Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that impacts more than 1 in 100 people in the UK.
By raising awareness and encouraging people to learn more about autism, we can help create a society that is more inclusive and accessible for everyone, providing experiences for all to enjoy.
As April is National Autism Awareness Month, we wanted to share why it is so important for places to be autism-friendly, as well as highlight some of the places championing inclusivity by offering ASD-friendly experiences and days out in the Midlands right now.
Why it is so important for places to be autism-friendly?
1) Sensory Processing
People on the autism spectrum can often have hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli where loud noises, strong smells, and flashing images can cause anxiety and physical pain. Removing these obstacles can massively build an individual’s confidence and overall positivity. This may have further positive impacts in the future where they feel more comfortable trying new things.
2) Crucial for well-being
Activities and attractions offering autism-friendly events helps to eliminate anxiety and dread over day-to-day things, such as going to the supermarket or the cinema. It also allows for crucial socialisation which can have a massive positive impact on mental well-being.
3) Promotes Awareness
Holding autism-friendly events allows staff members to be taught how to deal with certain situations and spread an understanding this way. They also help to create an understanding for visitors seeing the advertisements, who might be unaware about autism and what it means for an individual.
What can places do to be more autism-friendly?
1) Sensory Maps
Having maps for the senses, such as a map of lighting, touch, and sound, can mean the difference between an anxious and distressing experience, and a calm and confidence-building one.
It allows people to prepare for changing sensory experiences, breeding a sense of confidence within an unfamiliar and alienating space. It is an extremely simple idea, yet it has the potential to make a massive difference to the community!
2) Specific Quiet Times/Having a Quiet Room
Having specific quiet times or a designated “quiet room” can provide a safe space for guests. This provides reassurance and creates a more pleasurable experience for people with autism.
3) Create an inclusive and supportive environment
Having support at events can be crucial to provide a sense of familiarity and calm on days out. Training staff at events is very important so that they know how to deal with situations constructively and helpfully. Allowing carers to accompany people with autism can also be crucial.
Autism-friendly activities in Birmingham/Midlands
1) ODEON autism-friendly experiences
One Sunday each month, ODEON hosts an autism-friendly film screening.
This includes keeping the house lights on throughout the showing, with lower audio volume to reduce any sensory overload. They remove the preceding advertisements and trailers for this reason also.
The cinema doors are also opened earlier than usual to allow guests to explore and familiarise themselves with the venue ahead of the screening.
2) Birmingham Hippodrome relaxed performances
The Birmingham Hippodrome offers relaxed performances designed for people with autism, learning difficulties, and other sensory and communication disorders. They offer more freedoms such as walking in and out of the auditorium during performances as well as being allowed to make noise throughout the performance.
It is also SEN friendly, offering adapted staging, maybe a simpler version of the script, raised house lights, and bright lights and loud noises removed. There is also a nearby calm space in cases of distress or unease with beanbags, sensory toys, and bubble lights.
All front-of-house staff are also trained in advance of all relaxed performances.
3) Rush Trampoline Park SEN sessions
Rush Trampoline Park offers a great opportunity for people to explore the joys of trampolining in a more relaxed and accessible way.
These sessions include a capped capacity, no music, and reduced lighting to avoid any glare. Carers are also welcome to accompany visitors into the arena free of charge.
4) National SeaLife Centre Birmingham ‘Quiet at the Aquarium’
On selected dates, the National SeaLife Centre offers a ‘quiet’ experience before regular opening times. This is aimed at creating an SEN-friendly experience that is quieter and more relaxed than usual, involving switching off the centre music and turning televisions down to minimal volume.
Here at Lisieux Trust, we believe in empowering and supporting adults with learning disabilities and adults on the autism spectrum.
Our goal is to create independence and opportunities for our community to create awareness. Whether that’s within our provided care and accommodation or through our work.
Learn more about the support we provide or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to date with many of the activities our tenants and residents get up to.
Tuesday 21st March saw the global celebration of World Down’s Syndrome Day, as a way of raising awareness of Downs Syndrome and empowering the millions of people around the world affected by it.
Around a third of the people we support have Down’s Syndrome, so this is always an important day for Lisieux Trust.
2021 and 2022 saw big leaps in the representation of people with Down’s Syndrome in the public eye. George Webster started presenting on Cbeebies, Ellie Goldstein became the face of Gucci and Adidas and high-street brands in the fashion industry started using models with Down’s Syndrome in their advertising.
We loved seeing this happen and we hope it helps other people with Down’s Syndrome to feel that they are important and valuable members of society.
Every year there is a different theme to the awareness day, with the 2023 theme – ‘With Us Not For Us’ focusing on how people with Down’s Syndrome have the right to make their own decisions about their own lives; rather than other people telling them how they should and shouldn’t live.
We are incredibly passionate about this at Lisieux Trust. We know all too well just how often adults with Down’s Syndrome and other learning disabilities, or autism are told what they should and shouldn’t do by others.
We believe in supporting each adult to understand what their options are and to make choices that they feel comfortable and confident about.
People with Down’s Syndrome and other learning disabilities and autism are often expected to live ‘perfect’ lives where they make no mistakes.
