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.
Learning outside the classroom allows children to acknowledge skills that they may not know they have. It is the opportunity to try something new, in a safe and exciting environment. The world opens out beyond the classroom, and concepts and learning processes become literal.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide a range of accessible holidays, including residential school trips as well as charity holidays for the disabled in Devon. We believe that outdoor learning and activities can liberate people and has the possibility of improving their well-being.
In this article, we will discuss why learning outside the classroom is essential to help in the development of children.
Children Can Experience Resilience
Being outside the classroom is a whole new experience. Children have to adapt to the outdoor conditions and absorb further instructions which directly apply to the outdoor environment. Their brains are engaged in a different way and the understanding of new safety instructions have to be processed.
It is a new kind of challenge, and depending on the activity, may feel slightly nerve-wracking. While this may sound negative, overcoming these difficulties may be their first taste of resilience, which is considered a crucial part of developing self-confidence.
By conquering their fears outdoors, learning to persevere and believing in one’s ability can be taken back to the classroom and applied to academic learning.
It Gives Children a Sense of Responsibility and Independence
A break from the school environment may feel like an exciting experience and give children a sense of independence by being away from home, if on a residential trip. Children can have the chance to take responsibility for their belongings, for example.
In effect, this will build on their sense of independence because they may become more self-aware, taking into account and preparing for their own needs and requirements for the activities.
If your child feels anxious about a residential trip, our news piece on How to Get Your Child Excited for a Residential Trip has some handy hints and tips which may help!
It Offers a Different, Engaging Space
A repetitive week inside the classroom for the duration of the school year can become a bit tedious. By experiencing challenges outside the academic setting, it may reset the attention and engagement of pupils.
It firstly gives students something to look forward to and is a way to break up the work in the classroom. Secondly, it offers a range of activities they may not have tried before, freshly testing their brains as previously mentioned.
It Helps to Form Relationships
Experiencing new activities outside brings the class or group together as everyone will tend to be in a similar situation of trying something new. As a result, outdoor classrooms are a platform for children to support one another and offer advice from their experience of the activity.
As a result, these relationships may be taken back to the classroom as the experience acts as a point of reference for children to think back to, and ultimately cherish. Not only does this affect peers, but also the teacher to student relationship.
Seeing the teacher in a similar circumstance, learning and engaging with a qualified instructor, may help children relate to the teacher and understand it is ok to embrace the new situation with whatever feelings accompany it.
Being Outdoors is Healthy
There have been numerous studies about the effects of the great outdoors on humans.
One of the health benefits which sticks out the most is related to the mental impact for humans to be outdoors. A study completed by the UEA’s Norwich Medical School revealed that when we see the greenery of nature, stress levels reduced significantly. See our article on How an Adventure Break Can Improve Mental Health for more information on this.
Furthermore, blood pressure and heart rate also both decreased.
The activities at Calvert Trust Exmoor all involve some sort of basic exercise, which means that the body gets a workout alongside mental wellbeing.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing exciting opportunities for all residents at our accessible site in Devon.
We would love to hear your thoughts about the advantages of learning outside the classroom. Let us know on our social media channels!