Resources for Autism provide practical services for children and adults with an autistic spectrum condition and for those who love and care for them. They provide a range of services including specialist play and youth clubs, music and art therapy sessions, and holiday play schemes.
In 2016 Jonny Whitfield, a group leader at the Southwark branch, was nominated for a Leader Award by the staff and service users. He was chosen because of his positive energy and humour that lifts the spirits of group members, staff and volunteers. Jonny is also very creative and brings this to his planning of group activities.
Jonny’s Leader Award enabled the Southwark branch to apply for a £750 Small Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation. Jonny and the Southwark group chose to use the grant to fund a selection of toys, games and resources for the Monday Southwark group. The items bought included small group board games, puzzles and physical games. A small selection of the funding was also used for the Sunday Southwark group, to buy a small tent to create a sensory room.
The Southwark group has very limited funding for resources, therefore the items purchased with the grant will have a long term impact, as they will be used again and again by multiple young people who attend the group.
The young people receive one to one support and it can sometimes be challenging for their key worker to engage them in activities. For example, one young person engages in a stimming activity, pulling a rubber band back and forth in front of their face, in order to block out the outside world and not engage with others. Using a puzzle or game to encourage them to play with their key worker is a way to engage and excite them about interacting at the group. Once engaged, the young people can then move on to larger group activities.
Before the session, Jonny and the other group staff set out the new toys and resources on a table facing the door, almost like a shop display. When the young people entered it was the first thing they saw and they became very excited, it was “like Christmas”.
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