minority language after a thorough campaign. As a result, according to the BSL website, awareness of deaf communications has increased, and BSL is recognised in the same way other minority languages are, such as Welsh and Gaelic.
If you want more information about British Sign Language, the BSL website provides further guidance and support. You can also discover how you can take a course in BSL.
Influence in Wales
A more recent advancement is a project by Mudiad Meithrin in Wales, which is prepared to teach young students BSL through the spoken language of Welsh as opposed to English.
Irish Sign Language
Also known as ISL, Irish Sign Language is mainly used in the Republic of Ireland but is also exercised in Northern Ireland. BSL is also commonly used in Northern Ireland.
ISL tends to have similarities to French Sign Language but has a bit of inspiration from BSL too. Like BSL, it doesn’t bear a resemblance to spoken English or Irish.
However, an intriguing aspect of ISL is its gendered sign language. Due to some male and female schools being separate in Ireland, ISL has diverged into two different sign languages.
There is heavy debate within Irish deaf communities regarding the dominance of men’s sign language, and, like with most forms of language, it is likely to evolve.
Sign Supported English (SSE)
Sign Supported English (SSE) is not a language on its own. The signs used are the same as those used in BSL. However, the signs are expressed in the same grammatical order as spoken English.
The key use of SSE is to accompany the learning process of those who have hearing impairments and are learning English grammar as well as sign language.
Why is Makaton Important?
Makaton makes use of graphic symbols, hand signs and spoken language as support for those who may need assistance with communication or have learning difficulties. It could assist the learning development of someone who has down syndrome, a neurological disorder or language impairment, for example.
We actually have more guests who use Makaton than we do BSL at Calvert Exmoor, so our staff have training in and experience with this unique method of communication.
If you require more information about the adventure breaks we offer and are interested in our holidays for deaf adults, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or email us at email@example.com.
Autism is often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). When it comes to understanding autism, it is important to remember that autism is considered a spectrum, and encompasses a range of disorders or experiences rather than just one. Consequently, each individual who has autism has different levels of sensory sensitivity.
With years of experience providing autism friendly holidays, at Calvert Exmoor, we cater to a broad spectrum of needs and understand how important it is that people with autism create and achieve self-care goals.
As such, we’ve created some helpful tips for those who would like to introduce self-care goals to an autistic person’s routine. In this blog, we aim to share these.
Why Are Goals Important For People with Autism?
Setting goals, whether big or small, can act as a motivational tool. It is a way to make changes accessible by implementing little lifestyle habits that are easy to repeat.
Having goals can open up more opportunities to gain greater independence in certain aspects of our lives as they offer us a sense of control. Lots of small goals over time can encourage us to make changes beyond what we would have previously thought possible.
Introducing Self-Care Goals
Some individuals who have autism can find organisation challenging. Using prompts and breaking down tasks into manageable steps can help introduce initially difficult tasks to someone who has autism.
This could include things such as:
- Getting dressed
- Brushing teeth
- Brushing hair
- Packing a bag
- Making their bed
How to Achieve Self-Care Goals
As previously mentioned, splitting tasks into smaller steps will help them become more manageable. There are a range of ways you can approach this, including:
‘Forward chaining’ is a method that The National Autistic Society has recommended. This process involves teaching a skill by breaking it down into smaller, manageable steps, helping to achieve the overall aim.
For example, when brushing your teeth:
- First, take the toothbrush
- Next, rinse the toothbrush with a little bit of water (this step may be an area of debate!)
- Then put a ‘pea-size’ amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush
- Then a drop of water (again, debatable!)
Again, this is a method suggested by the National Autistic Society, except this implements the task steps by working from the last step backwards.
Maintain a ‘Sensory Record’
As you try to introduce small goals, we recommend keeping a diary of the reactions caused by certain tasks or scenarios. By taking note of these occurrences, the process can be reviewed and adapted in the future to accommodate the triggers of unease and uncertainty discovered by these records.
A gentle, sensory experience with toys may help ease some symptoms of anxiety and provide relief from overstimulation.
An excellent way to implement new things, especially for children, is to use illustrations. Leaving pictures as reminders will prompt them to follow the procedure displayed.
For example, the National Autistic Society has suggested putting a diagram, or list, in the bathroom which demonstrates the steps when brushing teeth. You can use pictures found online or create your own.
The National Autistic Society suggests that using a mixture of physical, gestural and verbal prompts can help people remember the order they need to accomplish the breakdown of tasks.
As the name suggests, this form of prompt is done by accompanying the person as you complete the activity.
For example, holding the toothbrush together and squeezing toothpaste onto it.
