Sensory and receptive toys can be helpful for children and adults on the autism spectrum as they may assist in easing feelings of anxiety by occupying one or more of the five senses.
Various toys which are specifically designed to assist those who have autism are available. The items below may not all be specially designed with an autism spectrum condition in mind but are considered as helpful by charities which support those have autism. These items and ideas are what our article will focus on.
As a site that offers accessible holidays in Devon, our facilities include a sensory room which is available as a safe space to those who have autism and may need an area away from overwhelming surroundings.
The Purpose of Receptive Toys
Receptive toys can be used to interact with one or more of the five senses:
They are produced with the aim to assist with physical or cognitive development and to attain the attention of a child who may feel overwhelmed by surroundings which feel chaotic. If you would like to learn more about autism, please take a look at our blog on Understanding Autism.
There are many projectors on the market which are designed to create a safe-feeling space through ambient lighting. The OPTI Aura Sensory Projector is a leading brand built by the same company which produced lighting for shows, including The Who and Pink Floyd. Testimonials of their positive impact can be found on their website, including from the parents of children who live with special needs, such as autism. The projector has been described as being especially useful when aiding with sleep routines due to the relaxing environment they create. Colour torches can also offer similar features, at a smaller price tag.
A bubble machine can be considered a multi-sensory toy which can intrigue a range of ages. By creating bubbles, it can be enjoyed on its own or incorporated into games. For example, tracking games by following the bubble, chasing the bubbles and catching the bubbles which exercise tracking and motor skills. If your child prefers to try things themselves, a bottle of bubbles is also a great and cheaper alternative.
Sensory Blackout Tent
A blackout tent can be personalised to each individual and can be made extra comfortable with beanbags to create a secure and safe space.
For those who like to be visually stimulated, colourful books can be satisfying. Dr Seuss is commonly named as a fantastic author with this in mind. Other authors have specially-dedicated books to help children and adults who have autism. Lynette Dare is an author who specialises in creating humoristic and personalised books for autistic children. She began writing to help her son, who was on the autism spectrum and has created a selection of beautifully colourful books which help make everyday situations relatable for children who can feel overwhelmed due to the effects of autism.
Fidget Toy Cube
A small toy which is ideal for going anywhere, the fidget cube is designed with a total of nine movements and textures to occupy those who are prone to distraction.
Light-Up Fidget Spinner
An item you may be familiar with, the fidget spinner has become a popular toy for many children and adults everywhere. It has been promoted as relieving feelings of anxiety by occupying the hands. With additional lights, it may engage the brain through its visual appeal.
Research has indicated that music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain and consequently has been used in therapy for children who have autism. As music doesn’t necessarily require the use of a spoken language, children and adults can feel encouraged to exercise communications through the sound of music.
One for the garden, a swing is a fun and soothing activity which some children and adults may enjoy. This activity is something we have adapted here at Calvert Trust Exmoor; we have an indoor giant swing which we have introduced to our site as a sensory experience for all to enjoy. Our adaptive harnesses and supports can be customised for each individual and fulfil any requirements they may need. It is used to help with feelings of self-belief and confidence.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing holidays that can be enjoyed by all. If you have any suggestions or recommendations about toys in relation to autism, we would love to hear about them! Contact us on our social media channels.
For many, residential trips may be the first time you and your child are separated over a more extended period compared to the usual family routine. As a result, many parents may have burning questions, and in some circumstances, apprehensions, about sending their child on a residential school trip. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are well experienced in running residential trips, alongside being expert providers of holidays for people with disabilities. With this in mind, we have created a parental guide to offer information on what to expect, as well as to ease feelings of anxiety.
Expect Your Child to Feel Nervous
Feeling nervous about leaving home for an unusual amount of time is a natural emotion that can accompany the residential experience. It is good to talk through these feelings and offer reassurance. We know that helping your child to feel more comfortable with an exciting experience can have its difficulties and have provided some handy hints and tips for those who would like some advice on how to get your child excited for a residential trip.
