Empower Project Helping to Address Sleep Problems

Empower Project manager Marie McCloy (on right) and Sinead Brady, Empower Project administrator.
Empower Project manager Marie McCloy (on right) and Sinead Brady, Empower Project administrator.

Difficulties with sleeping patterns can be a major problem for young people on the autism spectrum and their families.

To help address their concerns, the Empower project - which provides support for families coping with autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia in the Antrim and Magherafelt area - has included workshops to help address issues associated with disruptive sleeping patterns in its 2018 training programme.

With sleep issues identified as causing a range of difficulties for the young people and their families, the Empower Project has invited Peat NI (Parents Educating as Autism Therapists) and facilitator Suzanne Brook to carry out a number of training sessions to look at the basic science of sleep and to provide tips on how to implement a sleep improvement plan.

Project manager Marie McCloy explains that the courses will also provide guidance on addressing common sleep issues such as: settling independently, taking a long time to fall asleep, fears, frequent waking, and early rising.

“The Peat NI session will focus on the difficulties that many individuals on the autism spectrum have in regulating their sleep patterns and will give practical coping strategies for some of the common sleep problems that parents/carers can use.

“We also have a session on bullying and an introductory session to Makaton - a language programme using a combination of speech, signs and visual aids to help people who can’t communicate efficiently by speaking - which will teach basic Makaton signs and symbols and how their practical application.

The weeks leading up to Christmas were very busy for the Empower project team. Among the activities organised was a trip to the Waterside Theatre in Derry for over 30 families to see an autism friendly performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; there were also visits to Santa’s Grotto at Magherafelt Youth Centre and, thanks to the project’s continued partnership with the Youth Centre, range of fun activities were organised for the young people.

Marie continued: “Often events like these can be very crowded and noisy which can make them challenging and difficult for families of young people with autism, dyslexia or dyspraxia. It has been a pleasure for us to try and enable families to access the same activities as everyone else.”

The Empower Project also held a Christmas coffee morning for parents in Magherafelt Parish Centre, giving them some time out and an opportunity to meet with other parents. The Parish Centre opened the café specifically for the Empower Project in December and there was such a great turnout, that another coffee morning is being organised for Monday, February 12, 2018.

The coffee morning was also an ideal opportunity for project staff get feedback from parents and to discuss ideas for future programme delivery.

All activities organised by the Empower Project are free to attend. For further details, please visit www.empowernetwork.co.uk or call 02879395237 /02879395245.