My transformation from probably the most awkward to the most improved student started two years ago when I moved into my new home, where I’ve been enabled to live more independently by ubu. I’d had two adult placements in the past but they didn’t work out because my behaviour was too challenging for most people to deal with. I’d also started to go to college but that failed too for much the same reasons!
I’m autistic and have some learning difficulties and a language processing disorder. My life had been tough at home. I know that I was aggressive and threatening, sometimes for no obvious reason to those around me. It was hard for other people and frustrating for me. I’m 6’5” tall and people have told me that I’m not the easiest guy to manage. Some people have in the past written me off as being too unsafe to live in supported living. Thankfully ubu could see beyond all of that and recognised my potential, helping me to develop a more positive plan for my future.
The ubu enablers who were working with me helped to set up a training programme with the challenging behaviour team designed for the staff at the local college. It was put together so they could understand what makes me tick and find better ways to support me to succeed.
Gradually things started to change. Not in me at first but more in the way people communicated with me and how they acted around me.
I noticed several things. A good example is my headphones. I used to snap them all the time especially when I felt frustrated and angry. ubu enablers told me I would have to save up for new ones. It was very direct and clear communication from them. Of course I often used to fly into a rage as a result. But in time I started to deal with it myself. I went off and bought new headphones from the pound shop and I no longer felt angry with everyone else.
It was the little things that changed, nothing that seemed really major to me. I was encouraged to get more regular sleep. It made a proper difference to how I felt each day. I decided to stop taking my stuff to college to swap with the other students because it was never a fair deal.
College became easier to go to. If I had had a ‘bad’ morning the tutors seemed to know about it and would try to keep things calm for me. I think enablers from ubu kept in close contact with them to let them know if I wasn’t feeling great.
Things got better and better and last July I won ‘The most improved student’ award for 100% attendance. Imagine that. I used to get thrown out! It was the proudest day of my life when the local radio station presented it to me - it has pride of place in my bedroom.
I’m really much happier now and I don’t feel as angry nearly as much as I used to. Everything has changed for the better since the people around me have found ways to communicate better with me, and I’ve found ways to feel calmer and deal with things that I used to find so difficult. Now I get out and about and have fun with my friends. For example, I went to an amazing dance festival this year, a first for me, which was really good.
Next up is finding a proper job where I can use the skills and knowledge I’ve been working so hard for – and then a girlfriend…