Christmas is an exciting and fun time, but for people with autism it can be confusing and even distressing with all the new activity going on. Mark Williams, who has autism, has found Christmas in the past difficult, but with some extra planning this year from his team, and putting him in control of the festivities, he is looking forward to Christmas at Potens’ High Barn in Rochdale.
Service Manager Junior Howard Keeble explains: “When Mark first moved to High Barn earlier this year he was very anxious, had low self-esteem, and had no interaction with other service users and staff.”
Due to his heightened anxiety Mark displayed behaviours that can be described as challenging. In response the team at High Barn used positive behavioural support approaches and 1:1 discussions to address these challenges and supported Mark to express his feelings with the aim for him to engage more in activities.
“We found out Mark loves steam trains and all kinds of sports. We initially started using these as topics to drive discussion and soon Mark was engaging and interested – chatting to staff.” Junior adds.
This led to engagement in activities and in return incidents have reduced. Mark is now busy and active in the community including going on East Lancashire trains, venturing out for walks and playing tennis and bowling.
“Mark has also made progress in improving his domestic skills in the kitchen. He is now able to make his own breakfast use the toaster and microwave under supervision from staff. We now know Mark loves baking so we are supporting him to get involved in this each week too. It’s all about finding out what he wants to do and then careful planning to help him achieve his goals and reduce any anxiety he may have in achieving these.” Junior adds.
The key to Mark’s personal success is him starting to believe in himself for the first time, linked to his staff team encouraging him and providing positive feedback about his achievements.
“Mark is now confident in expressing his views about the activities he wants to do on weekly basis and is fully engaged at the service. One example is this summer, Mark really worked hard with staff transforming our front garden by weeding and decorating. He has also been shown how to dig holes, plant plants, watering and plant care in the garden – adding to his growing list of skills.”
Mark is using his new found skills to help the service get festive ready, with the team making sure Mark has been involved each step of the way to reduce any anxiety.
“We know Christmas has been an anxious time for Mark in the past so this year we have involved him at every stage – from putting up the tree to planning our Christmas meal – and now he is ready to have some fun!”
Mark’s achievements in 2016 are huge and we wish him, and the other individuals supported and our staff at High Barn, a fantastic Christmas and New Year