As seen on ITV News Meridian:
Eleven students with autism from LVS Oxford enjoyed a trip they will remember forever on Wednesday 14th September when taking a light aircraft flight from Oxford Airport thanks to aviation charity Fly2Help.
Two groups of students saw the Cotswolds from a different perspective as they were flown over Cheltenham, Stratford-on-Avon, Oxford and even their own school, and emerged with huge grins having shared a new experience with each other. CEO of Fly2Help Alison Pavier said: “A trip like this can fill students with confidence, and show them what they can achieve. I am moved by seeing LVS Oxford’s students facing and overcoming their anxieties to put themselves in this situation today”.
With many children on the autism spectrum exhibiting anxiety, the experience provided a perfect example of how LVS Oxford helps individuals manage their worries and overcome fears to achieve things they thought were not possible. Here's what the group thought of their day:
Emma, 13, has a fear of flying, even unable to enter an airport usually, and attended only to watch her friends go up in the air. However, encouraged by the LVS Oxford therapy team to have a look on board the aircraft, followed by working through coping strategies, she bravely strapped herself in to fly and returned beaming proudly having enjoyed the trip. LVS Oxford occupational therapist Sarah Pagano explained how the school made the transformation possible: “A significant barrier to Emma coming to school was her anxiety about using taxis and minibuses. We overcame that with a number of sessions looking at various coping strategies and techniques to manage anxiety – such as imagining all the nice places she could go in a taxi and and applying gentle pressure to a pillow on her lap to provide a feeling of security and reassurance – and used similar techniques today to successfully overcome her fear of flying. It is all about breaking down barriers into small and manageable steps to make them easier to overcome. The important thing is to be patient and work through things at a pace the student is comfortable with. It is that gradual approach which makes the school so successful in a number of areas, such as reintroducing school refusers back in to education”.
Student Georgina, 15, enjoyed a particularly personal flight after asking accommodating pilot Edwin Brenninkmeyer to fly over Stratford-on-Avon to see where she lives from the air. She said: “It was brilliant to see my home town from a completely different perspective and see all the roads I travel along every day to reach LVS Oxford. The best part of the day was being able to share the experience with my friends – it was nice that we were all able to be part of the trip together”.
The visit did not end there, with students then shown around the airport’s fire service where they were able to sit in fire engines, see them in action and try out various pieces of equipment such as thermal imaging cameras.
Head of Centre Louisa Allison-Bergin added: “Our therapy provision at LVS Oxford is unique in encompassing such a range of support for our students. It is very rare for a school to have an in-house child psychotherapist as well as a nurse, speech and language therapist and occupational therapist, and it is a key element in how we enhance the prospects and wellbeing of students with autism. That is highlighted by the outcomes we are seeing, from students having the courage to do things they never thought possible like today, to obtaining incredible GCSE results this summer”.
My vision is employability and independent living skills for students with learning difficulties.