Stephen is a 23 year old gentleman with a severe learning disability and autism which includes a hypersensitivity to noise and issues around how his day is structured and routine. He’s been living at Southview since 2014 when he transitioned from children’s services.
Stephen has a limited vocabulary and echolalia. Supporting staff have therefore adopted a method of communication that requires Stephen to answer any questions with a “yes” or “no”. Stephen loves visiting stately homes and cathedrals, video games and anything Harry Potter.
Years of progress
When he first moved into Southview, Stephen was a high risk absconder who’d take any opportunity to run away. Stephen also at that time exhibited behaviours that challenge both inside and outside the home. This included throwing objects, hitting and throwing himself into any body of water. He had no concept of danger so without 2:1 support at all times, he would be very much at risk.
But that was the past! It has taken many years of careful planning, positive risk taking and gradual exposure to situations that might cause Stephen stress and anxiety to reach a point in his development where he is able to venture out for successful day trips with his support team. Stephen’s gradual desensitisation to stressful environments and situations have now enabled him to move on to more complex and adventurous activities.
The planning commenced
After several discussions with Stephen, during which he was offered choices of activities, it was decided that a day trip to the Isle of Wight would be a great day out. It had all the elements that Stephen enjoys including castles, sensory experiences, picnics and dressing up. Stephen was very enthusiastic about the prospect and started to count down the days until it was going to happen. A confident staff team began planning the trip, which included a visit to a local boating lake beforehand to familiarise Stephen with being afloat.
The plan was set and Stephen’s support team considered every conceivable eventuality in terms of risk and how it might be mitigated.
The big day out
The day started with breakfast and a short drive to the ferry terminal in Southampton. Once on board, Stephen enjoyed venturing to the deck to watch the passing boats.
On arrival to the Isle of Wight, the fun began. They visited Carisbrooke Castle where Stephen had the opportunity to dress up as a knight, which he loved. They also enjoyed a picnic, a visit to the garlic farm and an encounter with a peacock! After a very full but enjoyable day it was time to return to the ferry terminal and start the journey back to Southview.
Stephen enjoyed his day so much, him and his support team are already planning future activities and are looking into ways Stephen could progress his independence skills further.