Expect Your Own Feelings of Anxiety
Being away from your child may produce slightly similar feelings of nervousness. This is also natural and should be predicted. However, knowing your child is experiencing new activities which can enhance their self-belief is a very comforting thought. For more information on how activity breaks can do this, take a look at how an adventure break improves self-confidence for a disabled child.
Know Your Child Will be Trying LOTS of New Activities
Possibly one of the most exciting parts of attending a residential trip is that the guests have the opportunity to experience fun and exciting activities. It is the chance for them to attempt something they perhaps have always wanted to, outside the usual expectations of school and daily life. This is the real attraction for schools, families and groups to organise a trip to an activity break as it challenges people in a fresh and intriguing way.
Know Children Will Always be Supervised
On this note, while guests try new activities, it should be stated that they will always be supervised by a professional and experienced instructor! Talking through the activities beforehand, demonstrations and safety rules will all feature during any activity tried.
Prepare for Mud and Water!
Many residential activities will feature a lot of mud and water! It is worth keeping this in mind when packing with your child and ensure you have packed for the residential appropriately. Schools often supply a recommended packing list, and it may also be worth contacting the school or organisation responsible for the trip to keep up to date with requirements.
Meals Will be Provided
As many children are not responsible for feeding themselves while out of the parental home, this is usually a necessary requirement for school trips and many residential trips will include meals. For any specific food requirements or allergies, the school must be contacted and informed, as well as the residential provider. The school or organisation may do this on your behalf; it is worth checking.
The Accommodation will Have Shower Facilities
As previously mentioned, residential trips tend to be a bit messy! As a result, washing facilities are necessary, and the residential provider should cover this. This may be a high up priority for those parents or carers with children who have a disability. For example, here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, our accommodation is supplied with expert washing facilities which can be tailored to match the needs of the guest.
Additional Needs Can be Organised
Any other requirements should be able to be catered for. An organisation such as our own will be dedicated to providing accessible experiences for all and are only a phone call away from being able to tailor the residential experience to match the needs of the guest. Always contact the school or organisation responsible with queries on particular requirements so the residential provider can be informed.
If you do have any queries about our adventure breaks, in particular, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to ring us on 01598 763221. Alternatively, you can also reach us on e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2018, over £50 million was raised by the Poppy Appeal. These donations help to care for both current and former members of the Armed Forces and their families. There are a variety of UK charities which have been set up to help former soldiers. The gov.uk website has a vast and useful list of charities in connection to veteran welfare and the service community. In this article, we have chosen a selection of charities which aim to support ex-service personnel who have suffered physical or mental trauma. The charities hold similar values to our own, to have accessibility for all.
Every year, Calvert Trust Exmoor welcomes war veterans for residentials at our five star, all accessible accommodation. For more information, take a look at our accessible holidays in Devon to find out what to expect when you stay with us.
The Royal British Legion- The Battle Back Centre
The Battle Back Centre was created in 2011 by the Royal British Legion. It was implemented to support injured members of the Armed Forces who were hurt while working in Iraq and Afghanistan. It focuses on providing accessible exercise and adventure activities in a safe space for servicemen and women to share and discuss their experiences while growing in confidence. It hopes to help introduce productive avenues for those who attend with their feelings of stress and anxiety. It has more recently developed wellbeing courses for veterans too.
Head to the Royal Legion website for more information or ring:
For serving personnel: 01952 815 670
For veterans: 01952 815681
Combat Stress has worked in supporting former members of the Armed Forces community to deal with the mental effects of their service for an impressive 100 years. It aims to help with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. It offers various specialist treatment and therapies in three different centres across the country. These include Ayrshire, Shropshire and Surrey and provide both residential and outpatient programmes as well as offering support for substance misuse. Furthermore, Combat Stress has introduced a Peer Support Service, a network created ‘by veterans for veterans’. It aims to provide a secure space for people to discuss their experiences with others who have been through similar situations and is an opportunity for ex-military to socialise comfortably.
