Game On East Ayrshire
A story by The National Autistic Society
The Game On Project supported people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder into suitable sport and leisure activities across East Ayrshire. It was delivered from the National Autistic Society’s East Ayrshire One Stop Shop.
What Game On East Ayrshire did
With assistance from our Area Volunteering Development Manager, volunteers were recruited and trained by Project Coordinator who continually recruited new volunteers for the length of the Project. Taster sessions were organized for members for each of the groups. The Project Co-coordinator developed and delivered four groups per week. These were Multi-skills, OSS Gaming, Lego Therapy (Bi-weekly), Sensory Play (Bi-weekly) and a Sports Group.
Dance Workshops were also developed and these were delivered with a volunteer leading them. The Game On Project worked alongside Vibrant Communities to liaise and develop opportunities for inclusion into mainstream activities within the local community. We also worked alongside The Conservations Volunteers (Scotland) to deliver Nature Workshops.
The Project Coordinator attended an All Ability Sports Information Day in June to network and obtain more information on inclusion in sporting activities. The Project Coordinator and volunteers also attended Active for Autism training. Relax Kids sessions were held in conjunction with Francine Robertson from Quest for Wellbeing. The Project Co-coordinator from Game On also met with Speech and Language Therapists with regards to Lego therapy, prior to setting up this group. We continually evaluated and asked for feedback from group members, their parents and carers.
As social communication can be a huge barrier for people with autism, sport, leisure and social activities have played a huge part in developing the growth and development of their confidence and self-esteem. The Game On Project has been a great success in improving these outcomes and has the potential to develop further and be a success throughout the whole of Ayrshire and other constituents in order to increase participation in sport and enhance social communication amongst young people with Autism.
Throughout the project we worked in partnership with various organisations such as Vibrant Communities, Speech and Language Therapy, The Conservation Volunteers and Relax Kids. With our knowledge of Autism and their specialist skills we were able to provide our young people with new, innovative acti
The Socialeyes programme/Jurassic Raptors has helped the young man immensely to understand expectations of lots of different people, whilst in a calm and fun environment. The Social Skills modules the young man took part in were, starting a conversation, eye contact, keeping on topic, talking about interests, taking turns in conversation, ending a conversation, personal space and learning more about Asperger Syndrome.
The young man’s family say he now observes things going on in society at large and has made relevant comments to people in shops and cafes recently. In fact, through gaining confidence through the groups and Socialeyes sessions the young man has recently started college. Through gaining positive social experiences via the groups and Socialeyes sessions run from Ayrshire OSS, he has been more eager to engage with new experiences like college, because he realises now that there are people out with his family that don't get angry and upset with him constantly for perhaps not behaving exactly as expected.
The family say, ‘I really can't imagine how my son would be if we hadn't started attending the Game On Project run from the Ayrshire OSS. I love seeing my son looking forward to going somewhere, and being happy and content when he comes home. I hope the groups continue forever!!!’
The young person was going through a really tough time at school, she was being bullied at school and at several clubs she attends for being different. Since the project started she has been less anxious in school, this causes a lot less anxiety to her parents. Her teacher now uses her as an example of good work and instead of being a follower she is being a leader. This increase in confidence, has an impact on family life. Life is less stressful and it is rewarding when the family see the young person reaching their potential and having less anxieties in their live.
Family B, one of our volunteers says, ‘the children are coming on leaps and bounds! From my first session many of them were a little bit quiet and shy, but now they won't stop chatting away! They like to share their experiences and talk about certain situations when they have used things they have learned in Socialeyes, in school or at home.’
The family say that they are hoping now that their son’s confidence has increased that they will now be able to join in these events that most families take for granted.
What The National Autistic Society has learnedMulti-skills Groups provided a non-sport specific, fun and enjoyable starting point for children’s involvement in sport. Sessions included a wide variety of games and activities, all involving the development of skills and attributes such as balance, coordination and agility that can be applied to a range of sports and physical activities that a child may subsequently choose to participate in.
The Multi-skills Groups proved to be great success with 10 children aged 5-12 attending on a weekly basis. Through the use of team games and parachute activities, friendships, confidence and team work have all been established, and have not only made the group a great success but also fun for all.
Sensory Play Group included activities that stimulated the child's senses, touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. This gave children aged 5-12 years an opportunity to get messy and creative. Throughout the Game On Project and over our 6-week blocks, 8 children attended the group and took part in activities such as making magic milk, citric fizz and gloop.
LEGO Therapy Group involved building LEGO models in small groups or pairs where the children took on different roles such as builder, engineer and supplier and worked together. The children were encouraged to practice turn taking, sharing, joint problem solving and general social communication skills. We had a total of 8 children attend the group were they worked on projects such as building animals, vehicles and free building. This gave the children a great opportunity to work together as part of a team and use their imaginations to make new creations.
The OSS Gaming Group involved activities such as, pool/table tennis, Xbox, board games and card games allowing young people to meet new friends and socialise in a relaxed environment. The gaming group was split up into 2 age groups, 9-12 years and 13-16 years. This allowed the members to interact with others of a similar age and a play a game of their choice. Across both age groups we had 12 members attend the group. The Gaming group was a great success as many of the individuals were introduced to new games and some of the members made new friends and chose to play online games with one another at home.
The Sports Groups catered to 13-20 year olds. We had 11 young people attend the group where they participated in sports such as badminton, basketball and dodgeball. Despite their being a variety of sports to choose from, each session had a structure with the reiteration of the importance of a sport specific warm up and cool down and how participating in sport can make a positive difference to your quality of life. This gave the members the opportunity to get fit and make new friends whilst participating in a sport they enjoyed, some of our members have now taken up a new sport, such as badminton and are able to go along to an evening class without the group or support from volunteers.
Socialeyes is a new and innovative approach to facilitating social skills and social understanding with people on the autism spectrum. Those attending took part in specially designed modules and will learned new skills to enable social interaction. The following modules were covered, starting a conversation, eye contact, keeping on topic, talking about Interests, taking turns in conversation, ending a conversation, personal space, sensitive topics, and Asperger’s Syndrome. The group is held every Wednesday, 4:30pm – 6pm with a total of 9 members attending.