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.
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.
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 come 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 Services for People with Disabilities
According the research by Scope, the life of a disabled person will, on average, cost an extra £583 a month when compared to those living without a disability. There are numerous costs that welfare alone can’t cover, leaving individuals and families left short.
However, there is support available for those that need it; once you know what you’re entitled to, there are numerous services designed to help those who are struggling to cover the costs of day-to-day life and save money.
According to the government, those with disabilities and long-term illnesses shouldn’t be charged VAT on essential items and the equipment that they rely on. This includes but is not limited to:
- Emergency alarms
- Specialist beds
- Building work for adjustments for handrails and ramps
- Installation costs, repairs and maintenance
To check what’s included, you can refer to the HMRC guide for more information.
It’s worth noting that it’s always best to check if the discount is available for the item before purchasing it. Also be aware that the discount is removed during purchase instead of reclaiming the VAT back afterwards.
Utility Bill Reduction
If you’re disabled or living with a disabled person, you can claim certain discounts on your utility.
If you have a medical condition that requires the use of a significant amount of water and are on benefits, you could potentially be eligible to pay the area’s average metered bill.
The scheme works by using a fitted water metre and capping your bill to the surrounding area’s average. If you use under the average, then you’ll only need to pay for what you’ve used.
To apply, all you need to do is speak to your water supplier and fill out a form. You will need evidence to support your application; this can include your awards notice of benefits and proof of your medical condition.
Warm Home Discount
To help support vulnerable customers who can’t afford their energy bills, this discount includes a credit of £140 on your energy bill, which will be credited between September and March.
To be eligible, you will need to either have a low income, receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or get means-tested benefits like universal credit. There is a limited amount available each year, so the scheme works on a first-come-first-served basis.
Reduced Council Tax
Council tax is calculated on the size of the property. However, being disabled can often require extra space, such as a large washroom or space to allow access for wheelchairs and specialist equipment. Be sure to ask your local council about the Disabled Band Reduction scheme to see if you could be entitled to a reduced council tax bill.
If you have been diagnosed with SMI and are living alone, you won’t need to pay council tax. However, if you live with another adult, you can gain a 25% discount.
Disabled Student Allowance
If your disability affects your studies, you can apply for DSA. To apply, you need to be in either full or part-time education for at least a year. The allowance is intended to help cover the costs incurred from studying with a disability.
You can apply for DSA when applying for other student finance, such as tuition and maintenance fees. If you’re not applying for other loans, you’ll need to download a DSA1 application form, which can be found on the Student Finance website.
Students that are eligible for the NHS Disabled Students’ Allowance won’t be able to also apply for DSA.
A medical condition or physical disability can exempt you from paying the standard prescription charge; for this, you will need a valid medical exemption certificate.
You can collect a form from your doctor; the application process should take around two weeks. Between applying and receiving your medical exemption certificate, you can apply for a refund on your purchased prescriptions. But be sure to ask for an FP57 refund receipt when paying.
Reduced Rates at Libraries
Some libraries will offer lower rates for bookings and borrowings for disabled people. You will usually find free or cheaper audio-visual material available for disabled people. Sadly, this is not a service that is required, so not all libraries will offer it. Get in touch with your local council to find out what particular discounts are available.
Some local authorities offer a free delivery service for disabled and housebound people, which is worth finding out more about if you are unable to visit your local library.
Reduced Travel Tariffs
Fortunately, there are discount schemes when it comes to travel, which can help make life that little bit easier.
The Blue Badge allows holders to park their car at reduced rates or park in exclusive areas that offer better mobility and accessibility. Blue Badges also offer other benefits, such as parking on double yellow lines if the car isn’t blocking access or creating an obstruction.
Most public car parks will allow Blue Badge holders to park for free during certain periods. However, this will need to be double-checked.
Those with “hidden” disabilities, such as anxiety or dementia, can now get a Blue Badge. However, the eligibility does vary; you can find further information at GOV.UK.
Disabled bus passes are available to apply for through your local council, or you can apply for discounted bus travel.
Those living in London can apply for a Freedom Pass, which allows free travel across the city, including the use of the tube, busses and rail journeys.
Rail & Coach Travel
Disabled railcards provide a lot of savings, which can quickly add up. Annually, they will cost £20, but you will receive a third off of your travel at any time. When travelling with a carer, they will also receive a third off of their fare.
