Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people communicate with and relate to other people, and how they experience the world around them. Some people with autism say that world can feel overwhelming, which can cause considerable anxiety and make taking part in everyday life difficult.
Many people have a very literal understanding of language and think people always mean exactly what they say, so can find it difficult to use or understand different facial expressions, tone of voice or jokes and sarcasm. People can also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, taste, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain.
At Certitude we believe that everyone can achieve amazing things when they are supported in the right way. We can all make a difference by being aware of what having autism might mean for someone and making small changes, such as:
For some people, particularly when they have a learning disability, mental health support need and/or a physical disability, having autism can be challenging and day to day life without the right support can be difficult. Our role is to make sure each person has support that works for them and enables them to make the most out of life. Below are some stories about people with autism we have supported through different situations.
Certitude Support Manager, Matt, supports people with autism who behaviour could be perceived as ‘challenging.’ As an organisation, we don’t subscribe to this idea – people are not being challenging, but sometimes we are being challenge, and therefore need to work harder to provide better support.
Theo has autism and learning disabilities, and has an amazing team who are incredibly creative in providing support tailored for him. He recently needed to go to the GP for a check-up and Matt worked with healthcare professionals to help better understand Theo’s needs. Matt made sure Theo’s first visit to the GP was just to say “hello” and get to know everyone and the environment. Matt worked with the GP practice to make other adjustments; for example, if there was a wait to his appointment, Theo could wait in a quiet room and make himself a cup of tea.
Theo has now been able to stop taking anti-psychotic medication after many years and is successfully reducing his other medication. He even attended Certitude’s Annual Award Ceremony in 2017 to support his team winning an award – something which previously would have been incredibly difficult for him. The support M
Mike has autism and communicates with few words. He was watching TV one day when he suddenly stood up and began screaming excitedly. This was his way of expressing his love for football and, most importantly, Manchester United! This gave Deputy Manager, Emerson, and Support Worker, Umal, and his support team the idea of arranging a trip to Old Trafford.
The trip was full of firsts – the first time Mike was staying somewhere other than his home or with his parents in over a decade – a huge accomplishment for him and something Emerson and Umal are very proud of him for.
Mike overcame many obstacles, such as experiencing long travel journeys and crowded areas. New, unfamiliar environments and changes in routine with new activities can be difficult for him, but because of the skills, dedicated and commitment of his team the trip was a huge success and has paved the way for new opportunities and experiences in the future.
“I love mascots and enjoy getting into character, having already been a mascot for Oxford United Football. I apply to the places myself and supported to interviews by Support Manager, Mark, and my Support Team – I even worked at Legoland as a Host for Lego therapy, teaching children how to play and build with lego. Mark always encourages me to follow opportunities I’m interested in. His support has encouraged me to work towards independent travel and I now travel around London by the tube myself. I’m looking forward to moving into my new flat later this year. It’s great that I am involved in every part of the process – making sure I have a say in how my flat will be built and being part of the recruitment process.
I enjoy going to a Drama course every week. I’d love to be on TV one day, just like Jonny Depp. Being an actor will allow me to give other a better understanding and awareness of autism, it can be frustrating when people don’t understand. It’s important for people to get a better understanding from a young age – I would love to train kids at school, of course in my mascot outfit!