We believe that people with autism have many needs but also many strengths. Pennyhooks gives a purposeful, safe and compassionate farm community to support young people with ASC to find their niche..
We support students to join with the rhythms and routines of the Farm’s daily life, as well as taking part in accredited work based training. The result is that they gradually develop skills which contribute to them leading purposeful adult lives.
Autism is a condition that affects an estimated 1 in 80 of the population. There is a wide spectrum of those living with autism. Many of the students at Pennyhooks are at the complex end of the spectrum. Some have little or no spoken language and also some significant movement difficulties, including repetitive actions. All display difficulties with social awareness and most are unable to interact or communicate with those around them in a conventional way. Others suffer from acute sensitivity to noise, light, smells and touch. Yet they are also perceptive & seem glad to have opportunity to use their strengths to contribute to the greater good, and they can learn & use practical skills if sympathetically supported.
Our emphasis at Pennyhooks is on creating the right environment for our young people to thrive; our farm jobs are adapted to suit them, and our three purpose designed buildings have lots of light and space. Our staff are experienced and our ethos is clear: always be kind; work from success to success; do not confront & try not to say no; and give as much support as needed. Our guiding principles are:
- Compassion: we will treat our young people with ASC with respect, kindness and patience.
- Avoid conflict: we will not confront our young people, but instead develop their potential and celebrate their achievements. We will work from success to success to help them 'want to come back the next day'.
- Develop their inner person: we will always seek to enable the ‘inner person’ to emerge; we will nurture and support the development and growth of the individual in their new skills and aptitudes.
- Put the farm at the centre of everything we do: we will care for the farm, its animals and produce. In return, through the rhythms, routines and seasons, it will care for us, reducing anxiety and facilitating the growth and development of our young people’s new practical & personal skills.
- Enable meaningful employment: we will provide practical support and training to our young people to develop their work skills & as much independence as possible, working together as supportive co-workers in all we do. This will, in turn, enable them to make a meaningful contribution to their local community.