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Our latest blog comes from Kirsty Taylor who is the Manager of our Adult Flexible Day Service in Retford, Tall Trees. Kirsty has been with Autism East Midlands for 18 months, starting as a Support Worker and working her way up to become a Service Manager. In her blog Kirsty tells us about how Matty, a service user at Tall Trees, was supported to move into one of the organisation’s Residential Services, Carlton Road in Worksop. This blog therefore highlights the collaborative work between services to produce the best support for an individual, and this blog is no different as Kirsty was assisted to write this blog by Carlton Road Service Manager, Wesley Williams who has been at Autism East Midlands for 24 years.

Autism East Midlands are continually revising and adapting how we can best support Service Users in every aspect of their lives. For myself, an Adult Day Service Manager, this means, not only supporting our Service Users within our Day Service setting but also supporting families.

We have supported Matty at Tall Trees Day Service in Retford for several years. Matty has complex needs and requires 1:1 support. This 1:1 support helps Matty communicate; as he is non-verbal; to promote independence by supporting him to make meals and drinks for himself and to help Matty access the local community and all the places he loves to frequent. Matty lived at home with Mum up until the middle of last year, when Matty moved into our Supported Living Accommodation at Carlton Road in Worksop.

The transition for Matty was aided by resources available to Tall Trees, this included social stories to explain new routines and ensuring Matty had familiar staff with him. Our Flexible Support Staff meant that Matty already knew several staff members at his new home and some of his fellow house mates whom he had met in his Day Service setting.

The staff at Carlton Road and here at Tall Trees have communicated daily to ensure consistency and awareness around Matty, who has continued to access Tall Trees to ensure consistency in his routine. Carlton Road have been working on promoting Matty’s independence by strengthening and expanding his skill set.

After Matty has settled in, Mum was invited to Carlton Road to go and see what Matty had done with his bedroom, Tall Trees also supported Mum and Matty with their initial meeting since the move which was a great success, with Mum commenting that Matty looked calmer and happy. With support from Carlton Road Matty went home to Mum for Christmas Day, they had a lovely day as a family. When the hustle and bustle of Christmas became too much for Matty, Mum asked if he wanted to go back to Carlton Road, Matty did. Mum commented to us how much calmer he seemed through the day. To the right is a photo of Matty and Mum on Christmas day, Matty loves a good SnapChat filter!

For Mum, this was a huge change. Mum had always gone above and beyond in supporting Matty to stay at home with her, for those of you with Autistic children or adults at home, I’m sure you can appreciate how daily life is consumed by accommodating their needs and wants. But as parents, that is what we are supposed to do, isn’t it? We feel that only we can provide what we do for them.

And this is true. However, for some, Matty being one of them, making this change into Supported Living has been a positive life changing experience for both himself and Mum. Matty has a level of independence now that has helped him to flourish into the young man he is and Mum gets to enjoy the benefits that this brings.

Moving your son or daughter into a form of Supported Living does not mean you are giving up on them, nor have you failed. It means you can support them in becoming the best version of themselves. Matty’s Mum has expressed the all-consuming guilt she felt during this move and still feels now, but she is also pleased to see how well Matty is doing and how happy and healthy he is. With the right support, this can be the making of our young adults.