This is where you can pretend to do the task to prompt them to follow through with the action. For example, miming brushing your teeth as they brush their teeth in real life.
A verbal prompt is when you remind the person of the next step by saying it to them. For example, ‘rinse the toothbrush and put it in the holder.’
In order to help schedule these priorities, providing a calendar is a handy tool for people to refer to and act as a reminder.
To encourage people to achieve their goals, keep it motivational! One of the more successful ways of doing this is through praise. No matter what the task, even if it may seem very minimum, an achievement is an achievement and should receive lots of praise.
By knowing what the person appreciates, you can make the encouragement purposeful to the individual. This may be through verbal praise or a small gift, for example.
If you ever notice a decline in a loved one’s self-care routine, this could indicate underlying issues concerning their mental health. This could be anything from anxiety or depression to forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
If you feel this may be the case, the National Autistic Society recommends contacting the Autism Helpline, where they can direct you further on the most suitable procedures to take.
Autism Friendly Activities at Calvert Exmoor
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer accessible activities for people with autism and a range of other disabilities. We love to encourage all our guests to achieve their ambitions and intend to help those who want to set goals while staying with us.
For example, why not give archery a try? This activity offers a pleasant sensory experience for people with ADHD and/or autism, allowing our guests to unwind and gain a sense of accomplishment.
We take great pride in our certified instructors, who encourage independence when supervising activities by using physical, gestural and verbal prompts.
Daily timetables ensure there is a set routine for our guests. We also encourage using our social areas, where guests can meet and support one another before and after sessions.
Our facilities are tailored to assist all kinds of disabilities; for people with autism, we provide a sensory room that contains various receptive toys.
The wide range of adaptive activities and support we provide is only made possible with your help, so please consider supporting us however you can to ensure our guests can continue to feel empowered and confident during and after their stay with us.
Hopefully, the tips mentioned in this blog will offer some helpful pointers for accomplishing self-care goals! If you have any other recommendations, we would love to hear about them on our social media channels like Facebook!
If you would like more information about the Devon activity breaks we offer and are interested in booking a holiday with us, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People with autism can find processing everyday sensory experiences difficult. These sensory differences may mean a person with autism navigates the world differently and might seek different experiences than a neurotypical person.
Sensory toys and experiences that increase or decrease stimulation help engage numerous senses or let someone focus on one sensation, functioning to support individuals to relax or concentrate. These kinds of aids can be helpful for both children and adults with autism who are hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to stimulants.
As an activity centre that offers autism-friendly holidays, we understand how important it is for people with autism to feel in control of their surroundings. Our accessible facilities include a sensory room that provides different sensory toys and a safe space to get away from overwhelming stimulants.
What are Sensory Toys?
Sensory and receptive toys are designed to help you fully engage with one or more senses in an enjoyable way. This includes stimulating:
- Bodily Awareness
They are especially useful for children with autism who are learning how to respond to different sensory experiences, supporting both physical and cognitive development. Toys or tools like this can also be helpful with adults with autism as they can provide something to focus on and control when the outside world seems overwhelming or chaotic.
A sensory projector can create displays of lights, colours, patterns and images, helping you create a safe, controlled space with ambient lighting.
Depending on an individual’s response to light, this could be relaxing or exciting. Light projectors or even more simple colour torches offer an immersive but calming experience, making them especially useful tools for sleep routines.
Bubble machines or regular bottles of bubbles make great multi-sensory toys that can pique the interest of people of all different ages.
Not only are bubbles intriguing to look at, with their sheen of colours and wobbling shapes, but having fun with bubbles also creates the opportunity to incorporate some games.
Games could include popping as many bubbles as possible in a given time, blowing the largest bubble or following the bubbles until they pop.
Sand & Slime
Things like sand and slime are great for those that are intrigued by different experiences with touch. Playing with new textures offers a varied sensory experience that individuals can explore at their own pace.
Playing with kinetic sand or slime can be both relaxing and offer an outlet for creativity. As many of these products are available in bright colours or with different themes, they can also appeal to visual senses.
Fidget Cubes & Spinners
Fidget toys come in many forms, whether it’s a puzzle cube, light-up fidget spinner or any other small hand-held toy that has moving parts or enticing textures.
A small fidget toy is ideal to occupy those that are prone to distraction or individuals who like to keep their hands moving.
Fidget toys can be useful for both children and adults as many find them relaxing and provide a distraction from overwhelming sensations.
Sensory rings work in a similar way, distracting individuals and occupying their hands when they want to channel energy into something kinetic. You’ll find various kinds of sensory rings, with discrete, wearable rings that offer interesting textures or larger rubber rings to play with.
Wearable rings will often have small moving parts that will easily keep anxious hands busy and calm those who enjoy repetitive patterns and movements.
