Sunday Life

| 9.7°C Belfast

BBC programme to follow families at new autistic retreat in Co Fermanagh


Close

Grainne Ashe is the founder/operator of Adams camp also has an autistic child called Rose.

Grainne Ashe is the founder/operator of Adams camp also has an autistic child called Rose.

Grainne Ashe is the founder/operator of Adams camp also has an autistic child called Rose.

Meet the woman bringing a new US style of therapy for children with autism to Northern Ireland.

Grainne Ashe, whose daughter Rose is autistic, was inspired to create the programme following a visit to Adam's Camp in the United States in 2015.

She has since set up Adam's Camp Northern Ireland in Co Fermanagh in a bid to help families raising children with autism.

Grainne features in a new BBC documentary this week - Inside Autism: A Tiny Bit Of Magic - which follows the families of four children with autism as they attend the NI camp.

She says: "I was so inspired by what was happening in America for the treatment of autism. We had our first camp in Ballycastle in 2016 with families from Northern Ireland.

"I just felt a huge commitment to the autism community here. When you have a child on the spectrum, no one teaches you how to parent that child.

"Rose is very sensory seeking and very sensitive to noise and light. If it was rainy or windy we couldn't leave the house. If we were out and it started to rain she would just throw herself on the ground.

Grainne Ashe

"I love Northern Ireland and I love living here but the resources for children with autism were failing us. I just felt like I was drowning and suffocating under the weight of it all and I couldn't see a positive future for her.

"Our first Adam's Camp we went to was in 2015 in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in America. It was the best thing I ever did for my child because that week was life-changing, not just for Rose but for every member of our family."

The NI camp, based on the US model, uses therapists from different disciplines to help improve the lives of the children.

Families attend in the hope the therapy methods used across the seven days will help their children with behaviours which could put them at risk while also providing access to support for the whole family.

The residential camp planned for this summer at the Share Discovery Village in Lisnaskea has been postponed due to Covid-19.

"My dream is that every child with autism can experience an Adam's Camp week," says Grainne. "Adam's Camp is not a cure for autism, we never say that, there is no cure for autism. Your child will have it for life but what there is, is hope and that's what I like to say - Adam's Camp will give you hope.

"We always have animals at camp in some way; some of these kids are just so locked-in and to see even a second of them reaching out to touch an animal, that's a connection.

"It's mixed emotions because it's lovely to see them having that interaction but it makes me feel sad, too. It just makes life so hard for them and it can be so challenging for them to interact with a person.

"It's an amazing week but it's also an emotional and overwhelming week, it brings up so many feelings. They're given a kick-start and it just takes them a little time to be at home in their own environment to continue until they reach their goal.

Close

Grainne is pictured with her family.

Grainne is pictured with her family.

Grainne is pictured with her family.

"I do believe that these children have so much potential."

  • Inside Autism: A Tiny Bit Of Magic is on BBC One NI this Wednesday at 10.45pm.
  • More information about Adam's Camp NI can be found at adamscampnorthernireland.org

Belfast Telegraph


Privacy