The first Autism Special Interest Group (ASIG) meeting of the year took place last week as staff from MacIntyre’s southern regions gathered to share knowledge, insight and best practice about autism.
The theme was happiness and wellbeing so the meeting began with each member of staff talking about what makes them happy. Some of the key topics included family, food, pets and travel; what was clear was that happiness and wellbeing means something different to everyone.
The group was lucky to be joined by two guest speakers, the first of which was David, the parent of Ben, who has been diagnosed with autism, and Jonathan, who is suspected of having a diagnosis of autism. David talked about the challenges of supporting children who have autism and how these challenges were overcome with involvement from the whole family.
“As the parent of a child with autism, you have to throw away everything you think you know and start again.”
– David, parent of Ben and Jonathan
Our second guest speaker was Sue Checkett from Pets as Therapy, who was joined by Dodger the dog. Dodger has been trained to be a therapy pet to help people with their wellbeing and anxiety, and has been popular at one of our services in Milton Keynes.
Involving the people we support
Involving the people we support is important within all of our Special Interest Groups. At the ASIG, we heard from the people we support about what happiness and wellbeing means to them through a short video. Answers ranged from sports to music, socks, friends, relaxation and hobbies, but as with the answers given by our staff, it showed that each person is different. The Wellbeing group from our Milton Keynes Day Centre also created a collage to show their thoughts on happiness and wellbeing.