Colourful & Interactive Books
Books with vibrant colours and dynamic pictures appeal to anyone who likes to be visually stimulated.
Some books will have different textures and other interactive elements to intrigue and delight the reader’s tactile senses.
Some authors have written books specifically aimed towards children and adults with autism, helping them make sense of their sensory differences or other experiences or presenting relatable accounts of everyday situations.
Rainmakers can offer visual and auditory stimulation. These fun toys are often colourful, with lots of vibrant beads inside that individuals can watch fall and dance as they make soothing rain sounds.
The consistent, white noise-like sound produced by rainmakers can offer a preferable audible experience for those that are too overwhelmed by loud or intricate music where lots of different sounds are present.
Musical instruments are incredibly varied, so they will offer countless auditory experiences with the opportunity to explore different sensations. Research has indicated that music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, making it a useful therapy tool for people with autism.
As music doesn’t necessarily require the use of spoken language, engaging with different instruments can encourage those who struggle with verbal communication to find new ways to express themselves.
Those that take comfort in noticing patterns may also enjoy the inherent rhythm and counting in music.
Swings & Climbing Apparatus
For some, the act of moving their body and feeling different physical sensations can be soothing and helps relieve overwhelming thoughts or feelings.
Swings or climbing apparatus in the garden can be great tools for this and will help provide hours of fun while spending a bit of time outdoors.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, our giant swing activity provides an exhilarating sensory experience that will get guests moving in new ways. Our adaptive harnesses ensure everyone feels safe and supported, allowing them to focus on building confidence and having an amazing time!
Sensory Blackout Tent
Sometimes someone with autism may feel overstimulated and unable to process lots of things going on. This is when controlling sensory input can be incredibly useful.
A blackout tent or even a room catered to the sensory needs of an individual provides a place where they can retreat without the fear of becoming overwhelmed.
A tent or retreat like this can be customised to each individual and made extra comfortable with weighted blankets or other personal items that bring peace.
Providing adventure holidays that are accessible to all is at the heart of what we do here at Calvert Exmoor. Our activities are adapted to the needs of each individual, so people with autism and disabilities can enjoy their time with us to the fullest.
To book your adventure break, get in touch with our wonderful team!
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’re firm believers in the restorative powers of the natural world for those both young and old!
There are numerous benefits of spending time in nature, which we’re keen to embrace when offering our activity holidays for disabled people and their families.
Just being outdoors and enjoying activities in nature can improve general health and wellbeing, helping to ease feelings of anxiety. Find out just how beneficial outdoor activities can be below.
The Mental Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
The positive effects of spending time in nature have now been well documented. Being in green spaces can help boost your mood, reduce feelings of stress, make you feel more relaxed and even improve confidence.
Bringing nature into child’s life as well as your own can be greatly beneficial, whether they experience anxiety or not – doing things like gardening, going for walks or taking part in outdoor adventure activities can improve general wellbeing and open the door to new experiences!
10 Ways Outdoor Activities Help a Child with Anxiety
So how do these benefits of spending time outdoors take shape for children with anxiety?
1. Improved Sense of Wellbeing
Accessible outdoor adventure activities usually take place in quiet places, surrounded by the natural world and away from the hustle of everyday life. Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’re located in the countryside next to a national park and love the tranquillity that it can bring!
Just being in an environment surrounded by nature like this can improve wellbeing and make children more relaxed, reducing anxiety in general. Fresh air, trees and serene views can put the mind at ease, even at a young age.
2. Encouraging Acceptance of New Experiences
Structured outdoor activities can encourage an openness to new experiences. Doing new activities helps children learn that they can do things they didn’t think possible, which reduces fears, worries and anxieties.
Having support and encouragement from those around them can also improve their experience, help them overcome phobias, boost social confidence and build positive memories.
3. A New Way of Thinking
By participating in new experiences, children can develop a new way of thinking.
For example, a child abseiling for the first time has probably never thought about how to abseil before. In the build-up, they may be nervous and worried about falling. Yet, with the help of activity instructors and those around them, the child will learn about the equipment, how the ropes work, and will take on important information.
This makes them focus on how to abseil rather than worrying about whether they can or not, reducing anxiety.
4. Increased Confidence & Independence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement during outdoor activities, which improves confidence and self-belief.
Completing an activity teaches a child that they are good enough to do it, which can inspire them to tackle other challenges with new enthusiasm. Feelings of self-doubt are overcome and replaced with perseverance – improving confidence and reducing anxiety levels.
