Most children with Autistic Spectrum Condition (‘ASC’) have very little or no language and experience difficulty in communicating effectively. They have no sense of danger and not much understanding of the world around them, which makes it almost impossible for them to play safely and develop friendships. These difficulties and frustration often result in challenging and disruptive behaviour, which can only be managed with appropriate understanding and support. Consequently, the school holidays are often the most stressful times for these children and their families, who have no support because their child would be excluded or unable to cope with ordinary or integrated playschemes.
In the early nineties some teachers from a school in Manchester knew they were able to provide the support that these children and families desperately needed. In the summer of 1992, a new playscheme took place in South Manchester for these children. They were taken swimming, to play parks or on long walks in the countryside, given a packed lunch and returned home at the end of the day. The children were often tired and a bit grubby, but were full of smiles and eager to come along the next time. Some of them even slept – all night!
The response from families was fantastic; it was exactly the type of service they wanted and needed. Parents felt safe handing their children over, as they were confident with the ability, understanding, knowledge and high levels of experienced staff that were supporting their child.
News of this playscheme for children with autism spread rapidly and over the next few years many more families from all over Greater Manchester were requesting places. The playscheme expanded and grew beyond all expectations and after a couple of years was adopted and managed by the local autistic society and was known as PLASMA – Playscheme of the Autistic Society Manchester Area.
Funding from BBC Children In Need was secured for the post of two part-time co-ordinators. By this time we were providing two playschemes.
In 1999 we became an independent charity and decided to change our name to truly reflect the type of service we were providing. Leisure for Autism (charity number 1076305) supports school age children (and their families) with an ASC by providing a range of stimulating and structured activities during the school holidays. We help children who either can’t cope with mainstream play schemes or who are refused entry to them because of their challenging behaviours. We provide a safe environment in which their unique needs can be met, supported by a high ratio of specialist staff.
- To promote, support and sustain the emotional and physical well-being of young people with an autistic spectrum condition (“ASC”) by enabling them to participate in self-determined leisure activities focussed within their local communities.
- To support the parents, carers and siblings of young people with an ASC by providing them with respite.
- To advance the education of the public in all matters concerning ASC.
We carry these out by running play schemes for children and young people with ASC.
These schemes are held during the school summer holidays.. We also run three separate monthly Saturday schemes.
For more details on these please go to our ‘Play Schemes’ page.
Updated December 2013