Resources for Autism is a registered charity working across Greater London and the West Midlands to help people who have autism and their families, many of whom are at crisis point. We are well placed to provide support to these families with 21 years of experience helping people across the spectrum of autism, often accepting people who have been refused service by other organisations for being too challenging. The aim of our work is to reduce feelings of isolation, increase confidence and improve social and life skills, leading to a better quality of life and prospects for people with autism. We provide social and development groups for children and adults, home support and art and music therapy.
The Pixel Fund is supporting our Reach Out home support service with the aim of recruiting an additional 40 volunteers over the coming year. Reach Out is a free service that places volunteers with families who are struggling with autism. Volunteers are well trained and supported by a behaviour specialist, and the volunteers themselves have a range of backgrounds including psychology students and speech and language therapists. They are given an in-depth understanding of autism and learn autism strategies and coping techniques which they can use in their visits to families. Parents and siblings who are carers benefit immensely from the respite time they receive whilst the volunteer is visiting
This is Maria’s volunteering story:
“H was a four year old boy with very complex needs. He was non-verbal, sensitive to noise and had a short attention span; he liked to play rough, wasn’t toilet trained and had a lot of anxiety. H ignored me completely the first time I met him, but we would become quite close.
I was glad the Reach Out coordinator took me to that first meeting, introducing me to the family and setting us all at ease. Both the family and I felt protected and more confident having her there, creating a professional environment where we could build trust.
After that, I visited every week to spend time with H, giving his family time to relax, teaching him to use the toilet and trying new activities. We visited the park; H loved to play with leaves so we took them home and made art. He liked playing with light and pop-up history books (but they wouldn’t last long!). I sent logs of my time to the coordinator who gave me feedback, new ideas and encouragement.
By the end of my time with H, there were noticeable changes – he was calmer, could go to the bathroom, was able to say some words and play with others. Mum was happier too, she was using some of the strategies Resources for Autism gave us, such as having a routine; H liked the structure.
Saying goodbye was sad, you become attached to the families you work with but it’s important to move on. There’s a long waiting list of other families looking for help. I’ve seen H and his family out in the community and think of him sometimes. I learnt a lot about autism through H, he was my best teacher.”
Since volunteering with H, Maria has gone on to work with six more families, all with their own unique situation and challenges. We are incredibly grateful for the time she and all our other volunteers have given to help families disadvantaged by autism, and for the support from the Pixel Fund which will enable us to find more volunteers like Maria.
On behalf of Resources for Autism