Mental Health Awareness Week: ASCape, Bridport

Group helps autistic youngsters find fun and friendship

Mental Health Awareness Week: ASCape, Bridport

WE funded ASCape in Bridport through our Neighbourhood Fund to support its activities for young people aged 18 and under who are isolated through their ASD.

The group runs a variety of activities, including woodwork activities at The Community Shed in Bridport for about 20 young people in groups of four to five over a period of up to six weeks.

They are supervised by a woodwork tutor and a team of volunteers to complete simple woodwork projects, such as constructing bird boxes, shelves or boxes. It helps the young people gain useful life skills that may be useful for living independently as adults as well as enhancing their gross and fine motor skills.

They gain confidence and improve their self-esteem by completing a project on their own and improve their social skills by interacting with others, which is easier for Autistic youngsters when they are completing an activity they enjoy side-by-side.

They also take part in gardening activities at the Cowshed at Plot 17, an allotment maintained by the Ammonite Medical practice in Bridport. Young people and their families spend time weeding, planting seeds and eventually harvesting the fruits and vegetables

The activities widen the young people’s experiences in a safe and supported way, improving their self-esteem and providing them with a greater ‘memory bank’ of experiences to call upon in lieu of a highly developed imagination.

They can try new skills and occasionally fail and try again without recrimination. The youngsters are able to spend time with their peers in an environment where quirks and differences are celebrated, rather than discriminated against, to lessen the feelings of social isolation which are common among young people with autism.

Their parents are able to make connections with others to receive invaluable peer support – and they in turn feel less socially isolated. They can share experiences and victories over the challenges often faced by the parents of autistic children and be more empowered to care for their children and to get the best for them in their education.