Why short breaks services are vital for children with autism and other complex needs

Posted by / Thursday 29 March 2018 / Disabled children and young people

What is Autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder covers a range of conditions and all children with autism are affected differently. It’s a condition that is usually picked up in early years, and many of the children we support are affected by autism.  

Some of the signifiers of autism can include:

  • Lack of social skills and wanting to play alone
  • repetitive behaviours such as flapping or repeating words
  • Non-verbal or very little speech
  • Intense reactions to sound,taste, light or colour

The way children with autism see the world is totally different to the way we do. Their senses, for example can be heightened or experienced in more overwhelming ways which can make every day things much more stressful.

Watch this video produced by The National Autistic Society, highlighting what some autistic people face everyday. Find out how you can help at www.autism.org.uk/toomuchinformation



How we make it as comfortable as possible for children with disabilities and autism at West Hyde

A lot of the children we support here at West Hyde have learning disabilities as well as autism. Some have Global Development Delay (when a child takes longer to reach development milestones in comparison to other children the same age) and other complex needs.

Some of the children will want to play alone and will not be interested in joining in with other children. They might struggle with understanding people and like their own routine.

Finding out the child’s routine is so important to making sure they feel comfortable and are able to have fun and feel secure when they come to West Hyde.

With time, staff support and as they feel more comfortable in the environment they may want to interact more other young people.

The first stage, once we receive a referral is to visit the young person’s parents to find out more about the young person, how many other children they’d feel comfortable being around at one time, and if they will need 1:1 support from the staff. We also find out about any specific medication they are taking so we can make sure the child will always be safe while they’re staying with us. We are all trained in the administration of medication and safe storage.

"We have known a lot of our young people for many years and it’s like their second home, which makes us proud."

Emily from West Hyde Short Breaks Service

We make a real effort to find out what kind of activities the young people enjoy and dislike, the food they like, overnight routines– all of this is really important to making sure they have fun. We are very successful at building trusting relationships which over time means that the young people can experience new things and develop life skills in a way that is nurturing and enjoyable.


What the children can do

We do a lot of trips out. Some of these have trips to the Isle of White, Butlins, restaurants, bowling, musicals, trampolining, beauty salons, pantomimes – that’s always a popular one! We have a Christmas party with Santa Claus and a Summer Party.

The suggestions box is there to encourage the children to tell us what they like and dislike about West Hyde. 

We’ve got a children’s panel too, so when we’re hiring new staff, they have a say on who gets hired. They choose what they want for dinner too, last week Nicky had to cook 4 different meals for them all, to ensure they all had something they would enjoy.

It’s being included in decisions like these that help the young people to feel more confident, and build their self-esteem.

We have lots of facilities in out six bedroom building. There are two main lounges, a kitchen with dining room and also have a sensory room and garden with playground. Inside the young people can use our Xbox, computers, toys and art supplies. The bedrooms have modern furnishings and en suites. We just want them to feel like they’re safe, like they’re at home. They have been involved in decision making around decoration, furniture, activities, and toys as well as who should work here.


Why short breaks services are important

The aim is for the children to have fun, enjoy themselves and to have the opportunity to make friends. We build up their confidence and allow them to have new experiences they wouldn’t get the chance to have otherwise. We work on their life skills and resilience to help them when they eventually grow into adulthood.

The Parents of our children are happy to see their children enjoying their visits and reaching their agreed goals in a safe environment. Whilst they may get the chance to do activities with their other children that might normally not be possible. It gives the parents quality time together and a break from the normal routine.

We have known a lot of our young people for many years and it’s like their second home, which makes us proud.

Next steps


Short Breaks @ West Hyde

We provide residential shortbreaks supporting young people with learning disabilities and complex health needs.

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Advice for parents

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