Resources for Autism Thanks Variety
We are very grateful to have received the grant from Variety, the Children’s Charity, towards the costs of our Coaches. Thanks to this funding we have been able to provide transport for children and young people from 4 to 19 years in the West Midlands who have autism.
Having access to our own coach has made our services more accessible and really enhanced the activities and experiences that we can offer the children and young people who come to our groups.
There is no one type of autism and Resources for Autism is one of the few organisations that offers services to individuals wherever they are on the autistic spectrum. Our clients range from those who appear able and articulate but struggle with communication and social interaction leaving them isolated and anxious. In several cases this anxiety manifests itself in a fear of travelling on public transport, and with family income low as a result of parents being carers, access to private cars or cabs is impossible, resulting in further isolation.
For users of our services who have extreme sensory sensitivity to noise, smell and light and are non-verbal, travelling on public transport can cause them to become stressed and have melt downs. Exhausted parent/carers then start to avoid going out and so the family become isolated and forgo the respite they desperately need. Thanks to your funding of the coaches, we are now able to offer our group members access to the outside world in safety, supported by trained staff who can provide reassurance if necessary. The journey itself can also become part of the fun offered by the group – with singing and games to pass the time.
The coach has been in almost constant use during both term time and over the school holidays and having our own coach means that we have been able to provide many more short trips and outings for the attendees of our Play and Youth Schemes.The picture shows a trip to a botanical garden that would not have been possible without our own safe means of transport for our group members. For many group members this is often the first time they have been able to participate in activities or events without their parent or carer.
Each outing is planned and structured to help our members to develop independence, and communication skills. In time they can learn and retain these important social skills which they can improve family and school life away from the clubs. We have also been able to introduce designated ‘pick up and drop off’ points as part of our service for those with no accessible means of transport and therefore struggle to get to and from the play schemes.
All of our outings enables our children and young people to broaden their horizons, experience new places and activities and engage socially with their peers and form friendships. This may seem like a small thing, but for autistic children is a huge achievement and a skill development that can make a real difference to their quality of life.
The Coaches have helped our users by:
- Allowing them to look forward to outings.
- Reducing their anxiety levels whilst travelling.
- Increasing their confidence and self- esteem.
- Learning to feel safe and secure within a group setting.
- Learning how to travel safely and confidently on the coach which helps with access to public transport.
- Allowing their parents/families some respite, especially during the school holidays
We know from the volume of referrals from professionals and families that there is still a great demand for our services and we are fully committed to maintaining these. We use services evaluations to monitor the impact and quality of our work. We also continue to develop services in response to the needs of our families, such as an intensive home support service which helps families in crisis to develop skills and strategies to cope better with the needs of their autistic child.
Changes in the way that our families receive funding is creating challenges that we are working hard to meet, and we remain extremely grateful to Variety for their continued support which really has made a massive difference to the range of experiences that we are able to offer to our children and young people.