The campaign took place between 27 March and 2 April to spread awareness and encourage fundraising for autism, a lifelong disorder that is characterised by impairment in social interaction, communication and restrictive, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour. Six years on from the opening of its first specialist residential home for adults with autism, in Whitley near Goole, Heathcotes showed its support for World Autism Awareness Week with related activities at Group locations across the UK.
Heathcotes Group Managing Director, Brendan Kelly, said: “We are proud to support World Autism Awareness Week, which is promoting awareness and fundraising participation in communities, schools and workplaces. We believe that people with autism are unique, valuable members of society, and that raising awareness of this complex condition is an important way to reduce stigma and help people to be more socially included. Autism affects how people perceive the world and is a broad spectrum of disorders that covers a wide range of abilities and deficits. People with autism are often very isolated and struggle to forge friendships outside of their immediate family or caregivers. They may also have difficulties with imagination and can be limited to certain patterns of behaviour or very narrowly focussed interests, often expressed as a fascination or obsession with certain activities, tasks or objects.
A significant number of adults with autism are not able to live independently and need to be accommodated in specialist residential homes like ours. To successfully work with these individuals, it’s important to have a broad understanding of their impairments, but it’s equally important to provide person-centred support tailored to their individual needs. This could include adapting our language and communication systems, sometimes involving non-verbal and symbolic communication. Structuring the environment to minimise anxiety and uncertainty is a vital aspect, and identifying the positive influences for each person can help to reduce the level of challenging behaviour. At Heathcotes, we believe that increasing the understanding and awareness of these dynamics is an important part of World Autism Awareness Week.”