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Want to know what it's like to have autism? Mobile tour gives people the chance to experience the condition first hand

PUBLISHED: 06:30 17 March 2017

The Autism Reality Experience mobile unit from Training 2 Care

The Autism Reality Experience mobile unit from Training 2 Care

Archant

Carers in Dereham have been given a better understanding of the effects of autism thanks to an innovative new simulation launched in the UK.

The Autism Reality Experience has been developed to give participants a first hand experience of the difficulty people with autism have in processing certain senses in an everyday environment.

Autism carers from Westfield House in Dereham were asked to carry out basic tasks while they were completely overwhelmed by light and sound through special headphones, glasses and gloves.

They were then given a de-briefing where their actions were assessed and analysed, and they were encouraged to explore strategies and techniques that will help them to improve care and support, based on the experience.

It took Training 2 Care over two years to develop the simulation and they worked closely with a number of specialists, as well as autistic people to ensure it is as accurate as they can make it. Now that it has launched they have made it available to anyone in the UK thanks to a mobile unit.

Training manager Chelsey Cookson, who was a key figure in its creation, said: “There were a couple reasons that I wanted to be involved in this project, firstly we have had a lot of success with another experience, which is our virtual dementia tour and my manager, Glenn Knight, realised that there is currently a huge gap in the market for a similar type of training for people with autism.

“I also wanted to become heavily involved because I have an autistic son and I have often found that his needs aren’t clearly understood by people that are around him and that is especially true when it comes to the sensory side.”

Ms Cookson added that the company hopes to offer the training to carers and people working in education. She said: “I think everyone should be aware of this side of autism and I’d love to take it not only to care providers but also to schools, so many schools just aren’t equipped enough to make the changes that are needed to help autistic people.

“I think it is vital for carers because I don’t think you can help autistic people unless you can see world from their perspective. So far care homes, home care providers, people in social care, parents and carers have all found it really useful, and it has been made generic enough to be applicable for all.”

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