When Jay* first came to MacIntyre No Limits he was in a state of high anxiety.
A new environment
Attending college was his first change of setting in twelve years, and it coincided with his older brother moving away to university.
Although Jay seemed interested in the new car and new people who had come into his life, everything was a struggle: getting out of the house took hours, and getting out of the car in the community was nearly impossible.
Jay's communication was limited, and for the first few weeks almost all his staff team heard was ‘no’ as he declined every experience and activity offered to him. When he did come out of the car it was very briefly and fraught with anxiety for both Jay and his staff.
Concerns for the future
At this point everyone was concerned – No Limits staff, college staff, Jay’s parents, other professionals – that the placement would not be right for him and that the package would be withdrawn.
Turning things around
Thankfully, a combined approach of psychiatric input and hard work from MacIntyre No Limits staff began to turn this around. Christmas songs, a favourite of his, began to bring Jay out of his shell and we discovered that he had a fantastic memory for both lyrics and tune. Staff used this interest to begin using Intensive Interaction techniques to teach Jay that he could work with us.
Over the subsequent two years, Jay’s communication skills blossomed. He began to spontaneously use full sentences, jokes and banter, and clear statements of what he wanted and needed. He developed the skills to get out and about safely and successfully, and began to enjoy connecting with his peers.
He even went on work experience, combining his love of churches with his love of cleaning to take on the role of dusting a local parish church.
Engaged and independent
Instead of “no”, Jay’s key phrase by the time he left MacIntyre No Limits was “can I come in?” He became eager to explore, and comfortable to enjoy activities, make choices and take steps towards independence such as making his own hot drinks and taking part in cooking.
Jay’s progress from the disengaged and unhappy young man we first met to a lively and active participant in his education programme was wonderful to watch. Jay’s No Limits experience enabled him, once he left us, to make sense of, and decisions about, his adult daily life.
*Not his real name
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