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Service offers a break for young.

A SMALL group of youngsters with autism were able to enjoy a series of activities including picnics, art, music and watersports this summer thanks to staff at the Birmingham's Extended Schools Service.

The Access All Areas scheme has been set up by extended service co-ordinators in the south of the city to provide holiday projects for youngsters with a range of disabilities.

Managed by Selly Oak extended service co-ordinator Alison Selvey, this summer's programme offered places to 30 children a day over two weeks - but the team are well aware that they could operate the play-scheme many times over.

"We have to limit ourselves to 30 children a day because of funding," says Alison.

"We deal with children with complex disabilities. Most of them are included on the autistic spectrum but they might have other disabilities as well."

With funding provided from across 15 extended schools co-ordinators, Access All Areas also took a group of 12 children to Butlins in Minehead for a few days.

Nowin its third year, Alison says the holiday scheme continues to grow - but is nowhere near meeting its need.

"This year is the largest project we have done," she says.

"We have links with the special schools and children's centres and inform them of the project but it fills so quickly.

''We have had about three times the numbers of children wanting to come on the play scheme than we have been able to cater for.

''We have had to turn people away as we cannot take any more in our current form.

"The aim is for the children to have as many activities as possible so we take them out for days and offer a range of sensory activities. But we also know that for some children what they need is a quiet space so we make sure that is also available.

"It all depends on the needs of the children."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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