We support Maeve who is 18 years old and has autism. She relies on a structured routine which helps her manage everyday life. She is due to leave school in July 2017 and we knew we would have to start to prepare Maeve for changes in her routine.
Maeve usually goes home to her Mum and siblings on a Friday afternoon, spends the weekend with them and returns to school on Monday morning. This is a big part of her routine that will change when she leaves Wingrave.
In preparation for this change, we began by speaking to everyone that works with Maeve to find and agree on the way to best support her. Her link worker met with the Speech and Language team and her teacher, and a social story was written to help Maeve understand that things would be different.
Both the school and her house used a visual timetable to show Maeve what was happening and when. The social story was read to Maeve everyday by someone in her staff team and this was placed in the covered notice board as Maeve will post the symbols she does not like.
The first weekend that Maeve did not get her taxi as usual she was clearly unhappy and anxious during the evening. Staff tried to distract her with activities that Maeve usually engages in, but with little success. It was clear that something needed to be done differently for Maeve.
The next change in Maeve’s usual routine would not happen for a month, giving staff time to reflect on what had worked and what had clearly not. The team met to discuss new ideas on how to approach supporting Maeve with changes. We used resources available to us including ‘My Key to Developing Facilitation Skills’ with which we were able to identify that the house environment needed to be calmer and potential triggers for Maeve removed.
During the intervening month staff used every opportunity to tell Maeve about the changes. When sitting with her we enthusiastically talked about how much fun we were going to have at the weekend at Wingrave and what we were going to do. We made up rhymes, songs and clapping games that we played constantly with Maeve, which she showed she enjoyed by initiating them with staff herself.
The crucial Friday rolled around and Maeve went to school as usual. Her timetable showed afternoon activities, ‘hydro’ being her favourite. This clarified to Maeve that she would not be going home that afternoon. The staff team ensured the house was a calm and relaxed environment. Maeve initially showed her displeasure at not getting her taxi but unlike the previous time this only lasted around ten minutes before Maeve allowed herself to be distracted and engaged in an activity. She enjoyed a busy and more importantly happy weekend choosing all her favourite activities.
The following month the team continued to support Maeve in the same way and she was happy to return to the house and carry on with her activities
It is going well: Maeve continues to initiate the sing along for other activities that she likes.
The staff team did a great job reflecting and facilitating a positive outcome as it can take young people at Wingrave a long time to understand and accept many things in their life and change is particularly difficult for many of them.
Head of Service