Making Choices

I support a young man called Simon. Simon has a diagnosis of Autism meaning he has some trouble with social interaction and communication.
Simon is someone who relies heavily on routine and structure, he tends to do the same activities on the same days each week, but within this routine there are choices to be made. Choices like what film to watch on cinema day or how to get somewhere (car, bike, walk?) These, of course, along with the choices we make every day e.g. tea or coffee etc. It’s these small everyday choices and informing people of our decision that we take for granted.

Simon knows exactly what he wants but may have some difficulty in letting you know. If Simon wants to tell you something he will often leave clues around the house for staff, however, if staff don’t pick up on these clues straight away this causes Simon great anxiety and the situation can escalate quite quickly.

With one of the MacIntyre Promises in mind “Use lots of different ways to support me to understand and make choices” I aimed to find a way for Simon to express his choices which best suited him.

I started with small decisions with just a few options; one day when we were going out I asked Simon if he would like to go on the bike or walk, Simon said ‘I don’t know’. I asked Simon if he would hold his hands out, I touched his left and said ‘walk’, I touched his right and said ‘bike’. Simon then put his left hand straight behind his back and his right hand forward. I then asked Simon if he was saying he would like to go on his bike and he said ‘How do you know that’ this is Simon’s way of saying ‘yes’.

Knowing that this had worked and that Simon had really engaged with the interaction was exciting; it meant that Simon had a simple way of letting me know his decision.

A few days later I was supporting Simon and asked him if he would like orange or blackcurrant juice, Simon put his hands out and said ‘Which one?’ This confirmed to me that the interaction had stuck with Simon and it was a tool that myself and the rest of the staff team could use to support Simon with making choices.

I am now working on different ways to support Simon to communicate other choices and decisions, and seeing Simon engage with these things is fantastic.

Sometimes it is easier for people to assume what someone wants (and I’m certain people do this with the best of intentions) but trust me… taking that extra time to support someone to make a fully informed choice, by themselves, and seeing the difference it can make to someone’s life is worth
every minute!

Francesca - photo_blog

Francesca Coyne
Senior Support Practitioner
Best Practice Mentor: Great Interactions


  • Wendy Cook says:

    A lovely blog Francesca and a great outcome for Simon 🙂

  • Fay Walker says:

    What a lovely blog and how great that you have come up with a new and creative way to support Simon to make his own choices. We are lucky to have you.

  • Maureen says:

    Fantastic blog Francesca. You really work well with Simon and this shows in all aspects of the support given

  • Tess Marshall says:

    What a great way of supporting Simon to choose, it was a lovely story to read.

  • Andrea Parr says:

    Francesca, I know Simon really well and he is such a wonderful young man who has so much character. I think it’s a wonderful blog and when I first read it I thought how creative you have been. You have really understood Simon and spent time understanding what he enjoys and how he enjoys things to reach such positive outcomes. I think this is such an inspirational blog Francesca. Thankyou so much for taking the time to write it

  • Maureen White says:

    A Fantastic Blog Francesca, Well Done.

  • Sally Lee says:

    I’ve loved reading this! The difference in Simon’s communication is wonderful to see. The extra effort you have put in to supporting Simon to make more informed choices and the creativity you have used to make it person centred has made such a positive outcome for Simon. Well done!!

  • Emma Killick says:

    Brilliant blog Francesca thank you for taking the time to share this with us.
    It’s great that you took the time to reflect and find such an inventive yet simple way for Simon to be able to communicate his choices and preferences. I’m sure there will be many positive ways he can build on this now. Well done.

  • Rowan Jackson says:

    Amazing, well done both of you. The little choices are so often overlooked but are the ones that make up our daily lives, you have really empowered Simon and given him a tool to take control of his daily choices. I love that this can be used by his whole team and will inspire them too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Telephone 01908 230100 Email