The National Express Disabled Coachcard is priced at a reduced amount of £12.50, but this may also incur an extra P&P charge of £2.50. Like the railcard, the coach card also offers a third off of your travel fare.
To receive the cards, you will need to prove your eligibility; commonly accepted evidence includes proof of receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or are registered as having a hearing or visual impairment.
We hope this article has proven to be a helpful resource. As proud providers of holidays for people with disabilities, supporting those with disabilities and their families is at the heart of what we do.
For more information about The Calvert Experience, please get in touch with our friendly team.
5 Free Apps to Help Cope with Anxiety
Feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed are not uncommon and should not go unaddressed. Many of us experience anxiety and stress, especially during times of uncertainty and change – how can we manage these feelings and develop a more healthy mindset?
As a Devon charity and trust, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we understand how important it is to address mental health struggles and support each other. This is why we have collated some great apps and free resources to help you cope with anxiety and learn some skills to rest and relax the mind even when that feels like an uphill battle.
If you are experiencing more severe issues, please consult a mental healthcare professional.
For more advice, you can also refer to our blog on places you can turn to when you need support:
Developed as a joint project from the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester, this app is a simple mood diary, allowing you to record your changing moods and feelings.
By tracking how your feelings shift, the app aims to teach you how to manage anxiety and stress, illustrating new ways to view problems and develop positive ways of coping.
Through questions and guidance, Catch It supports you as you make sense of your moods – users have described how useful this can often be when trying to feel calmer.
This free app hosts a library of guided meditations designed to help users relax and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
The guided sessions are led by world-renowned mindfulness experts and psychologists. You will also have access to thousands of music tracks and ambient soundscapes to help you fall asleep or quiet your mind.
There are more than 1,500 meditations tailored specifically to dealing with anxiety.
Stress & Anxiety Companion
This one is great for individuals with mild to moderate anxiety and stress levels.
With techniques built around cognitive behavioural therapy, the app uses an array of breathing exercises, mindfulness games and relaxing music designed to help you set positive goals and routines and manage problematic thinking.
The Stress & Anxiety Companion is all about helping you identify why you’re feeling anxious or stressed and learning how to manage these negative thoughts.
Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)
This engaging and practical app is a helpful resource for those that want to confront their anxiety and really learn how to manage it.
SAM helps you understand the causes behind your anxiety and gives you tools to monitor changing moods, thoughts and behaviours.
Through the various available self-help exercises and reflections, you can learn how to develop healthy thought patterns and actions.
This free app is designed to help users cope with depression, anxiety, stress and more.
With a range of cognitive behaviour therapy and acceptance commitment therapy methods, the app provides actionable advice on overcoming negative thinking patterns, helps you put your feelings into perspective and gives tips on staying grounded during times of stress.
You can also use the diary to record thoughts and learn how to keep calm with effective breathing exercises.
Again, it should be noted that these apps should not be considered a replacement for professional help – but they can be great aids for boosting general mental health and wellbeing!
Taking to nature and enjoying activities outdoors can also work wonders for mental wellbeing and self-confidence. To find out more about how adventure breaks could help improve mental health, take a look at our blog below:
For more information about the Calvert Experience and the disability activities we offer, please get in touch.
Encouraging Your Child to Make Friends on an Activity Trip
There are many benefits of visiting an activity centre like ours, such as helping with anxiety or improving mental health. An activity break can also give your child a chance to make new friends, helping to improve their confidence in making friends elsewhere.
Talking to new people can be scary whatever your age, yet for many children connecting with others can be difficult or frightening, especially if they have disabilities. To help, here is our guide to encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip…
Encourage them before travelling
It can often be beneficial to prepare your children for their trip, from helping them pack to talking about the exciting activities and fun games they’ll be doing.
You could also mention that other children will be there too, possibly doing activities in your group or sitting near you during meals.
You could then suggest that your child talks to the other children, or give them a positive goal, like to find out other people’s names.
Some children may be anxious about this idea, some may not understand the point, whilst others will look forward to it. Whatever your child’s reaction, listen to their response and give them gentle encouragement to interact with others.
Doing this before your arrival gives them time to process the information and be more prepared to communicate with others.
Work out some ‘opening lines’ together
It may be a good idea to practice saying hello in various ways, especially if you predict your child will need extra encouragement to make friends. To assist them further, try to create some opening lines or questions your child could use to start a conversation.
