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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Going on holiday is an exciting time for all! If you are planning to travel with a person who has special needs, you may feel like travelling greater distances can come with challenges. Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, we feel that holidays for people with disabilities should be made achievable wherever possible. If you are planning a getaway with a family member or a friend who have special needs, we have some tips you can take to ensure a smoother journey!
Have Back-Up Plans and Precautions
As you would expect, planning well in advance and pre-planning any unexpected situations are hugely beneficial when trying to organise travel. Discussing all issues beforehand with all necessary participants is a must as you can decipher any vital problems with travelling and accommodate around them. Therefore, make sure you know what to do in the incident of an emotional breakdown. By having a plan in place, you will spend less time worrying about what could go wrong and more confident in managing emergencies.
One of the most important aspects to consider is how you will cope if a medical emergency occurs. If you require medical attention, how will you do this, and what will be your course of action? It is good to note down any special needs or medical conditions. This may include contacts, care plan and their history.
Secondly, ensuring you have all the required medical documents for travel is vital. It may be that you need individual confirmations of their condition and any equipment while on the move. A Doctor’s letter is top of the list. If travelling abroad, you could try to get hold of the document in the language of the country you are visiting, if necessary. Secondly, a copy of any prescriptions, also in both languages. Any medical insurance documents are essential, alongside the number for the emergency medical helpline.
Before you embark on your adventure, it is essential to think about the condition your passenger may be coping with and how travelling may affect them and in what way. For example, will an alteration in noise and sensation affect your passenger? If so, you need to deliberate how you can ease this change in scenery for the comfort of the traveller.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard
The sunflower lanyard was initially launched at Gatwick Airport and is now endorsed by the majority of railway companies, airports, NHS locations and supermarkets across the UK. The sunflower lanyard is a form of communication for people with disabilities that are not noticeably clear to signal that assistance may be necessary. It is a useful thing to have, and we would recommend its use while travelling, especially on public transport.
Talking to companies you plan to travel with is essential. Each section further in the article will go into further detail on this topic.
Tips for Car Journeys
If you are travelling by vehicle, you may need to look into what modifications you need to include for a disabled traveller. As previously mentioned, preparation is key, especially with any behavioural issues. Ensure you have a simple piece of paper with a list of medicines, contact details for medical support and any other information. Make sure to check out where the accessibility service stations are allocated on your route and ensure all comfort and stress relievers are packed in the car, just in case!
Tips for Travelling by Train
Inform stations if you, or someone with you, are travelling with a disability so they can help you on your arrival. It is also essential to note down any platform changes and where accessible toilets will be located in the station. You should be able to find this out when you inform the company. If you are travelling with a child, show them pictures to familiarise them with what the journey will entail. If possible, avoiding the heaviest hours of traffic should reduce the stress of the journey for all involved! Ensure all comfort blankets and toys have been packed too in case of an upset. If you happen to come across a friendly member of staff who is happy to talk about the journey, this can also help to ease any anxiety.
Tips for Travelling by Plane
Firstly, contacting the airline is a must. You can explain the needs of passenger travelling. Any procedures in the case of an emergency and the equipment necessary to accompany the individual onboard can be confirmed. Obtaining written permission from the correct medical professional is essential and needs to be with the guardian at all times. This should be used to ensure that equipment and medication can be taken on the flight. Before the flight, make sure to explain the small size of toilets, so the person is aware of the circumstances before the experience. Once you are at the airport, heading over to the appropriate airport staff is essential to help a smooth check-in.
Hopefully, we have eased some concerns you may have when trying to plan travel arrangements with an individual with special needs. For more inspiration on where to visit on your next holiday, take a look at our blog on Six of the Top Accessible National Trust Sites in Devon.
The National Trust is an independent charity dedicated to preserving the nation’s most beautiful dwellings. It focuses on maintaining buildings, but also gardens, nature reserves, coastline and countryside. With such an expanse of locations, it is almost an impossible task to select the best. We have concentrated this blog purely on the area of Devon, as it is close to our hearts and is filled with many scenic sites and locations.
Salcombe Hill is a prominent part of the coastline, situated on the South coast of Devon. The stunning, rustic cliffside dominates the landscape, and it is no surprise the area is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The spot is an ideal location for a short, easy adventure, just under one mile in length. The route is maintained in perfect condition and consists of gravel paths, making it a fantastic course for wheelchair users or families with pushchairs. Located near Sidmouth, the area provides gorgeous views of Ladrum Bay and High Peak. Be sure to take a picnic to really take your time and enjoy the view.
A popular site in Devon, Killerton is perfect for an exciting day out with a variation of activities. Constructed during the 18th-century, the Killerton estate consists of a stunning Georgian house surrounded by beautiful woods, parkland and farmland, stretching to 6,400 acres in area. The top places to see include a charming garden, fashion exhibition and the old chapel. There is an all-terrain tramper that can be hired for the day but booking well in advance is necessary as it is in high demand.
Located in between two popular surf spots, Croyde and Putsborough, this magnificent section of coastline is an admired national trust location. Loved by many, Baggy Point provides the most stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean as the dramatic rock formation stretches out to sea. The surrounding sea is mesmerising in any condition and is a beautiful spot to take in, while in calm or rough waters. The west side of the point, reachable via Croyde, is an excellent, accessible route, here you may see seals if you’re lucky! The path is well maintained and level, ideal for wheelchairs, trampers and pushchairs.
Castle Droggo is a distinctive castle situated in amongst the dramatic backdrop of Dartmoor. The mighty castle overlooks the atmospheric Teign Gorge and provides an absorbing and fascinating visit for anyone who goes there. A tramper is also available in this site, which is fantastic for anyone who would like to explore the gorge. At the top of the gorge, lies a stunning view of Dartmoor and the proceeding valley. Again, this is also a top-rated site, so booking well in advance is a necessity.
This charming location is situated in the surrounding area of Bovey Tracey. It is a delightful estate, consisting of beautiful beehives, fields, vegetable gardens, orchards and fruit gardens. The idyllic fish pond, in particular, is a pleasant area to relax. If you fancy a little stroll through the gardens or would like to explore further afield in the majestic woodlands, there is something to satisfy everyone.
Hiring the tramper here is free, but donations are appreciated.
The undeniable charm of this stunning gorge lies in the impressive 30m waterfall. You will not be disappointed by the array of beautiful plantation along the river and captivating woodland surrounding the area. It is a magical destination whether in winter or summer seasons, each attractive in their own way.
If you require a tramper, the Lydford Gorge tramper is only available between March and October due to a reduction in Winter staff. It is recommended to book the tramper two days in advance to ensure there is a trained member of team onsite. There are a couple of routes you can take around the gorge; both require accompanied users for safety precautions. One will take you to the bottom of the Whitelady Waterfall. The second is a charming route along the old railway.
We hope we have provided you with some inspiring ideas for your next accessible holiday in Devon. If you would like to learn more about our very own accessible holiday breaks, take a look at our blog on How Can an Adventure Break Improve Confidence for a Disabled Child? for more information.