5. Different Stimulation
Doing outdoor activities provides different and new stimuli. By embracing these differences, children learn to confront unfamiliar places more confidently. Seeing, smelling, hearing and doing new things becomes less overwhelming, and the idea of somewhere ‘new’ becomes less daunting.
6. Connecting with Others
A sense of belonging and community can form between children when in an unfamiliar environment. The process of doing new activities together connects children, especially when several of the group are anxious.
The shared feelings of uncertainty are often what bonds children who have just met, and they can quickly form a team or friendship.
7. Acquiring New Skills
By doing inclusive outdoor activities, children can learn skills while improving general coordination and motor skills. In the long run, this improves self-confidence and allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Feelings of anxiety can be reduced as they build confidence and experience different ways to learn and succeed.
8. Reduced Stress
It is well documented that stress and fatigue, caused by any number of things, can contribute to anxiety. A stressed child could struggle to deal with their feelings, increasing anxiety.
Outdoor activities help overcome phobias such as heights, encourage socialising and offer positive life experiences, reducing stress and lowering anxiety levels.
9. Feelings of Responsibility & Control
Children can have anxiety because of what they are going through at a particular moment in time. Giving them the responsibility and control over the situation helps reduce fears.
During outdoor activity sessions, the children always feel in control of their own actions. A child may be encouraged to take part, but it is ultimately their decision if they do or not. Subconsciously this can reduce anxiety as they always feel in control and are able to make their own decisions.
10. Improved General Mental Health
Feelings of anxiety impact a child’s general mental health, and prolonged anxiety can greatly affect them. All of the above benefits combine to help encourage positive feelings and healthier habits.
Read more about how an adventure break can improve mental health for people of all ages and abilities.
What is Anxiety?
Everyone may feel anxious at some point, with feelings of worry, stress and uncertainty being common manifestations of the emotion. It’s perfectly normal to feel these things at various points in your life but can be cause for concern when these feelings are more severe.
Anxiety starts to become more serious when negative feelings last for longer periods of time, and they begin having a detrimental effect on your everyday life. For example, people with anxiety may avoid situations they worry about. This is when normal feelings of anxiety turn into varying degrees of anxiety-based disorders.
How you deal with anxiety largely influences your mental health and general wellbeing. While facing anxiety can be challenging, there are numerous ways to help reduce negative feelings and give you the necessary tools you need to cope, as shown with the benefits of outdoor activities above.
Why Would a Child Have Anxiety?
Anyone of any age can experience anxiety, whether to a healthy degree or to the point of developing an anxiety disorder.
There are various reasons your child might start feeling anxious. Some common causes of anxiety in children include:
- Separation – younger children often experience separation anxiety from parents or other loved ones and feel panicked or scared when away from them.
- Phobias – irrational fears of things like bugs or the dark.
- Social settings – feeling nervous, embarrassed or shy around others, especially new people.
- Life experiences – reflecting on negative feelings or bad experiences.
- Life changes – changes to the everyday routine, new settings, unfamiliar situations, moving to a new house or school or the loss of a close relative or friends can all cause anxiety.
What are the Signs of Anxiety in Children?
Every child will display anxiety differently, but some common signs might include:
- Becoming irritable
- Having difficulty sleeping or having bad dreams
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Losing appetite or not eating properly
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Asking lots of questions or needing reassurance
- Feeling tense and fidgety
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
- Lack of confidence to do everyday things
- Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed, such as seeing friends, going out or going to school
If you think your child might be dealing with a more severe anxiety disorder, consult a healthcare professional.
How Can Disability Contribute to Anxiety?
Depending on the disability or condition, a child might have additional difficulties in social settings and may face further struggles with change.
It’s also likely that their life experiences are unique to them and different to those without disabilities; they may feel that no one else understands what they have gone through and that they can’t do what others can.
At Calvert Exmoor, we believe it’s what you can do that counts and ensures that everyone can enjoy the many benefits of participating in accessible adventure activities.
At Calvert Exmoor, we often meet anxious children who do not think they will enjoy their stay or are worried about doing certain outdoor activities. Once they begin their adventure, they have a wonderful time and love every activity, conquering their fears and leaving with a positive mindset.
If nothing else, children spending time with family or friends in a safe environment helps them relax and enjoy the experience, meaning they can start to understand anxiety and develop skills to get past their worries in other settings.
If you think your child would enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities we have to offer, please do get in touch to learn more or book an accessible adventure break today!
As an accessible centre that provides activity holidays for people with disabilities, we offer exciting adventure activities that help push individuals out of their comfort zone. We’ve seen first-hand how breaks away like this can boost a person’s confidence and self-esteem, no matter who they are or their circumstances.
