Autism is often referred to as ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is not one, but a range of disorders. Consequently, each individual who has autism has different levels of sensory sensitivity to one another.
The National Autistic Society has provided 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 Have Goals?
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.
Having goals can open up the opportunity to feel a sense of independence in certain aspects of our lives as they may offer us a sense of control. Lots of small goals over time have the potential to lead to changes beyond what we could have ever imagined from the initial journey we set ourselves.
Introducing Self-Care Goals
It is understood that adults who have autism can find the skill of organisation challenging. By using prompts and breaking down tasks to manageable steps, it can help introduce tasks to someone who has an autism as a priority.
This could be things such as :
• Getting dressed
• Brushing teeth
• Brushing hair
Keep Steps Small and Achievable
This is a method which the National Autistic Society has recommended. It is the process which teaches a skill in manageable steps. By breaking down a simple activity, it can help achieve the overall aim.
For example, 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 suggested by the National Autistic Society. This implements the steps of the task by working from the last step backwards.
Maintain a ‘Sensory Record’
As you try to introduce small goals, it is recommended to keep 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. Our blog 8 Receptive Toys to Aid Autism may offer some ideas on how to help ease some symptoms of anxiety for those who have autism.
An excellent way to implement things, especially to children, is to use illustrations. By leaving pictures as reminders, it may 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 to accompany 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.
This 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, you need to 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 be received with 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 there is ever a decline in looking after oneself, this could be a sign of some underlying issues concerning their mental health. This could be anything from anxiety or depression to forms of 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 Helpline Number: 0808 800 4104
They are available:
• Monday to Thursday 10 am-4 pm
• Friday 9 am-3 pm
Hopefully, the tips mentioned in this blog will offer some helpful pointers in accomplishing self-care goals! If you have any other recommendations, we would love to hear about them on our social media channels!
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, 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.
We provide daily timetables to ensure there is a set routine for our guests. We also encourage the use of our social areas, where guests can meet and support one another before and after sessions. We have great pride in all our professionally certified instructors, who encourage independence when supervising activities by using physical, gestural and verbal prompts.
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 e-mail us at email@example.com.
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.