A story by ENABLE Scotland
In Forth Valley and Fife – Fun day at the Time capsule, an animal fun day where young people interacted with animals at a petting zoo. Young people went to the autistic showing of The Lion King.
A young person who missed out on The Lion King went to the Beauty and Beast Pantomime. 4 hour session to ‘Sensations’. In West Dunbartonshire – summer play sessions accessing community facilities 48 hours of service delivery, 3 days per week for 4 hours each days and 2 hours on Saturday mornings for 6 weeks operating our drama and music group.
The School’s Out programmes will provide opportunities throughout the year for children and young people with learning disabilities to grow and flourish by delivering a range of activities in the evenings, at weekends and the school holidays that has been selected by them and will allow them to achieve their own individual goals and aspirations
Tip 1:Make sure events target and meet the needs of all those that need a short break – put on individual events for those that have specific needs if necessary. Evaluate, get feedback and improve any areas where feedback is negative where at all possible.
Tip 2:Reach for the stars when at the planning stage of your service and you might reach them.
Tip 3:Consultation with the children and their carers is key to the success of the service.
Quote from his Dad: “It has given my son a new circle of friends, he really enjoys it, and we hope we will be able to take him to more classes”
A young boy was referred to our organization recently. J has participated fully in 2 events and at The Animal Fun Day he was very shy and withdrawn and would not interact with anyone or pet any of the animals. His support worker spent an hour playing games with him and he gradually became more confident and started to show an interest in the animals getting closer to them through play. After an hour and a half he started to look in the cages and tanks and then took the support workers hand and started to pet the animals. He then started to do some of the arts and crafts and found the whole experience very fun, stimulating and rewarding.
During our summer programme we visited Zoo Lab, as some of the children had expressed an interest in “creepy crawlies" during our consultation sessions. We wanted to stretch their expectations, especially in sensory way. We spent time together building our topic of “creepy crawlies”, we researched the many different species, through books, computers and a visit to the library, used collage material to make our own, made puppets and a wall freeze.
The children’s reactions: “ yuk, oh its soft and smooth” said C stroking the snake. “ oh can I take it home, its dancing on my hand” said A laughing holding a large spider.
Our carers have shared their thought and views on what support our service gives to them and their children. Most find the greatest benefit to them is having the opportunity and time for a rest from their intensive caring duties.
Quotes from our Carers questionnaire: “my son meets new people and takes part in new activities, which is good for him as we struggle to get him to try new things, and I get time to spend with my daughter” “lets my daughter meet with her friends during the long summer break, lets her see different places and have different experiences”
B was a shy girl who had little verbal communication and often displayed and suffered from violent outburst throughout her daily life. She had been diagnosed with learning disabilities and high functioning Autism. Through the support of Better Breaks she now enjoys a variety of play experiences and activities which include, sensory play, active indoor play, going to the park to play on the swings, going swimming and occasionally joining in with her peers through group activities.
Her family said “quality service that has not only opened our child’s world but enabled us to be part of hers. We now take the whole family swimming something that we would not have even considered before with B”.
Nan was feeling more stressed continuing in her caring role for her grandson as her husband was undergoing medical treatment. She wasn’t sure how she could cope with this on top of caring for J. The doctor who was aware of the family situation, and could also see the stress Nan was under handed Nan one of our leaflets. “it’s just round the corner from you, I was just thinking with the holidays coming up and if your husband's in the hospital they may be able to offer some support” he said. Nan called us that day and in her words “has not looked back”.
Nan said “Thanks it means I can go to the hospital now knowing that J is safe and getting well cared for, and he’s not getting bored sitting about. What a difference in him too.
“When B goes to the cinema , I know he will have a great time, it lets me relax, it sounds simply but they 4 hours really make a difference”.
In Stirling we have forged links with The central Advocacy Project and have got access to a community shared space which can be booked and used for workshop events. They also have a friendship network for young people with autism which we have been promoting and some of our young people have started to use. This has helped build up more short breaks for parents as they organize activities and events for the young people.
We have an excellent partnership with local sports centre and their staff always go the extra mile to support the children and young people .
L: “ I want to go canoeing again with Beth and Tom, it was good fun” L's Dad: “yeah he enjoyed it, we’ve been back a few times and he loves it when Beth is there”
Unexpected benefits have come when some of the people we support have started to develop friendships within their peer group and have arranged to meet up outside support times.
There has also been the chance to tailor support to meet the needs of families we know need extra support the most and this has been greatly receive by families that can, at times, feel isolated and unsupported.
When we had our animal event a young person turned up with a support worker without knowing what was on in the venue we were using. We invited her to stay and have given her the opportunity to come back to future events.
Children who attend PALS have multiple support needs which include: global developmental delay, autism, ADHD, Down’s syndrome, visual and hearing impairment, communication difficulties.
Due to their multiple support needs our children and young people often find themselves isolated, and find it difficult to access inclusive activities with their peers.