Small Steps with Charlie

4 July 2017
Blog post

Charlie joined MacIntyre in January 2015. She had a couple of taster sessions and decided to join Stony Coffee Shop. In the first few weeks there were lots of observations but very little communication from Charlie. Charlie is an extremely quiet, shy young lady so her eye contact was minimal and conversations were limited to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

Charlie worked in very small steps and at each stage of any food preparation she would stand still and wait for guidance with no communication at all. Her head would be low so you could not get eye contact. Staff had many conversations reflecting on our observations and how we could create something to encourage Charlie. We made Charlie a visual aid card, a sequence that showed pictures of the step by step stages on how to make egg mayonnaise and as Charlie got to each step she would cross it out. Staff made Charlie aware that we would be next to her. We bent down to Charlie’s level to give her eye contact, held her hand and asked her not to be afraid to speak to us or any other members of the team.

Charlie worked with the sequence and made a fantastic job of egg mayonnaise. She was so pleased with herself. She had done this independently. We as staff received a lovely smile from Charlie.

Charlie also used a now and next visual aid that helped her work through the morning jobs. In time we saw Charlie’s confidence grow. She is giving us small amounts of eye contact and we bend down to Charlie’s level to listen to her very quiet and very occasional conversations.

One year on and Charlie is using a visual aid menu card, going into the café and taking orders from the customers. We always position ourselves to Charlie’s level and eye contact and communication is on the increase.

Charlie is always going to be a quiet young lady but she now has a very loud smile on her face when she feels she has achieved something.

Charlie had support to add her own comment:

I feel happy to come to work and like to make soup. I like to cut vegetables. At the end of the day I like to clean fridges.

Tracey Martin

Learning Support Worker

Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes

It has taken a lot of small steps for Charlie but she has achieved 1 large stride!!!