Showing that everyone matters and should be able to experience all kinds of things is at the heart of what we do here at Calvert Exmoor. Whoever you are and whatever your ability, we believe it’s what you CAN do that counts.
We work hard to provide an environment of support and know how important it can be to reach out to others when you are struggling.
Checking in With Your Mental Health & Seeking Help
Over the past years, there has been a necessary and welcome surge in mental health support and awareness, making understanding your own mental health and recognising the signs you may need to seek help more accessible.
For many who struggle with mental health challenges, reaching out to seek others’ help is a turning point. Whether this means checking in with a family member, friend, medical professional or support line, this step is often one of the first steps to help you get to a better place.
However, knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to take those initial steps. If you are struggling yourself or want to support someone you love, there are numerous things you can embrace to make reaching out to others easier, helping to improve wellbeing and happiness.
The Benefits of Having a Reliable Social Support Network
Sometimes being on your own for a while is necessary as a bit of time to yourself can help you work through problems or uncertainties.
However, too much time on your own can become unhealthy, especially over prolonged periods. Humans are social beings, so it is important to have social networks we can trust and turn to when things become difficult.
A sympathetic ear or the presence of someone we can trust can help prevent, or at least ease, feelings of isolation, alienation and rumination.
Knowing you have a trustworthy network of people to turn to can:
- Improve your ability to deal with stress and anxious feelings
- Boost your self-esteem and social skills
- Improve overall health and wellbeing
Not Everyone Finds Talking Easy
For many, the idea of being honest about their feelings or asking for support makes them feel vulnerable, which dissuades them from confronting their difficulties.
While it can feel overwhelming to talk about your problems, it’s important to remember that those who you care about want to listen so they can help support you.
If you talk to someone about your feelings and they haven’t quite reacted the way you thought, this is also okay. We all have different life experiences, and just because a conversation hasn’t gone as you may have hoped doesn’t mean that someone else might not understand.
The person you’ve opened up to may feel unequipped to support you because of their own issues; this does not mean there aren’t other people you can turn to who will be able to help.
If you feel like you don’t have friendships you can rely on, remember it is never too late to open yourself to new experiences, find friends and join new social networks. As life and our circumstances change, so too can our support networks.
Seeking out a local group that celebrates one of your interests or even going on an adventure holiday that can improve mental health can expose you to new people and give you the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
Bonding with like-minded people can also put you in touch with others who have shared similar experiences and can offer advice on how they would deal with a situation.
How to Reach Out to Someone Who is Struggling
If you know that a loved one isn’t quite themselves, sometimes giving them the space to reach out is required.
However, if your loved one hasn’t connected with you in some time, it may be time for you to open the conversation by letting them know you are around to listen without pushing the issue too much.
By opening the door to communication, you allow them to move at their own pace, ensuring they don’t feel ambushed or shamed.
Creating a Safe Space
If you want to offer support, creating a safe space where your loved one feels like they can explain their thoughts, feelings and worries is essential.
It is not your place to judge, only to show you care about their struggles and will do what you can to help, whether this means helping them seek professional support or just being a friendly face to chat to at the end of a hard day.
It’s Not All About Talking
As much as talking about our problems can offer relief, building healthy, supportive relationships relies on more than just having the tough conversations. Simply spending time with someone and taking part in activities together can be extremely beneficial.
This shows you are there for the good times and hard times, proving you to be a reliable presence in someone’s life and a friend they can lean on.
One of our goals at Calvert Exmoor is to bring people from all walks of life together to enjoy a range of fantastic accessible adventure activities in Devon. If this sounds like something you or a loved one would enjoy, get in touch today to find out more about the accessible holidays we offer.
Going away on an adventure is always exciting no matter your age – whether your child is venturing on a school residential trip or you and your family are planning an accessible holiday, there’s a lot to look forward to.
But before the excitement can begin, you’ll need to think about preparing for the trip and organising everything that needs to be packed.
Preparing for an Accessible Activity Holiday
The accessible adventure breaks we offer here at Calvert Exmoor are designed to be enjoyed by everyone; we are dedicated to ensuring all our guests can take part in a diverse range of exciting, accessible activities and, most importantly, have a brilliant time!
While a stay with us is all about having a go at things you might never have done before (and having loads of fun), we understand that some guests may be anxious about their stay and unsure of what to expect.
Making sure you have everything you need for your journey and holiday is a practical way to temper some of this wariness to ensure you can focus on making memories and trying out new activities.
We’ve provided a basic holiday packing list and some additional preparation tips to help you stay organised for your time away.
To get more of a sense of what to expect from a break with us, you can read our guide to weekend breaks at Calvert Exmoor.
Packing List for Accessible Adventure Holidays
Many of our activities take place in the great outdoors, so it’s important to take this into account when deciding what to bring along.