Examples could be ‘My name is- what is yours?’ or ‘I like your jumper’ or ‘What did you enjoy about today?‘
Practising and rehearsing social skills in a safe and warm environment will support your child by teaching social cues. Planning out what they could say can make them feel that bit more prepared to meet new people.
Lead by example and encourage them to follow
Once you have arrived for your activity break, strive to speak to others in a friendly manner so that your children can pick up on it and possibly follow your example.
You could even use the opening lines you created to show them how they can progress and add prompts for your children to contribute or carry on the conversation.
By modelling positive, friendly behaviours, you can guide your children to do the same.
Talk to them about feelings and encourage empathy
Parents can help children develop social skills during a short activity break by focusing on feelings and empathy, which will help build friendships.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Developing feelings and empathy is a complex process that starts from birth and continues throughout our lives, but it is a key factor in making friends.
- Identify feelings, both positive and negative – It’s important to put a name to what your child might be feeling whenever you can. Saying something as simple as, ‘You seem happy/excited/joyful/upset/angry/scared‘ helps a child identify what they are feeling in themselves and can be all they to hear to express their emotions
- Identify feelings in others – In the same way, saying ‘That person seems happy/angry‘ helps children see emotions in others and allows them to identify with them. This can be developed further by using them as conversation starters.
Use feelings to start conversations
During an activity break, giving children prompts increases empathy and provides an opportunity to start a conversation, laying the groundwork for friendship.
For example: ‘They seem happy they did the activity, why don’t you say well done and ask them what they enjoyed the most?’ or ‘That child looks upset, perhaps they are scared of doing the activity. What would you say to them?‘
Likewise, questions related to negative feelings could also allow them to start a chat and connect.
If these prompts lead nowhere, that’s fine. It’s best to not force the situation further, instead make suggestions and allow the children to connect in their own way if they wish to.
Notice and praise caring behaviour
Whether with your prompts or not, make a point of praising your child when they show empathy and engage in a caring way.
You could say how proud you are when you see them being kind and thoughtful to others. State why it was positive behaviour and talk about how it might have made the other person feel.
Positive reinforcement will give them belief in themselves and motivate them to do it again, hopefully increasing the bond between children.
Other issues that children often struggle with are sharing and taking turns. Or they may have difficulty being in a team. When they get these things right, however, it will increase their social skills.
Adventure activities can often be a combination of group work and solo participation. So an activity break is a perfect opportunity to practise their sharing skills and general communication with others.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have groups no bigger than 10 people, meaning it’s easy for children to talk to others and participate in group activities.
Highlight when and how they shared correctly or gave help to others. They may not have realised they’ve done something positive, so nice comments on how they behaved will support their future interactions.
Experts recommend providing immediate positive feedback, that’s kept brief and simple.
Encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip – Summary
- Prepare them before the trip so they have time to process the fact other children will be there to talk to
- Practise greeting others and prepare some opening lines
- Lead by example and start conversations, aim to include your child
- Identify positive and negative feelings in other children
- Guide your child to relate to other people’s feelings and to use empathy to prompt them to start a conversation
- When you see your children exhibiting friendly or caring behaviours, such as sharing and taking turns, praise them – this encourages children to repeat the positive behaviours
Finally, parents shouldn’t place social expectations on children and force friendships to emerge from nowhere. They could make one or two good friends during their stay with no need to worry about them being the most popular kid on site.
With over 25 years of adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor, many children have come out of their shell and made new friends during their stay. Sometimes with help from the ideas above, and sometimes all on their own.
However your children make new friends on an activity trip, it is a magical moment that makes the stay even more worthwhile.
We welcome many families time and time again, on weekend and midweek breaks. They come for the activities and facilities, and also for the chance to meet new people. See more about our family breaks in Devon for additional information.
Residential trips are an opportunity for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Yet for a parent, watching your child leave for a residential can be a daunting or worrying experience. Many parents wonder how their child will behave and will they be safe?
In this news piece, we hope to ease your worries with guidance on how to keep your child safe on a residential trip, even if you will not be by their side…
Learn about the residential
It’s essential to carefully plan for a residential, which starts with knowing all the details. Teachers or group leaders will be arranging the trip but parents, guardians or carers should be involved in several ways.
You could talk to the people planning the residential. Schools commonly hold pre-trip meetings to inform and take questions. If not, consider contacting them directly.
