A story by Lothian Autistic Society
We provided 44 2 hour sessions (2 each week for 22 weeks) for children with autism to play and socialise with their peers while their carers had a break from caring.
What Grow, Play did
Grow, Play is for autistic children of aged between 5 and 14. Staff recruitment was completed in December 2016 and staff received an induction and core training in January 2017 prior to the project start on 31 January. The project was delivered by 11 staff comprising a Project Lead, Deputy and 9 sessional Playworkers.
Beneficiaries were recruited through local special schools, Playschemes and local third sector organisations from responses to a flyer distributed through the various channels. 22 children were offered places, all stayed with the project for the duration, which comprised two 2 hour sessions each for 11 children.
The first group (from 16:30 to 18:30) was for younger children (aged 6 -10, with an average age of 9), the second group (from 18:45 to 20:45) for older children (aged 9 -14, average age 12). They ran for 22 weeks during school terms, with the final session on June 27th. Parents brought their children to the sessions and collected them at the end of the session, giving them valuable time to pursue other interests.
Each session had a structured plan. The first session identified an agreed set of rules for the other sessions which were based on strengthening social interactions and mutual respect. The second session reinforced this and then comprised a number of activities to help the children get to know each other. Subsequent sessions covered Self Control, finding things in common, Sharing and Turn taking, Communication, Trust, Teamwork, Teamsports, Emotions, Decision Making and friendship. Most themes were delivered over two weeks. At the end Children and their parents were asked to complete a structured evaluation of the project.
Comment from parent of C (9): C has had an amazing time. His confidence has grown and he has been able to show his emotions and he can understand other people’s emotions,”
What Lothian Autistic Society has learnedIt has been extremely helpful to have funding for a project in East Lothian. We have not been able to secure funding through the local authority for a similar service and the opportunity afforded by support through Better Breaks has allowed to develop something that is highly valued by children and their parents in the area. We have focused part of our general fundraising on supporting the continuation of the project for next year.
We have developed better links with schools in East Lothian, which will allow us to engage more with children and families in delivering more services in the local authority area over the coming year. We have identified significant demand for the services we provide in East Lothian and will be working to extend provision over the next year.