For the final day of Autism Awareness Week 2020, we are sharing the story of *Joanna, an inspiring lady we support in Wrexham, Wales.
When Joanna was introduced to MacIntyre she was incredibly anxious, struggled with her self-worth and would often pull out her hair to show distress. She would spend a lot of time in her bed and would often refuse to come out or interact with others, becoming more and more isolated.
Slowly, the team from MacIntyre in Wrexham got to know what was important to Joanna; that she liked her CD's to be organised, that she needed reassurance when out and about in the car and that her appearance meant a great deal to her.
For years due to anxious behaviour, the decision was made by a previous provider for Joanna's hair to be cut short, to discourage her from pulling out her hair. However, when staff from MacIntyre in Wrexham noticed that Joanna was drawn to pretty dresses and began to enjoy making choices about what she wanted to wear, the team decided to ask Joanna how she felt about her hair.
When asked whether she liked her hair as it was, Joanna responded with a firm 'no.' This was the start of a transformation for Joanna. Staff worked to support her when she felt anxious, helping her to handle her emotions. She began to grow out the front of her hair, which had an immediate effect on her confidence.
Staff continued to support Joanna to make choices. She bravely took a trip to the hairdressers where she decided to have her hair styled and dyed, something she wouldn't have had the confidence to do before.
For Joanna, supporting her meant knowing what she liked and disliked, what would cause her distress and how to manage this. Staff would identify when she was beginning to feel anxious. They knew she would retreat to her bedroom and quickly learned that how they phrased a suggestion of going for a walk or doing an activity could impact whether she would take part or not.
Since working with the team in Wrexham, Joanna is now a woman with confidence; having moved into a new home, taking pride in her appearance, volunteering with local organisations and meeting up with friends.
*Names have been changed
If you would like to find out more about our support in Wrexham, please get in touch.