East Park Active Kids Club
A story by East Park
We held a summer club in July 2013 with a variety of activities and outings for young people to choose from. We are also offering an after school club four nights per week with escorted transport included. The summer club was extended by a week and exceeded its target for carers respite hours. 14 young people rather than the planned 12 attended.
The service was offered to young people with severe and complex disabilities, including learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, who attend East Park School and to young people who live at home and receive a small residential respite package of support.
There were two main streams to the project:
• A short summer programme of activities which will take place over the first three weeks of July 2013
• On-going after/out of school activities during term time.
Tip 1:Consult in advance with key people; young people, carers and other key professionals and maintain an open dialogue with them.
Tip 2:Plan carefully but remain flexible and encourage young people to lead on activities and choices.
Tip 3:Implement regular evaluation. Be ready to respond to carers and young people's expressed views. Remember to record informal and anecdotal views.
During the Summer Club one of the activities available to the young people was a programme of music therapy. Several of the young people attending the club have autism spectrum disorder. Sean, 9, is one of these. He is hypersensitive to sound. As there were plenty of discordant and unexpected sounds during the group music sessions, when some of the other young people were inquisitively trying out new instruments, he was initially very disinclined to participate. Despite this he gradually began to show an interest in the music sessions and ultimately stayed in the room and took part. When school started back after summer he was able to participate in school music sessions for the first time.
Last summer Ben attended our Summer Club. For his mother this turned a dreaded time of year into a more restful and productive period. Because he was being kept active at the club by the time he got home Ben was a little subdued and tired. At bedtime he settled and although he did not sleep all night he did sleep for around four hours, which was much longer than usual. Not only did his mother benefit from the rest while he was out at the club but this also gave her the opportunity to spend more time with Ben’s sister without interruptions which they both benefited from.
Danny is a 13 year old boy who lives with his gran. He has autism spectrum disorder. He really does not like change, preferring familiarity and a set routine. He can get very upset when his routine is not followed. When the summer club was offered his gran put his name down but did not think he would actually agree to attend. Towards the end of the school term the staff used a social story to tell Danny what he would be doing when school stopped. To his gran’s surprise when the familiar minibus turned up for him on the first day he did get in and went on to have a great day. He continued to attend giving his gran a well-earned break.
Kevin is a lively 10 year old with ADHD and a learning disability. He lives with his mother and father and big sister. His mum says he “never stops”. He is endearing and exhausting. She says school holidays are particularly hard as he is stuck indoors with her a lot of the time due to his propensity for taking off and running away when she does try taking him out. She says Kevin demands a lot of attention and for the duration of the school summer break she really cannot get much done. When we asked her what she did with her time while Kevin was at the summer club she said she just did “normal things” like giving the house a good clean, going to the supermarket without rushing and having a long relaxing bath with no interruptions. She said she really appreciated the chance to do these things and was more relaxed with Kevin and more able to cope when he arrived home at the end of the day.
The activities as well as being fun and stimulating were aimed at promoting the development of independence skills and encouraging young people to try new experiences and expand their social networks. This meant that for parents they could be confident that their child was enjoying a productive and stimulating experience with an appropriate peer group. We have received feedback from young people and carers via evaluation questionnaires.
We are aware that personalisation and self-directed support means that carers and young people now have more choice & control. We aim to respond to this by developing a service based on service user choice.
We have several young people who have ASD and limited or no verbal communication. Most of the young people need a great deal of support with daily living skills. Most have significant behavioural issues related to their learning disability and/or autism.