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 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 the Calvert Trust, 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 these fears outdoors, learning to persevere and believe 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 is feeling anxious about an upcoming residential trip, our blog 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, it is 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. Furthermore, blood pressure and heart rate also both decreased. For further information on the health benefits of activity breaks, our blog How Can an Adventure Break Improve Self Confidence for a Disabled Child? discusses the topic further.
Here at the 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!
Five Benefits of Surfing for People with a Disability
Surfing is a highly active sport that requires the focus of both mind and body. Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe everyone should have a chance to experience and enjoy such a fun sport. Our accessible site is idyllically located near the beautiful North Devon coastal village of Croyde, where we offer surfing as an offsite activity. We are in proud partnership with both Surf South West and the Wave Project and are excited to include surfing into our current list of accessible activities. The lessons will be a step above our regular sessions, and instead of having ten people to one instructor, one to one sessions will be available for our guests.
A dedicated charity to surf therapy, an impressive 2239 young people have been involved in Wave Project courses to date. The Wave Project believes that surfing can help children and adults with disabilities, mainly by improving their feelings of anxiousness through surfing. In this article, we would like to explore how surfing benefits those who attend the sessions.
Surf Therapy Research
As a relatively recent breakthrough, surf therapy has not been thoroughly researched. However, there have been a couple of examples such as the University of Rhode Island’s study on the ‘Benefits of Surfing for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study’ in 2012. The study discusses how limited participation in physical activities has a wide range of adverse effects, including increased obesity and secondary health problems down the line. It also touches on the psychological impact of not completing activities for people with a disability. Our article will go on to discuss its findings on why surfing should be used to combat this.
The Wave Project also produces a yearly evaluation, which is based on the completion of questionnaires answered by participants before and after they attend a surf session, focussing on feelings of self-belief. It also advocates that providing people with disabilities the access to complete exciting and challenging activities should be wholeheartedly encouraged for both the positive mental and physical implications it can have, as our article will explore.
It Can Improve Physical Fitness
Surfing is widely acknowledged as an intense form of exercise which involves healthy levels of aerobic activity. The 2012 study by the University of Rhode Island found that overall, surfing improved the physical wellbeing of the participants, especially in terms of their upper-body strength and their levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The reference to cardiorespiratory fitness is especially relevant to children who have physical disabilities, as it is understood that it is generally relatively low compared to those children who do not have disabilities. As a result, the study suggests that surfing is beneficial for the physical improvement for those who have disabilities.
It Offers Dedicated One to One Time
An essential part of the surf therapy sessions at the Wave Project is to ensure each attendee is looked after in a one to one environment. Where this arrangement understandably assists in health and safety precautions, it also helps to form trusting relationships between the attendees and the dedicated volunteers. One to one time with the Wave Project volunteers has been described as one of the most meaningful parts of the experience by the children who attend the surf therapy sessions with the charity. The surf therapy experience can feel enriched due to the high level of interactive instructing devoted to the children. Furthermore, it can limit distractions as outside pressures are contained in a one to one environment. This set up also encourages attendees to rely on themselves to achieve the activity under the supervision of volunteers. As a result, it may enhance feelings of independence due to the encouragement while being in a stable and committed environment.
It Provides Social Inclusion
The 2018 Wave Project Evaluation also emphasises the feeling of social inclusion which has emerged from the network of people attending the sessions. It is a sense of community that not only applies to the participants who complete the therapy but also their parents, carers and the volunteers. Some of the volunteers initially participated at the Wave Project as attendees themselves and with this empathy in mind, have successfully created an incredibly welcoming and understanding environment. Furthermore, because of the energetic nature of the activity, the friendship between instructor and child can blossom, and children don’t feel as distant as they may do in a school environment, for example.
It Supports Feelings of Confidence and Self Belief
Both research by the University of Rhode Island and the 2018 Wave Project Evaluation suggests how taking part in an organised activity has the ability to improve self-esteem. The Wave Project Evaluation in particular, found that the relationship formed between child and volunteer encouraged the sense of belonging, and therefore produced the feeling of acceptance. These feelings are incredibly important in improving a person’s self-esteem and personal perception. By sparking these feelings towards oneself, confidence can improve, and the desire to challenge oneself is boosted.
It Provides a Challenging but Fun Experience
Surfing is a truly unique sport, and teaches so many skills including balance, as well as furthering water knowledge. The Wave project discloses different stories in their Report, which emphasises the fascination and pride participants feel when completing a session. One parent from Devon describes how their child goes to school feeling elated by the fact they surf and other classmates are not familiar with the sport.
For inspiration on accessible holidays in Devon, take a look at the dedicated adventure breaks we provide. If your child is already attending an activity break, and you would like some guidance on how to get your child excited for a residential trip, take a look at our blog!