Virgin Care provides buckets of toys in Devon

Speech and Language Therapists across Devon are introducing an exciting new approach to help autistic children feel the difference.

Dawn Roberts and Lucy Bomford, Speech and Language Therapists with Virgin Care’s Devon Integrated Children’s Services, applied for ‘Feel the Difference’ funding to buy special equipment to increase the children’s level of attention and listening skills, increase social communication and improve speech and language skills.

And the special equipment? A bucket filled with visually engaging toys.

The new therapy approach uses high-interest toys and motivating activities to help children with suspected or diagnosed autism develop their ability to interact with others.  

Autism buckets Exeter and WestDawn, from the Exeter and West speech and language team, said, “Whilst shared attention may emerge naturally in typically developing children, some young children do not find it easy to focus their attention jointly with another person and this can impact on their communication, social interaction and access to learning.  Using the high-interest toys has been shown to increase attention and listening skills.”

The sessions involve small groups of children. The adult leader picks one item from the bucket at a time and shows it to the group, playing with the toy and repeating key words.

This approach is being rolled out across the whole of Devon as therapists in the Exeter and West, Eastern and North Devon teams are now using their buckets and toys to support children with Autism Spectrum Condition.

Dawn and Lucy applied for money to buy the buckets and toys from Virgin Care’s ‘Feel the Difference’ fund which is made available for ideas and projects by frontline teams which improve the experience of using Virgin Care’s services. Each year £100,000 is ring fenced to support applications for funding.

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