ANYONE who has seen Rain Man could be forgiven for thinking that every adult with autism is a genius at maths but socially awkward.
But the reality is very different from the Hollywood film.
Andy Beech is manager of Whitegates residential care home for autistic adults in Worksop and has seen at first hand the different forms the condition can take.
“Rain Man is misleading. Autism is a spectrum condition, we have some people who need a lot of care and don’t speak but communicate in other ways, and some who have university grades,” he said.
The care being given at Whitegates so impressed Worksop electrical switchgear manufacturers Eaton it has chosen it as its adopted charity this year.
One of the first projects has been to create a sensory room.
Andy said: “There are lots of sensory issues to do with touch, taste and feel, which can be over or under sensitive.”
“Some can see the flicker of a strip light and it builds anxiety which can be quite distressing.”
“A label in a shirt can feel like a razor blade rubbing against their neck, and a mild curry can taste like a vindaloo.”
Eaton, on Dukeries Industrial Estate, celebrated its 100th birthday last year and wanted to mark the occasion by finding a worthy local cause to support.
After inviting charities to apply, it chose Whitegates, on Sparken Hill, which is run by Norsaca.
Andy, 45, said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. It’s difficult being a charity at the moment with budgets and the economy as it is and Eaton have helped us in so many ways.”
“Rather than just giving money, they have offered us people to do the work.”
The sensory room will include bubble tubes, water lights, a projector, lots of squishy small balls and tactile objects, bean bags, music and optical fibres.
Eaton’s production manager Margaret Coulthard said the donation for the sensory room was several thousand pounds.
She said: “We chose to support Whitegates because they don’t seem to get a lot of funding. We went on a visit and saw that it was a mammoth task and that they do need a lot of help and support.”
“They put together a wish list of all the things they would like and we have managed to buy everything on it.”
“The room has been replastered and we are going to redecorate it and then kit it out.”
Margaret said Norsaca gave a presentation at Eaton and employees have volunteered to give up their own time to help out with projects at Whitegates.
The company donated £300 for the food at the care home’s Christmas party and had also given just over 100 of their old employee lockers to the charity.
Margaret said: “We don’t just want to offer money, we want to be involved over the year. We’re already planning to help at the annual summer barbecue.”
“It’s clear that for the staff, working at Whitegates is a vocation, and we’re proud to be associated with them.”
Whitegates has 12 residents but the sensory room will be available for the use of other autistic people living around Worksop as well.
Andy said that Norsaca is the fourth largest provider of autism care in England.