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
Senior Support Practitioner
Best Practice Mentor: Great Interactions