Springs Nottingham in Brinsley offers people with autism a place to go where they can enhance their senses and enrich their lives.
The resource centre in Cordy Lane offers facilities that help improve people’s quality of life, including their sensory experience, in a friendly, safe and sociable environment.
There are four residents who live in the care home on site, and all are on the autistic spectrum with very complex needs, and need 24 hour care.
The resource centre, which is open to members of the public as well as the residents, houses a sensory room, a soft play area, an arts and crafts room, a computer room with games in and an area where people can do music.
There’s a piano and a microphone where people can record their voices, and make DVDs and CDs, a kitchen area where they cook, a fire engine outside and a large sandpit.
Polly tunnels are on the land to grow fruit and vegetables, there’s allotment areas, a two acre woodland to walk around, a pond area and an orchard area.
People can go out picking soft fruit in the summer and help with the weeding, planting and watering.
Many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information.
Any of the senses may be over or under-sensitive, or both. These sensory differences can affect behaviour, and can have a profound effect on a person’s life.
Sally Hodges is one of the charity trustees, and runs the resource centre each Saturday.
She said the different activities help the clients in different ways.
“Cooking uses fine motorskills and stimulates the senses like tasting, smelling, and touching and art is also about fine motorskills, touch and stimulating visual colour senses.”
Mrs Hodges took advice about the facilities from a physiotherapist who specialised in sensory processing disorders.
“They suggested a soft play for adults, so there’s a swing which allows you to move in circles rather than backwards and forwards which is great for brain organisation,” she said.
“Your senses are not just about hearing and tasting and smelling, it’s about your body and the space that it’s in. And your awareness of that.
“We have beanbags to sink into. Even just open space to move around safely on a padded floor.
“Feeling movement under foot is enough for some people.
“We all have a ‘virtual images’ of ourselves in our brain – that image tell us how tall we are, it can even include how big our car is, which is why you find it easier to park your own car rather than somebody elses.
“But with some of our visitors, virtual images don’t work so well.
“One lady once said she always wore a hat because her virtual image was so bad. She couldn’t tell where the top of her head ended, so the hat reminded her, as it rubbed against the top of her head. It kept her calm.”
The sensory room offers the chance to feel different fabrics and play different instruments, thus improving the senses, says Mrs Hodges.
“We have different fabrics stuck on the wall in the art room and it’s an opportunity to feel different textures.
“If somebody with autism touches a very rough surface, then they touch silk straight afterwards it helps build up their senses of touch, and helps define their senses. Some people can only feel something soft if they feel something rough first.
“Walking is very important because it gives them a sense of where their body is. It reminds people how far their feet are from their head.
“We want to offer people the opportunity to have the same rich life that we all have and that a lot of us take for granted.
“It’s an opportunity to come and be with other people, cook and chat and have a laugh.
“The opportunity to move around in a safe environment and help your body to keep working in a better way,” she said.
Service users come along with their carers, and most will come once a week every week, to give people routine.
Mrs Hodges, who co-owns the resource centre and care home buildings and land, said strict standards of the Care Quality Commission had to be adhered to in the care home, and the resource centre was purpose-built.
“Safety glass had to be used for the windows in case anybody had a fit or a fall, and even the plaster on the walls was made extra strong.”
Mrs Hodges’ son has autism and is the reason she decided to go ahead with Springs Nottingham.
“There wasn’t any facilities for him in Nottinghamhsire ,” she said.
“If he would have gone elsewhere in the country, he would have been moved back to Nottingham when one did eventually open up and I didn’t want that to happen after he had settled somewhere.”
The facility opened up in 2012, and Mrs Hodges said the people in Brinsley had been ‘extremely welcoming’.
“The local church invited the young people from the care home to go to their coffeee mornngs, and we have not had any antagonism.
“We tried to originally open up in Retford and 13 of the 15 neighbours objected to the plans.
“We have a good working relationship with the parish council, people have done fundraising for us and most important of all, people have been accepting.”
The centre is open on to the public Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10am and 1pm.
Call 07568087771 for inquiries.