There might be a couple of essential everyday items that you’ll need to pack, but it isn’t necessary to go out and get a whole new wardrobe for the different activities you’ll be doing!
So, what will you need?
Appropriate Shoes & Footwear
You’ll likely need a couple of pairs of shoes to suit the different activities you’ll be taking part in. We recommend considering:
- Durable shoes: Walking boots or Wellington boots are ideal for exploring outside, especially where it’s wet or muddy.
- Trainers: You may need a couple of pairs, including backup trainers, for when you do water-based activities.
- Sturdy shoes: Boots or shoes with a small heel are necessary when horse riding, so consider this if you’re looking to participate in the activity.
- Waterproof jacket or coat: This will keep you dry and warm throughout your adventure.
- Waterproof trousers: These might not be absolutely essential but will come in very handy if the weather takes a turn, or you just want to feel more prepared.
- Trousers: Tracksuit bottoms or comfortable trousers are ideal – jeans will be less comfortable when taking part in activities. You may also want to bring shorts if that’s what you prefer but note that full-length trousers are mandatory if you’re horse riding.
- Jumpers and T-shirts: You’ll likely want a couple of thin layers, so you can bundle up when cold but easily take off layers when you get warmer.
- Casual clothes and sleepwear: Practical clothing is best for when you’re out and about doing activities, but when you relax in the evenings, you may want to change into more comfortable clothes.
- Socks and underwear: Remember to bring plenty to last for the duration of your trip!
- Swimwear: You’ll need this for swimming in the pool and for any other water-based activities. Goggles can also be useful, and you’ll need a couple of towels too.
The British weather can be more than a little temperamental, so it’s often best to pack for a couple of eventualities.
Before you set out on your trip, looking up the weather forecast will give you an idea on which items to prioritise. Weather-specific items that you’ll need to consider include:
- Waterproofs: These will keep you dry and comfortable.
- Sun protection: If the sun makes an appearance, you’ll probably want a hat or cap, sunglasses and plenty of sun cream.
- Cold weather clothing: If the weather’s going to be a little chiller, you might want to bring along a woolly hat, scarf and gloves.
Remember to Pack Toiletries
Aside from clothing, you’ll need to pack a bag of everyday hygiene items and toiletries, including things like:
- Soap or shower gel
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Towels & flannels
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Hair ties & clips
- Comb or hairbrush
- Feminine hygiene products
Specialist Personal Equipment
While we have a wide range of accessible equipment here at Calvert Exmoor, to make your stay as comfortable as possible, you may want to bring along any specialist personal equipment in order to ensure that you have everything you need to feel relaxed during your stay.
This could include items such as wheelchairs, hearing aids or any specific medical equipment; whatever you need to feel at ease, we’d encourage you to pack it.
Holiday Packing Advice
If you’re worried about forgetting anything, making a physical packing list to tick off the items can be helpful – this will also help ensure you or your child don’t forget anything when returning home.
Adding labels to your personal items and clothing may also be useful, especially for younger adventurers.
If you’re packing things like phones or cameras, remember to take their chargers and perhaps a secure bag to ensure they’re kept safe over your stay. Books and journals can also be great things to bring along for when you have a quiet moment in the evenings and you want to reflect on the adventures and activities you’ve enjoyed during your stay.
If there’s anything else that you can’t go without during your day-to-day routine, remember to pack this too – there’s no reason why you can’t be as comfortable as possible when you book an accessible trip away.
Once you’ve packed your bags, you’re all set to enjoy your break with us!
If you’d like to find out more about our accessible outdoor activity holidays, whether for families, schools or other groups, please get in touch with the Calvert Exmoor team.
How Can SPELL Support People With Autism?
Life for people with autism can be made more challenging by an exclusive society. Many people with autism may communicate in different ways from neurotypical individuals, which can put them on the periphery of wider society when others are not correctly educated about different methods of communication.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to making the world a more welcoming place for all. Our inclusive and adaptive activity holidays for people with disabilities cater to people of all ages and abilities, including those on the autistic spectrum.
Learning about frameworks like SPELL is just one useful place to start when considering how to better understand and respond to people with autism. What are the benefits of SPELL, and how can the structure support communications for people with autism?
What is the SPELL Framework?
Developed by the National Autistic Society, SPELL is a guideline that can help those interacting with people with autism recognise someone’s individual needs and understand how to best meet these needs. There are five elements that go into creating the framework:
- Positive Approaches and Expectations
- Low Arousal
How to Support an a Person With Autism
Using SPELL provides a useful baseline when it comes to supporting people with autism. The guidelines it gives can be adapted for people of all ages.