It can seem scary entrusting your children in someone else’s care. So knowing timings, travelling plans, locations and sleeping arrangements will settle your nerves. You can also inform the residential leaders of important information about your child to keep them safe and well.
Talk with your child about their trip
When you have all the details about the residential, you can pass it on to your child in a way they will understand. This helps them get excited whilst also contributing to their safety on the trip as they will be better prepared.
Talk them through where they are going, what they will be doing, and how days will be structured. Listen to any concerns they may have and add reassurance.
Perhaps your child is nervous or unsure about going? The more your child talks about it, the better they will feel. We have compiled some extra tips on how to get them excited for a residential trip.
Discuss safety and boundaries
Another area of discussion is what they must do to keep safe.
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with the group – close to their teacher, group leader or other authority figures, such as activity instructors.
It can be helpful to explain that a residential is fun and thrilling but that they still need to follow the same rules they follow when at home, at school or walking on the pavement.
It’s often beneficial to add extra boundaries unique to their residential. Examples could be emphasising that they must stay in the centre, or that they can’t use the activity facilities until told to by an instructor.
The more conversations you have, the better children will understand the rules, even though you won’t be there to supervise them.
Check out the location
If you know where the residential is taking place, why not spend time with your child looking at it online? Search for the location and see what comes up. There may be galleries on their website or good images on the search engine to go through.
If brochures or itineraries are available, you could go through them together to help get your child excited. Plus it gives you extra opportunities to establish the rules of the trip. If there are maps or plans of the grounds and accommodation, use them to set boundaries, showing where they can and cannot go.
Pack their bags as a team
Get your child involved in the packing of their bags. Since you both know what the residential involves, you can ensure they have everything needed for a good time whilst looking after themselves.
Depending on their age and abilities, kids can contribute in different ways. Let younger ones see what you are packing and explain why each item and piece of clothing is essential. They could then add fun and comforting extras, such as a toy, book or accessories.
Older children could pack their bags themselves, with supervision and guidance if needed. This teaches them to plan ahead, increases independence, and makes them think of their own wellbeing and safety.
Packing together reassures them, and you, that they have everything needed to feel prepared, safe and secure.
See our guide on things to pack for a residential trip.
Make them stand out
One more point about packing is to dress your children in brightly coloured clothes that stand out and avoid dark colours that will blend into surroundings. This will make them easy to see and remember in a crowd or against a natural backdrop.
The colour of their clothing is unlikely to be an issue during a Calvert Trust Exmoor visit, as activity groups are small and supervised by the same instructor throughout. But elsewhere on other residentials, it may be beneficial for their safety.
Make sure contact details are up to date
Confirm that the group leaders have your correct contact details before the residential. Provide one or two additional emergency numbers if you may not be reachable – just in case.
Have faith in risk assessments
Schools and residential leaders will have your child’s safety as their highest priority. They will conduct rigorous risk assessments for every activity and location, whether it be a day out or week away.
A risk assessment must be carried out for each residential, which will help teachers identify and remove any of the potential risks. Schools must adhere to set staffing to child ratios and will keep individual physical, medical, social and behavioural needs in mind before and during a residential.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan to follow if an accident or incident occurs during a trip.
Plus, residential centres have their unique risk assessments and safety procedures with trained staff and instructors who also have everyone’s safety as their highest priority.
Many sites are also audited or inspected by independent boards. For instance, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we have…
- The Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
- Five-star activity accommodation status awarded by Visit England
- Been certified by activity bodies such as British Canoeing, the British Horse Society, and more
Residential breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At our activity centre we welcome children of all ages and specialise in accessible breaks for people with physical, learning, sensory or behavioural disabilities. Our residential breaks are based at our remote centre in North Devon, meaning the group stays safely inside the grounds away from busy roads.
The stay will include activities throughout the day, then access to group swimming sessions, the sensory room, and social areas in the evening. Activities, accommodation, meals and facilities are all on-site and included in the costs.
Wherever they are visiting, keeping your child safe on a residential break starts with good communication and ensuring children understand what they should and should not do to keep themselves safe. The residential leaders and centre staff will take it from there to make sure everyone has a wonderful break.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe that every child should have access to adventure activities, especially children with disabilities. Therefore, we strive to provide the very best adventure breaks possible and encourage children of all abilities to visit our accessible centre in Devon.
Adventure activities of any kind are fun, exciting and educational. They encourage being outdoors, doing exercise and making friends. Plus adventure breaks help build independence and personal growth. The overall benefits are vast and ongoing, whatever the circumstances.