A helpline for Combat Stress is available 24 hours a day throughout the year.
For veterans and their families: 0800 138 161
For serving personnel and families: 0800 323 4444
Text service is also available: 07537 404719
The Not Forgotten
The Not Forgotten is a charity which brings ex-service personnel together through social activities and holidays. Help is offered to anyone who has served or is currently serving in :
The Royal Navy
The Royal Marines
The British Army
The Royal Air Force
The Merchant Navy, both Regular and Reserve Forces
The charity aims to inspire confidence through physical tasks, which aim to challenge and inspire feelings of value and self-confidence. The charity also promotes the importance of socialising and creating friendships with fellow ex-service personnel.
To apply, head to the Not Forgotten website and fill in a general information form or print off and send in the post.
This charity has impressively supported for the Armed Forces for over 130 years. They pride themselves on their flexible services which they work hard to adjust and tailor to each individual to ensure help is as effective as possible. Working alongside other military charities, they are dedicated to providing those who seek support are efficiently looked after. These services include both physical and emotional care, including housing, finances, PTSD, addiction and relationship help.
To speak to a Forcesline advisor, telephone lines are available from Monday to Friday, 09:00- 17:30 on 0800 731 4880.
Help for Heros
Help for Heros is a well-known charity which offers support nationwide for those who have suffered an injury and illnesses while serving in the Armed Forces. They offer a recovery programme which has been developed alongside the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre which aims to either create the opportunity for veterans to live independently or for those who can, to successfully return to their military unit. The Stanford Hall Estate has been developed to make this possible and is a vital part of the programme. The H4H Veterans Clinical Advisor has been implemented to aid more advance injuries that require more complex treatment.
For further information about the support Help for Heros provides, please contact 0300 303 9888.
The NHS is not a charity, but it is worth looking into the help offered which is specific to ex-service personnel. They have a series of services which are designed to support the Armed Forces community across England. These include :
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
TILS was created to help servicemen and women transitioning from their service out of the Armed Forces. The aim is to prevent mental health issues developing further than the early stages by giving support promptly. Other affairs such as finance, employment and housing can also be offered.
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
This could be considered as the next stage after TILS if initial treatment has not shown any signs of significant progress and used for more advanced mental health issues. It consists of intensive therapies and occupational and trauma-focused therapies to treat substance misuse and physical health, amongst other areas which need support.
If you are looking for adventure breaks in the Southwest of England, our accessible site is situated in the peaceful and soothing countryside of Exmoor. For more information on our location, take a look at our blog on Six Top Accessible National Trusts Site in Devon.
Residential trips are an exciting time for all involved. To ensure the trip goes according to plan, preparation is key! Here at the Calvert Trust, we have created a list of recommended items to pack. We have also provided some extra tips to make sure you know what to expect when attending an activity break. For some advice on how to gear your child up for a school residential in Devon, take a look at our blog on How to Get Your Child Excited for a Residential Trip for some helpful ideas!
Look at the Weather Beforehand
Even though the weather tends to be temperamental, having a little look at the forecast can give a general idea of what to expect! Say for example a heatwave is expected, stocking up on sun protection, hats and sunglasses will be essential!
How Much to Pack?
Ideally, you will need to pack enough items to last the duration of the trip, and to be on the safe side, a few extra provisions. Take into account the types of activities you will be experiencing and if any of them will need extra clothing. For example, if the weather is a bit drizzly and bushcraft is on the agenda, an extra pair of socks for that day may be necessary. This is especially relevant for water-based activities like canoeing and sailing as well. It’s not uncommon to pack extra underwear items too.
Don’t Forget Toiletries!