The five principles focus on assessing the unique needs of individuals with autism and explore the ways we can change our environments to make communication more accessible and effective. How can each element support people with autism?
Many people with autism may struggle with change or unpredictability, so providing structure can be hugely beneficial.
A sense of structure can give individuals more independence and confidence as they’ll know what to expect from a situation or person. Facilitating structure, stability and routine that is catered to individuals can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Positive Approaches & Expectation
This element focuses on building self-esteem and confidence through focusing on interests and strengths and building goals around these positive attributes.
Creating realistic targets that take into account the barriers an individual might face helps support development. Many people with autism may struggle with trying new experiences, but a structure of positive encouragement can help support progress.
As individuals progress, they can start setting higher goals that will support their overall well-being.
When a neurotypical person communicates with someone with autism, empathy can be a helpful tool. Seeing the world from their perspective may help you understand their reactions to certain things and what you can do to help improve the environment or reduce stressors.
Developing successful relationships will often come down to communicating in a consistent, logical and empathetic manner.
Different people will be able to deal with different levels of stimulus, so consider how the environment might affect a person with autism. Environments should be ordered and free of distractions to help keep communication relaxed and clear.
Some may need more time and focus to digest information, so keep control of any input to avoid a chaotic environment. Remain aware of noise, light, colours, smells and anything else in the environment that might cause a sensory overload.
This point refers to the importance of communicating with people with autism and the other people in their life, whether this means family, friends or caregivers.
Considering this support network as a unit helps avoid any instances of miscommunication or a fragmented approach. By keeping all involved on the same page, relevant information can flow more effectively.
Understanding and Responding to Autism
With this framework, hopefully, caregivers and others who interact with people with autism can gain a better understanding of the most productive ways to communicate with and support them.
It should be noted that everyone is different and will have different needs, so tailor your approach to them rather than following the framework blindly.
If you are or you know a someone with autism who would love to take on a new adventure at our autism-friendly activity centre, why not get in touch to find out more about our activities and opportunities?
Using acceptable terminology to talk about disability is not merely about being ‘politically correct’ – it is about removing barriers, changing assumptions and creating an inclusive environment that welcomes all.
As an accessible activity centre that welcomes those of all ages and abilities, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are committed to ensuring everyone has a better understanding of inclusive language and behaviour.
We understand that, for many, using the wrong language comes from being unaware rather than being willfully hurtful; so, it is important that everyone does what they can to educate themselves and help spread awareness of the proper vocabulary to use when discussing disabilities.
How to Talk & Write About Disability
It should be noted that not everyone will agree on what exactly is acceptable or unacceptable. However, while there may be some disparity when considering the correct terms on an individual basis, there are some general language guidelines that you should be aware of.
If you are unsure about what words and phrases to use, you should ask the person you are talking to to find out which terms they are comfortable with, as different individuals may identify with certain things.
Language is constantly evolving as definitions change over time and disability advocates become more prominent, so it is also vital to keep up to date with acceptable language and remain sensitive to the changes.
The recommendations that inform this guide comes from the Government website, the NHS, and various disability-specific charities that work with disability advocates to establish inclusive language guidelines.
The Social Model of Disability & Language
Developed by people with disabilities, this model concludes that individuals are disabled by the barriers that society inflicts, not by their impairment.
Language plays an essential role in this model as using the correct language helps change cultural assumptions and encourages the use of positive terms over negative and medical terminology.
Some may not relate to the social model of disability, so again, it is important to have conversations with the people with disabilities in your life to understand which terms they consider appropriate.
General Inclusive Terminology
You should not use the term ‘the disabled’ when referring to a collective group; instead, use ‘people with disabilities’ to put emphasis on the fact that individuals are not defined by a disability – the term disabled is descriptive, not a group of people.
Acceptable: people with disabilities
Unacceptable: the disabled, the handicapped
In regards to accessible facilities:
Acceptable: accessible toilets/parking, parking for blue or orange badge holders
Unacceptable: disability-friendly, disabled toilets/parking
You should also avoid using terms like ‘able-bodied’ as this implies people with disabilities are unable – instead, use ‘non-disabled’.
Individuals & Their Disabilities
When referring to individuals with disabilities:
Acceptable: has ‘x’/has a diagnosis of ‘x’ (name of the condition, e.g. autism, depression, epilepsy)
Unacceptable: illness, suffers from, handicapped, invalid
You should avoid negative terms relating to illness as some may not consider themselves unwell or ‘having a condition’. The term ‘diagnosed with’ is also unacceptable to some as it centres a medical professional’s opinion rather than an individual.