However, adults without disabilities make mistakes or make choices that other people would consider ‘unwise’ everyday; they might shout, swear, sit and eat a whole pack of biscuits in one go, they might go out and have too much to drink, they might date the wrong person, they might take a job that isn’t right for them.
These are the kind of ‘mistakes’ or ‘poor choices’ that teach us about ourselves and life; they can be an invaluable part of learning what is important to us and feeling more confident about how to achieve it.
Yet adults with learning disabilities are often expected to avoid these scenarios because they are considered too ‘risky’.
At Lisieux Trust, we believe everyone we support has the right to make informed choices; our job is to ensure our residents and tenants have as much information as possible about each option open to them and to support them to make their own decisions.
If they turn out to have made a mistake or a poor choice for them; we’re there to help them understand and learn from it. And if they need to be angry, have a cry or need a hug, we’re there for that too! We believe this is what real adult life looks like, and everyone has the right to it.
Residential care and supported living at Lisieux Trust
With 11 homes situated across Northeast Birmingham – including Sutton Coldfield, we provide a place for adults with a learning disability or autism to live together, learn together and laugh together.
Find out more about the support we provide here – https://www.lisieuxtrust.org.uk/what-we-do/
Supported living allows adult with learning disabilities or autism to live life with greater independence while receiving the extra physical or mental support they need in their day to day lives.
It is a massive part of what we do here at Lisieux Trust. We currently manage eight dedicated supported living properties located across Erdington and Sutton Coldfield.
There are several benefits of choosing supporting living for your loved one and in this blog, our team are going to run through some of the key ones so that you can gain a greater understanding of how it works.
Enjoy more independence
Supported living provides the opportunity for your loved one to live a more independent life in their own home, with support tailored to their specific needs.
It is a great option to consider, whether they are leaving their parents’ home, living independently but require more support, or even transitioning from child to adult services.
Our support is personally tailored towards each person. It could be the case that a tenant may be independent enough to only need a short visit from a support worker, or it may be that a tenant needs 24-hour care.
Many of our supported living tenants also have fantastic opportunities to integrate within the community and attend places of work, volunteering roles, and higher education, as well as go out on lots of fun trips around Sutton and Birmingham.
A home tailored to their requirements
Each person we support has a tenancy agreement that grants them legal rights over their room in one of our shared properties and awards them the opportunity to have more independence in their lives.
They will be responsible for things like paying bills and the upkeep of their home which will help teach valuable life skills, but also provide a space to relax and call home.
Specialist assistive equipment will be available in each property depending on the individual needs and requirements of the tenants, including call systems, hoists, and automatic doors.
We know it’s really important to be surrounded by people you enjoy spending time with, so we support our tenants by finding suitable housemates with similar lifestyles and interests.
Our supported living homes are also set in the heart of their communities, meaning easy access to local amenities and attractions, along with having transport links close by.
The chance to create a home they love
One of the most fun parts of moving into your own home is being able to decorate it to your liking, and it is no different in our supported living properties.
This is another great opportunity for independence and can really help to bring back those home comforts that might be missed from no longer living with family members.
Tailored care and support
Whilst we encourage a greater independence for our tenants, we also ensure that any and all required support is always present. This covers lots of different tasks, including personal care, medication, and help managing finances.
Care is tailored to the needs and wishes of each tenant. Each person will receive a detailed assessment before placement to determine the level of support needed.
In some cases, tenants may be highly independent in some areas of life, but more dependent in others. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if that is what a tenant requires.
Support from a team of trained support workers
Just like in residential care, our support workers are professionally trained, and their focus is on helping to improve the lives of the people around them, while ensuring that tenants are always treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Personal qualities are also vital for our support workers and team members. When we recruit, we look for candidates who have important qualities such as kindness, honesty, good organisation, reliability, and who are excellent listeners.
Discover more about Lisieux Trust
With homes and supported living schemes across Northeast Birmingham – including Sutton Coldfield, we provide a place for adults with a learning disability or autism to live, learn, and laugh together.
Find out more about the support we provide on our website at https://www.lisieuxtrust.org.uk/what-we-do/
The end of the year is nearly here, and it brings with it the perfect time for reflection. It’s been a great year for us at Lisieux Trust, mainly thanks to the fantastic efforts of the team who work hard to put smiles on the faces of our tenants and residents every single day.
We love seeing our fantastic team members get the recognition they deserve, and the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards is a great opportunity for this to happen.
Nominations have just opened for the annual awards, which cover both England & Scotland, with the winners announced at a ceremony in Birmingham next summer.
The awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities, looking to honour the individuals or organisations who excel at providing quality care.
With more than 17 different award categories to choose from, there are lots of great opportunities to nominate the members of the Lisieux community that go the extra mile. If anyone comes to mind, we’d love for you to nominate them via the online entry form.
Many of the awards celebrate the different roles throughout the team, including support workers, managers, and other front-line staff. Special award categories recognise the people who have gone above and beyond, such as the ‘Making a Difference Award’ or the ‘Frontline Leaders Award’.
The full list of categories can be found on the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards website – https://www.nationalldawards.co.uk/about-the-awards/
Each nomination needs a separate entry accompanied by a short explanation of why this person deserves recognition for the work they do.
Nominations are open until 13th May 2023. More information can be found on the awards website at https://www.nationalldawards.co.uk/
Thank you for your support throughout 2022!