Autism is a lifelong developmental disability, which affects how those who suffer with it communicate and interact with the world and their environment(s). Approximately 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, meaning that there are around 700,000 autistic people living with the disability here in the UK. Many of us will know, either through friends, family or maybe even through our work, someone who either has or cares for someone with autism.
Through the HATS Group Home 2 Schools (H2S), Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Transport services, we have, over the years transported and continue to transport many autistic children and young adults.
To help these youngsters enjoy a safe, comfortable and as relaxing a ride as possible, we train all our colleagues in many effective ways to communicate with Autistic youngsters including MAKATON (a language programme that uses signs together with speech and symbols, to enable people to communicate), reading stories, sharing learning experiences and even singing! Everything we do is aimed at keeping those that we transport engaged, comfortable and above all safe.
Routine and knowing what and how they are going to experience things, is crucial for helping to keep those with Autism calm whilst they use our services: so, to help them familiarise themselves, from time to time we visit some of the many SEND schools that we support – spending the day interacting with teachers and learning the many varied and different techniques they use, to deal with their Autistic students. This ‘external engagement’ allows us to analyse how certain individuals respond to specific situations and we try to take this knowledge back to our own HATS Training Academy classrooms – giving our colleagues as much detailed and useful information as possible – always aimed at providing and delivering the best level of support that we can, to those that we transport with Autism.
As well as not only transporting many youngsters with Autism, we also offer work experience to them. From time to time, they come to one of our depot’s and spend a week or so working in various roles, spending some time:
- Shadowing the compliance team.
- Helping with general administration.
- Printing and scanning important documents.
- Sitting in the fleet room, signing our drivers in and out and giving them their vehicle keys etc.
- They also even sit in on some of the training sessions that we may be conducting during that week, giving our HATS colleagues very real ‘first-hand experience’ of what it is like to live with Autism and how best to deploy the various tips and techniques to help to communicate with those living with it. 😊
Where and when we can, we have previously organised many school trips and fun days out for some of our Autistic passengers and once the current Pandemic lockdown rules allow, we plan to again do so in the future.
Please join us in supporting those with Autism this April, it is a pleasure to transport and support these children and young adults as they are so much fun, full of life and incredibly vibrant. Seeing things, a different way, can allow the rest of us to have our eyes truly opened, giving us an opportunity to learn, grow and develop new skills.
We are delighted to show our support for the many talented individuals who suffer with Autism, as well as their many friends, family and carers who support, care and live with those affected by this disability which as yet has no cure.