When talking about autism:
Acceptable: person with autism, person on the autism spectrum
Unacceptable: people living with autism, an autistic
When talking about Asperger’s syndrome:
Acceptable: it is a form of autism
Unacceptable: it is not a rare or mild form of autism
When discussing mobility:
Acceptable: wheelchair user, walks with a mobility aid
Unacceptable: mobility problems, wheelchair-bound
Saying someone is wheelchair-bound implies they are restrained or restricted, so the preferred term for most is ‘wheelchair user’. For many, this term more accurately represents the experience and doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes.
Many people may avoid engaging with the topic of disability and the correct terminology for fear of saying the wrong thing. However, learning about acceptable terms can go a long way to make people feel more included and accepted by society.
If you would like to learn more about our accessible adventure breaks and our work here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can also find a rundown on what to expect from a weekend away with us below.
Please include attribution to https://calvertexmoor.org.uk/ when using the graphic in this article.
Financial Support for Parents and Carers of Disabled People
For parents and other carers of disabled people, young and old, financial concerns can be a challenging reality. It is no secret that caring for someone with a disability is rewarding, but it can also be both emotionally and financially demanding.
As a carer, you owe it to yourself and those you care for to understand the kind of financial support and potential benefits that are available to you.
As a disability charity in Devon, we know how important it is to recognise the challenges faced by carers and parents of people with disabilities, especially when it comes to money. Seeking help with benefits and funding can help you cover the costs of things like accessible holidays and new specialist equipment along with practical costs of everyday life.
Getting a Carer’s Assessment
There are a number of schemes and benefits that carers of disabled people can access when seeking financial aid. If you care for someone else, you are eligible for a carer’s assessment, which will be undertaken by your local council. The test is free and can be requested by anyone over the age of 18.
Organising this assessment is often the first step to take when considering what kind of support can be given to you – whether this includes financial or practical help or both.
When you get a carer’s assessment, you could get help with:
- Housework and gardening.
- Taxi fares.
- Help with caring to give you a break.
- Specialist training and equipment to help with your role as a carer.
- Advice on benefits and for careers.
If you do qualify for this support from the council, help with finances may be included in your subsequent care and support plan. However, a further financial assessment may also be required after your initial carer’s assessment.
You can get a carer’s assessment by contacting your local council. To find out more about organising one, get in touch with them or refer to the NHS website.
As a carer, you may be entitled to a variety of monetary benefits to help with the additional costs that supporting someone with a disability can bring – especially if your role as a carer means you cannot work in full-time employment.
If your carer’s assessment deems that you are a carer and eligible for benefits, you can receive a carer’s allowance. This is a state benefit that includes £67.60 a week. This can be claimed by carers who look after someone for 35 or more hours a week and comply with the other rules of eligibility.
Other Benefits for Carers
If you are a parent of a disabled child, you can claim the disability living allowance for children, which can amount to between £23.60 and £151.40 a week.
Other state benefits like the carer’s credit and carer premium can offer some additional allowances. To find out more about claiming a carer’s allowance and other related benefits, you can go to the government website.
While a carer’s allowance can offer some relief, paying for more expensive things like outings, trips and equipment may require more extensive funding. Applying for a grant through a disability charity can prove a great option for those that need extra financial support. Most grants will not have to be paid back, unlike a loan.
Many UK charities facilitate grants – this money is used for things that cannot be provided for by the local authorities.
Turn2Us is a wonderful organisation that makes searching for potential grants and funding that bit easier. Conditions of charitable grants will be different from charity to charity, so finding the right one for you can be tricky. The Turn2US Grant Search helps narrow down the grants that you could be eligible for.
Their Benefits Calculator is another helpful tool that supports people who are trying to understand the kind of financial benefits available to them.
The Disability Grants site provides another useful database to help you discover the right aid for you and the disabled person you care for.
How to Find the Right Financial Support
As with the facilitation of grants and funding, there are plenty of organisations out there that offer resources and advice on finding the right avenue for financial support.
The kind of aid you need may often depend on your individual situation, so make sure to take advantage of all the available resources.
Support for the Person You’re Caring For
Making sure the person you care for also has access to the financial and social care they are entitled to can help alleviate some of the pressures on you.
The person you care for may be able to claim disability benefits, so make sure to look into this along with the potential benefits that you yourself can apply for.
Struggling with money as a carer can be isolating, but it’s important to recognise that there is support for those that need it. As a parent or carer of a disabled person, you should not have to worry over money on top of everyday stressors.
Supporting people with disabilities and their families is at the heart of what we do. Find out more about our bursary options to discover how you could be supported when organising an accessible activity holiday to Calvert Trust Exmoor.
For more information about The Calvert Experience, please get in touch with our friendly team.