On Sense Holidays, U’nite gets to find her inner adventurer

U’nite is 16, and has been coming on Sense Holidays since she was little. She has profound hearing loss, and is partially blind. She’s got a heart condition too, and has had three heart operations.

In this blog, U’nite’s mum Althea tells us why Sense Holidays are so important to their family.

On a big inflatable play area, a girl with braided hair, wearing an orange top and dungarees plays with a colourful toy.

U’nite is a really smart, strong girl. She’s always known what she wants, since she was a baby. She gets on and does her own thing.

When new people – carers, school teachers, and others – meet U’nite for the first time, they read about her condition first, and they get nervous. They think things like “Oh my God, she’s got complex needs”.

But once they start working with her, they see how smart and loveable she is.

She amazes you sometimes with the things she does.

Sense understand U’nite’s needs like no one else

I first heard about Sense when U’nite was still a baby. They’ve been brilliant. Sense has been there with me all the way from when U’nite was little, helping with things like her education, health and care plan.

A lot of social workers or teachers haven’t understood U’nite’s needs, because she’s multi-sensory impaired.

But Sense understand. They have been brilliant. They’re so passionate in what they do, and they’ve shown so much concern.

The thing she struggles with the most is communicating her feelings. She’s non-verbal. So if she’s feeling anything, I’ve got to try and work it out from the things she does. For example, if she’s feeling hungry, she might go into the kitchen.

She also sometimes communicates using a picture system called PECS.

U’nite has had so many experiences on Sense Holidays

U’nite started going on Sense Holidays as a small child. At first, I was a bit skeptical of her going. Now, she goes every year, and she loves it.

When it comes to anything involving adrenaline, U’nite’s all for it. She’s an explorer, and she loves to be out and about. It’s right up her street.

She’s highly active, and she loves being with people.

With Sense, U’nite has had so many experiences. She’s been deep in the countryside, walking in the forest; she’s been on a boat; she’s been to a farmyard; she’s been swimming, and toasted marshmallows around a campfire.

On her latest Sense Holiday, she visited a big activity centre, with other teenagers. It was a bigger and more adventurous holiday than she’s done in the past. She tried climbing, trampolining and even went on a zipwire!

It’s a good break for me, and I’m happy that she gets to explore and have fun. I know they look after her very well.

When U’nite is on holiday, I get a much-needed rest

It can be hard for me during the school holidays. U’nite loves to get out and explore, but we haven’t really got much she can do around here.

Her carers will take her out, but there’s not really a centre for her to go to where she can do things like climbing.

That’s why I’m really appreciative that she gets to have a week away with Sense. Because even if I took her on holiday myself, she wouldn’t get to do so many activities every day.

I’m not like Unite; I’m not an explorer, and all of that. And there’s not many places where she can go.

That’s why Sense Holidays are so crucial for her. I don’t know of anything other than Sense that would give her a holiday like that.

It’s important for me, too. While she’s away with Sense, I can get some proper sleep. My sleep’s not being disturbed.

I don’t know what I would’ve done without Sense, to be honest. There’s nobody else that gives me that support to understand my daughter myself, and who fights for her needs also.

It’s not easy when you’ve got a child who is multi-sensory impaired. It’s hard work, and I’m tired. Without Sense, I don’t know where I would be.

Sense Holidays are more than just holidays

Sense Holidays give disabled people like U’nite the chance to have adventures and broaden their horizons. And they give carers like Althea a much-deserved break.

Your support helps us provide this opportunity for people with complex disabilities and their families.