I used to live with my Mum but she developed dementia and could no longer look after me. I have Down’s Syndrome and some learning disabilities. So about two years ago I moved to my own home enabled by ubu.
I used to be a really happy person and chat to everyone, I was a real “wind-up merchant” too; but that all changed when my Dad passed away. I know all my friends were confused about what had happened to me. I stopped being the bright, ‘mouthy’ individual they all knew and became withdrawn and stopped talking for seven years after my Dad died.
I could understand exactly what people were saying but I was simply no longer able to talk. I just shook my head. My lovely brother and sister-in-law got really upset because sometimes I would cry but couldn’t tell them what was wrong. I felt so frustrated by it too.
The ubu enabling team who supported me when I moved into my own home, were eager to help and encourage me to find a way to communicate with my own words again and be happier in everything I do. I started to go to a speech and language therapist and began to use easy-read visual communication books so I could tell people what I wanted to do next. They had pictures which I could point to when I wanted to say something or when I needed to choose between things. It really helped me to start expressing myself and my choices again.
Although everyone was keen to hear me chatting again nobody rushed me. People talked to me but they understood that I need time and encouragement and they weren’t annoyed if I didn’t talk back.
After six weeks of this gentle therapeutic treatment I surprised everyone, myself included, by saying “no” during a conversation with someone in my house. Although she was thrilled she didn’t make a big thing of it and just kept talking. Before long the word was out that Roger had spoken!
Three months later I was talking every day. Nothing major, just single words, responding to people when they talked to me, saying “yes” and “no”, but it was a start. I think that it was a big step forward. I didn’t even need to keep going to speech and language therapy because I had made such great advances myself along with the love and support I had from everyone around me.
As I started to talk again the ubu enablers and my friends kept asking me questions so they could help me to find my own voice to say what I wanted. After a while we all agreed that it would be even better if I stopped just answering “yes” and “no”. I tried to say what I wanted for my tea from a choice of two different meals.
Although I still wasn’t talking much to my family or my friends at the Day Centre, I go to, I did say the odd word which everyone was happy to hear. One of my first major breakthroughs came after just over a year when I told my ubu enabler “going to mum’s?”
From there on it seemed as if the flood-gates opened well and truly and I started talking again as if I had never stopped for all those years! That was the tip of the iceberg. Since moving into my new home I have turned my life around. In fact you could say I’m a new man. I’m three stones lighter and now much healthier. I go to the gym and have started swimming for the first time ever in my whole life. What an achievement? I’ve come to love my life, my home and my social life is the envy of my whole family.
I can tell people how I feel and what I want to choose to do next in my life instead of holding it all inside and crying or feeling frustrated. I’m also back to my old self, “winding” people up with gentle good humour and flippant fun. I know that my friends have missed that about me. Now they just pretend to get annoyed with me because I make them giggle. They love it really!
Follow us @ubusupport