Innovative facility to offer teenage support

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Brinsley’s innovative and revolutionary day care centre for teenagers with autism is the only one like it in Nottinghamshire.

The facility – due to open just after Easter – offers people with autism, learning difficulties and other disabilities the chance to improve their learning, develop their skills and mix with other people.

Cllr John Booth, Brinsley Autism facility.

Cllr John Booth, Brinsley Autism facility.

Brian and Sally Hodges own a care home for people with autism in Cordy Lane and built the new dare care centre at the back.

It offers a selection of rooms where people can play, carry out arts and crafts, cook and socialise.

The facilities offer a lot more than meets the eye and have been carefully designed by the Hodges after lengthy work with specialists to help teenagers develop their learning and increase self-awareness.

One of the rooms offers play equipment designed to ‘integrate the senses’ – something people with autism struggle to do.

Sufferers, for example, can look and listen, but not both at the same time. The play equipment is cleverly designed to rebuild the maps in their brains that trigger co-ordination.

There are seven acres of land at the back of the facility, which will eventually be developed into allotments and tracks for walking and cycling – another activity good for integrating the senses.

Mr and Mrs Hodges decided to go ahead with the project after failing to be able to find a care home for their autistic son that offered additional facilities.

They said they searched the whole county and found nothing like it.

Mrs Hodges said: “Our son is profoundly disabled and we knew we wanted something for him that offered a specialist facility with community resources on site and there was nothing.

“There’s massive need to cater for people in this area.”

Mr Hodges said: “I remember speaking to the owner of one care home and when I asked what the residents did during the day she said: ‘We take them to a day centre twice a week’.

“I asked her what they did for the other five days and she said: ‘They potter round the garden’. She said it like it was completely acceptable.”

Mrs Hodges said after two years working on the project, she is looking forward to opening up and getting started.

“We’ve been working on it for two years so it’s nice to finally put it all to use. It’s good to know we will be helping people to become calmer and understand themselves better.”

The couple, who have had good feedback from interested parties so far, raised the money for the facility mainly through donations.

As a registered charity, they made between £10,000 and £12,000 from donations, and were given a grant of £1,500.

The centre will initially be open Mondays and Saturdays and there will be a £1.50 charge per visit.

Residents in the care home will also have access to the centre.