The Senses Australia Girl’s Club was formed to foster friendships among young women with Deafblindness, while learning skills of hair and makeup. The purpose of the group was to bring together a group of young women with Deafblindness, and develop social skills over a shared activity. Participants in the group experience significant isolation in their everyday lives, some finding true friendship for the first time as young adults. These young women all have additional developmental disabilities, including CHARGE syndrome and epilepsy, requiring specialised support to meet the complexity of their learning needs. The intention of the Girl’s Club was to further support building of connections among the group of friends, while participating in an age appropriate activity, therefore reducing the experience of isolation felt by these young women.
The group is run by an occupational therapist, with the support of a communication guide. Five young women, who experience Deafblindness, participated in the group. Some of the participants were supported by support workers and Auslan interpreters.
The focus of each session was determined by the participants, ranging from learning to braid hair, do eye makeup, and yoga. The group was run at the Senses Australia office. The original concept of the group was created by the participants of the group, and it is hoped that the group will continue without therapy supports in the longer term.
Anecdotal feedback from the group to date has been positive, with participants and their family members noting increased participation in grooming tasks at home, and reduced isolation through strengthening friendship ties with fellow group members. The co-design structure of the group has been a positive factor in increasing the sense of ownership the participants feel over the group, and it is hoped that this has empowered the participants to develop and participate in similar groups in the future.

Emily McDonald
Senses Australia

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