This includes hairbrushes and combs too! For girls, its best to ensure you have any feminine hygiene products regardless of what is expected, just in case. If you do forget, our onsite shop sells them too. For some ideas on what to take, have a look at this list:
The Magic of Layering
When it comes to moderating temperature, layering your clothing is an effective way to do this. Unless the weather is unusually cold, we recommend packing numerous thinner jumpers and tops which can be worn together and removed as temperature increases instead of one thick jumper.
Please include attribution to https://calvertexmoor.org.uk/ with this graphic.
SPELL has been created by the National Autistic Society as a guideline to help people communicate and understand the needs of people who are on the autistic spectrum. Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe in making the world an accessible place for all. As a dedicated site that includes holidays for disabled visitors, we would like to spread awareness of autism to make life feel more accommodating for those who are affected by the disorder. In this article, we explain the SPELL structure and how it can help communications for those who have autism.
What is SPELL
SPELL has been created by integrating the five essential factors which have proven to be the most effective communicators for people with autism. SPELL aims to improve the lives of those with autism by providing surroundings that feel more considerate and approachable through accessible communications. It is a structure that can be applied throughout the autistic spectrum, such as Asperger syndrome.
SPELL is broken down into five letters, to explain the implications. These are:
Positive Approaches and Expectations
Below we will discuss each part more in-depth.
Providing a setting that feels structured, and doubtful of surprises, will help someone with Autism. The reason for this is because many people who have the condition do not react well to a change in routine.
Supplying information in a structured way is made easy with visual aids. These can be simple pictures and words of the daily routine, organised in a list. This can help someone with autism manage the expectations of the day by seeing them beforehand in a clear format. It can also help to reinstate a feeling of independence and control over a situation because expectations have been communicated, subsiding feelings of stress and nervousness.
Therefore, creating a safe and stable environment can significantly improve the overall wellbeing of someone with autism. Over time, when a routine is broken due to unavoidable change, someone with autism may be able to adapt to the changes due to the feelings of care from stability previously provided.
Positive Approaches and Expectations
By ensuring people feel encouraged and motivated to do well, progress can advance considerably for anyone who feels esteemed by positive comments and achievable goals. By creating realistic targets for people with autism, which are based on a thorough evaluation, a person can feel more confident through the recognition and development of the natural aptitudes of their personality.
For someone who has autism, this is incredibly important for them to feel a sense of accomplishment and the desire to further their abilities. The National Autistic Society states that many people who have autism struggle with verbal communication and therefore do not feel compelled to push themselves and progress in this proficiency. As a result of feeling of incompetent, the idea of trying something new is avoided even further. By practising how to overcome these scenarios, the sense of anxiety can be reduced. Eventually, people can acquire the ability to acknowledge new situations and set themselves higher goals that will support their overall wellbeing.
Empathy is a humans best route to understanding. By taking the time to think about how an individual with autism may see the world, it could potentially help you to unlock what may cause them anxiety as well as what may help them to communicate better. Those who are more successful in creating a trusting relationship with someone who has autism communicate in a relaxed, consistent, well humoured, logical and empathetic manner.
Environments should feel relaxed and well systematised to maintain a sense of focus and decrease the chance of distraction. This may include the level of volume in a room, smells, lighting, clear room layout and colour schemes. Any communications should remain clear enough so that they don’t overwhelm an individual. Some people with autism may need an increase of time to digest information, and this needs to be respected in any settings. Sensory rooms are used for those people who require extra support to feel calm. Each individual with autism will vary on this.
By viewing people with Autism and their support network as a unit, anyone who is significantly involved in their life such as parents, carers, siblings, teachers and medical professionals, should look to disperse information as a team to keep communications up. Parents should always be informed of all developments and situations, and are often viewed as partners. By keeping all involved on the same page, relevant information can flow, and any misinterpretations can be lessened.
Hopefully, this article has supported you in the understanding and the potential benefits of the National Autistic Society’s SPELL framework. If you would like more information about Autism, take a look at our article on Understanding Autism. Please take a look at our site for further information on our range of charity holidays for disabled people.