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Youth Service Partners with College to Raise Awareness of Autism

Youth Services

Photo of Deputy Youth Service Manager Joel Cottingham with training staff standing next to the Autism Reality Experience Bus - 26 September 2023 

Hailsham Youth Service has partnered with Hailsham Community College to raise awareness of autism among young people, with students being given an insight into the condition on Tuesday [26 September] as the ‘Autism Reality Experience’ was brought to Hailsham.

Funded by Hailsham Youth Service’s Safer Wealden Partnership contribution, around 80 students took part in the Autism Reality Experience, an immersive and hands on training facility which has been developed to give non-autistic people an experience of the sensory processing difficulties faced by people on the autism spectrum.

The youth service made arrangements for the hire of two Autism Reality Experience buses (mobile simulators) and Training2Care staff for the whole school day to allow students the opportunity to undertake this immersive experience.

Gaining a perspective on the effect of sensory deprivation and the impact of hypersensitivity, young people were given the opportunity to better understand some of the challenges facing those affected by autism in day to-day-life. The experience provided students with some insight of the sensory overload and other factors experienced by people on the autistic spectrum, helping to change the way they think about the condition.

Those taking part were given a series of hands-on tasks to carry out, while being distracted by noises, smells, flashing lights and textures, simulating the heightened sensory input experienced by those on the autistic spectrum.

Already commissioned by the NHS, care providers, universities, colleges and schools, emergency services, prisons and families, the Autism Reality Experience continues to develop and give a greater understanding of autism.

Joel Cottingham, Deputy Youth Service Manager at Hailsham Town Council said: “It was fantastic to have the Autism Reality Experience visit Hailsham, useful awareness training which provided an invaluable insight into how everyday life can be difficult for people on the autistic spectrum, enabling the students who took part to see life from the perspective of those who have sensory processing difficulties and walk in their shoes.”

“The Autism Reality Experience demonstrated to Hailsham Community College students how difficult it can be for autistic people to retain information and what effects having a neuro-diverse brain can have. I hope more schools take part in the experience in the future to raise their awareness.”

“My colleagues at Hailsham Youth Service and I would like to thank Training2Care for providing such an insightful experience, and the Safer Wealden Partnership for initially providing the funding for the project.”

Enquiries relating to this media release

Terry Hall, Communications Officer
Hailsham Town Council, Market Street, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 2AE
Telephone: 01323 841702 | Email: