Spotlight On: Autism

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Spotlight On
What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people perceive and interact with the world. Some people say that the world can feel overwhelming and so causes considerable anxiety, but that a known structure and routine help reduce this anxiety. Autism is more common than many people realise, as in fact more than 1 in every 100 people in the UK have autism. People from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds can have autism, although it appears to affect more men than women.
 
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that although people with autism share certain difficulties, they will all experience autism in different ways and to differing extents.  Autism is also present alongside other conditions, for example a learning disability or a mental health problem.
 
Each person’s experience of autism is unique. Carr Gomm ensures that each person’s support is as unique as they are by providing the right support, at the right time.
 
What's our approach? 

All too often, people focus on the challenges that are faced by people with autism, such as difficulty socialising and experiencing sensory overload. This is not how we see people. 
 
We see how amazing each person is and want to help the world to see this too. We always focus on the positives, whilst assisting with the difficulties, to allow each person’s true potential to shine through.
 
People with autism are often fantastic with precision tasks: maths, drawing, making replica models, reciting books or films, recalling dates and facts from memory, or completing jigsaws without looking at the pictures. We encourage people with autism, and those around them, to focus on these strengths in order to lead a fulfilling life.
 
We also support many of our own colleagues who have autism. At times, employees may require more support than others from their managers and colleagues, which requires patience and understanding, but there are many areas in which they can excel above and beyond those around them. We encourage everyone to maximise these opportunities to learn from one another. 
 
One of our colleagues was experiencing extreme anxiety due to her autism; by putting in additional support and supervision and adopting a patient and encouraging approach, our colleague is now flourishing within her role; she is an excellent role model and is well-liked by the people we support.
 
Examples of our approach
 
All of our support is person centred. We put the person first, customising everything to their needs, wishes and desires. We ensure this happens when supporting people with autism by…

• writing clear and precise support plans that detail each person’s structure and routines
• using each person’s preferred communication method, including Talking Mats and Storyboards
• running an autism focus group where the people we support can tell us how we can improve their support
• organising autism-friendly outings and film showings
• making use of sensory rooms

Sam's Story

We supported Sam* to move into his own tenancy in the same city as his family. We made sure the right support was in place so that Sam could live independently and engage with his local community.

We had to think outside the box to adapt Sam’s house to his needs; making sure that the bathroom was fit for purpose and all fittings and fixtures were safe and secure.

One of the main challenges facing Sam was that he didn’t like anything to be in his bedroom or on the walls, and he would communicate this by pulling things down.  This meant that we had to find an alternative to curtains or blinds so that Sam could get a good night’s sleep.  We managed to source and fit external shutters, with the controls installed in a separate room so they wouldn’t become a source of distraction for him.  This meant that Sam could sleep peacefully.

In just over three months, Sam has settled into his new home and is thriving living on his own for the first time.

*name changed to protect confidentiality
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