But did you know we’re the only disability centre of our kind in the south of England? Which means visiting us has its unique advantages. Here are the benefits of visiting Calvert Trust Exmoor for a child with a disability…
They will be well looked after
Everyone’s safety and happiness should be a top priority during an adventure break. So we have published some tips for choosing an accessible activity holiday to ensure you can get your dream break.
At the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, we can guarantee every child will be cared for equally, enjoying the same experiences as those around them. Our friendly staff will support parents and carers to look after everyone at all times. During activities, the highly trained instructors tailor the sessions so those with mild to complex disabilities can do the same as each other.
Children can enjoy all the facilities on-site, from watching TV to swimming to enjoying a meal. With everything in one place, children are surrounded by others to ensure they are looked after.
In our experience, when a child with a disability feels looked after, included and equal, they enjoy a sense of freedom and independence and have a wonderful time.
They will do new activities
There are plenty of activities adapted for all, such as abseiling, climbing, horse riding, canoeing, cycling, and much more. Some of these activities are only available for people with disabilities at specialist activity centres like ours.
Many guests visit for the first time questioning if the activities are do-able for a child with a disability. They are then pleasantly surprised when they see children doing tasks they didn’t think possible.
“Beth went abseiling…! I mean it’s a hard thing for Beth to focus walking downstairs but for her to walk down an almost vertical wall was completely emotional to watch her achieve something even I had limited her to not being able to do.”
– from Beth and Grace’s guest story
There are many benefits for a child successfully taking part in an activity they’ve never done before…
They will overcome nerves and fears
It’s only natural that children will feel nervous about doing an activity for the first time, and part of the experience is overcoming their worries and fears.
Their designated instructors will make children feel safe, giving thorough instructions in a way they can understand.
“Our instructor was incredible. He gave Edward the confidence to do every single activity, even the zip wire, which from our arrival, Edward was determined he wouldn’t be confident enough to do.”
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement when guests do an activity they enjoyed or achieved something they may not have thought possible. Which improves confidence and self-belief.
They will develop and grow
For schools, we have another news piece that discusses why learning outside the classroom is important. Yet the points discussed benefit all children taking part in outdoor and indoor adventure activities.
For many disabled children, being outside doing activities has the following benefits…
- Adaption to new situations and building resilience – Overcoming any difficulties or nerves may be their first taste of resilience, which is considered a crucial part of developing self-confidence
- Gaining a sense of responsibility and independence – Activity breaks give children new responsibilities, like taking care of their belongs, asking for their meals, or putting on a safety helmet. This will build on their sense of independence as they aim to do each thing correctly.
- Developing problem-solving skills, motor skills and co-ordination – The activities on offer encourage physical movements, which help develop both gross and fine motor skills. We understand that not every child can move some or all of their body, but where possible activities are adapted to accommodate their abilities.
- Building trust and communication – At Calvert Trust Exmoor, guests do activities with the same group and instructor throughout their stay. Everyone bonds to ensure that individuals are comfortable and that each person knows what they are doing in activities. So guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them. This leads to building trust and communication.
- Making new friends – By building trust and communication skills, many children learn how to interact with others during their stay and may even make new friends.
They will feel ongoing benefits
It’s well documented that physical exercise and being outdoors has positive and lasting benefits. Studies show physical outdoor activity lowers blood pressure, improves short-term memory, helps fight off illnesses and improves mental wellbeing. Read our news piece How an Adventure Break Can Improve Mental Health for more detail on this.
Residential experiences provide opportunities and benefits that cannot be achieved anywhere else. Advantages include academic success, general happiness and good wellbeing.
They can look forward to visiting the centre
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, including accessible holidays in Devon, and the build-up to a visit to Calvert Trust Exmoor can also have big benefits.
For example – the anticipation can lead to a more positive outlook. The act of choosing what to take and packing bags can increase focus. Discussing what the stay will involve could help improve communication. We also have tips available for things to pack and how to get your child excited if you need them.
Whether visiting for the first time or coming back for another stay, each child will gain benefits unique to them during their time at the centre. Join us soon to discover the benefits of visiting Calvert Trust Exmoor for a child with a disability.
If you would like to book a break with us or have a question about an upcoming visit, please phone us on 01598 763221 and the team will be willing to help.
Don’t forget that our breaks include activities, accommodation, meals, use of the facilities and more.