An autistic middle aged man from North Tyneside came to ubu some years ago. He had behavioural difficulties that caused him issues when out in public, such as chasing buses, collecting litter and on several occasions had taken newspapers out of the hands of strangers.
It was the goal of this man to achieve a greater level of independence, whilst those close to him were very concerned about his safety in public places. After all, a total stranger would potentially be completely unaware that this man was autistic, and that his behaviours were a product of his autism.
So the goal became to support this man to become aware of what might happen as a result of his actions. Armed with a greater awareness and a sense of understanding he would be able to engage with his community, becoming involved in more projects/activities and even taking on a therapeutic working role.
Complex behaviours can result from a number of factors. They can be due to problems with communication: Communication difficulties can impact on how people with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) deal with social situations. They may find social situations very demanding or stressful because they have to work hard to communicate with other people. Not all people with an ASD will understand that other people hold different views from theirs. This may also make social situations difficult.
People with an ASD may not understand 'social rules' - the unwritten rules that govern social situations, such as how close to stand to other people or how to take a turn in conversation. This is especially true if they find themselves in a new, unfamiliar situation. Therefore, social situations can be daunting and unpredictable. Some people may engage in a particular behaviour to try and avoid social contact altogether.
People with an ASD can also be very sensitive to subtle changes in their environment. If there's a sudden change in behaviour, this could very well be the cause.
All these examples and more need to be considered when providing support to someone with an ASD. It is not simply a case of telling someone to stop performing a certain behaviour. This will not improve the situation for anyone. Instead support should be given that creates a greater awareness and understanding. Whilst it will, in many cases, be an on-going process it is essential in helping people to grow and develop; leading to a much greater level of independence.
As is evident in the case of this Tyneside gentleman, when a proper uStep plan is put in place and executed correctly the results speak for themselves. This man has achieved more than he, and other people thought possible, and continues to grow and develop.
Information about Autism:
At first the North Tyneside man didn’t understand why this type of behaviour was not acceptable and was unaware of the potentially dangerous consequences, despite prior intervention and guidance.
It was therefore decided by ubu that he would be involved in intensive therapeutic work, particularly around communication. This was a gradual process that involved both 1:1 and group sessions to increase awareness and comprehension. At all times the man was encouraged to express his thoughts and feelings about the support sessions, this meant he was much more comfortable in discussing openly and honestly the things he didn’t understand. The result of this is that he now comprehends the hazards around his behaviours and takes the time to listen to advice before acting.
Now armed with a greater understanding he has been able to dramatically improve his lifestyle and the activities he can take part in. He has a real passion for his garden, in which he grows a variety of flowers and vegetables. This hard work has paid off, as he was recently awarded a certificate of excellence in a local gardening competition.
He is also enrolled in a cookery and art class at his local night school and continues to learn new skills like general computing and web browsing! However, one of his greatest achievements is gaining employment with a local cleaning company. As well as this representing the attainment of a long time personal goal, it has also greatly improved his self-confidence and independence, whilst making many new friends.