Who we support
Touch Trust supports a community of people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) and those who have complex sensory needs such as Autism.
PMLD is commonly associated with pronounced Developmental Delay with significant physical and sensory impairments and Epilepsy. Most people with profound and multiple disabilities will have physical disabilities and will be unable to walk. They may have hearing and sight problems. They will communicate non-verbally, that is, they will not speak or if they do, will use only a few words. Some may use signs and symbols or look and point to what they want.
Apart from their health complications, the main disadvantage that people with PMLD face is social exclusion. This exclusion has been heightened during the recent pandemic. Families and care providers can find that going out or taking part in activities is too risky due to their health, so they do not have the same opportunities as non-disabled individuals. It is difficult to find activities in which they can participate safely which also have the necessary equipment for their daily needs such as private changing facilities and hoists to sit comfortably.
For many, their physical impairment can make everyday tasks and activities challenging, causing frustration and resulting in behaviours which some will see as challenging.
“At last, we have found a place to go, son”.
This is a quote from a father who came to our sessions, describing his relief that he had finally found a place where they felt included and found some respite in the company of our members of staff. As a result of being excluded, people with PLMD and other multi-sensory needs such as Autism have very few friends outside of their family and they can live in isolation. In the area we work in South Wales, there are a very limited number of places where they can safely play outside their schools, so many of our participants travel as far as an hour to hour-and-a-half drive from home.
“Disabled people remain significantly less likely to participate in cultural, leisure and sporting activities than non-disabled people” (Taking Part Survey 2011 to 2012).
It is suggested that there is a significant lack of choices in further learning and life-long learning for their future well-being (Townsley 2013, 2014). Often, our session attendees have few role models from disabled groups and many experience real or perceived discrimination. Some also develop long-term challenging behaviours and other behavioural issues due to lack of opportunities for authentic self-expression.
“Having an active social life can help people with a learning disability to feel happier, included and valued” (Mason et al. 2013; Chadwick et al. 2014; Wilson et al., 2017)
Touch Trust is committed to supporting our community to access fully inclusive creative arts experiences for all our participants across Wales and beyond.