Adapting Autism Service During the Covid Crisis: Art Opportunities, Alloa
Meagan McConnachie, Senior Autism Practitioner
Christopher's People Paper Tree for Autism Awareness Month
During these difficult times, it has been important to try and support our individuals to the best of our ability. The closure of Scottish Autism’s Day Opportunities as a result of Covid-19 has meant that the team within Art Opportunities has had to be creative in the way we deliver support. For those individuals supported within our residential, home support and outreach services this has meant providing vocational support within the home. In allocating staff, we have ensured that the practitioners are supporting individuals they are familiar and have positive relationships with. We have aimed to keep a consistent approach to make everyone feel as safe and secure as possible, as well as trying to maintain some semblance of normality during this period of change and disruption.
For some of our supported people this has meant recreating timetables similar to their day service provision. Some chose to have their pictorial timetables from Art Opportunities displayed within their homes and have kept the structure of sessions they would normally take part in the same. This involved taking supplies such as textile pieces, pens, paper and Hama beads home with them and staff supporting them with these activities. We have tried to ensure that our creative themes (currently mini-beasts) has remained the focus. One of our team, Kimberley, has also supported the men within one residential service to complete NHS rainbows to be displayed in their windows. Another team member, Claire, has continued to run musical theatre sessions within one supported person’s home, this is a very important part of this person’s timetable and to still have the opportunity to take part in this has meant a great deal to her.
Peter creates a rainbow and shares his message
For those individuals we have been unable to support at home, the team are staying in regular contact with them and their family. It has been important to check in with how people are coping with changes and to ensure they still feel supported. Before the temporary closure of Day Opportunities some were given art supplies to take home with them so that their families could try and keep some form of structure within their day. More recently the team have begun to issue daily art challenges via email. These are simple tasks with instructions to follow and templates where necessary. Some of these tasks have been making super hero masks, paper aeroplane challenges, and making hand-print family trees. Working this way has allowed us to broaden our community: with not only local services getting involved, but also supported people in Orkney which has been really nice to see. Participants have taken pictures of their completed work so they can then share with each other and the team. Our staff team have also set weekly musical theatre and baking tasks for those who are missing out on the Musical Theatre group and the local Cottipot café (a café for those we support and their family members). We are also hoping to have Skype Musical Theatre sessions with individuals; if this proves to be successful we will look into opening the opportunity up to others so they can get a face-to-face experience.