Rebecca is a person we support at our residential service 579 Maidstone Road. When she first joined us, Rebecca attended college and enjoyed a structured daily routine. But once she’d completed her course her world changed, and she struggled to adapt to a new routine.
Rebecca is non-verbal and found communicating her needs frustrating. This often presented as challenging behaviour. Spending more time at home meant Rebecca was with her housemates and support team more frequently. Without being able to express herself, establishing relationships with them was difficult and, over time, she became withdrawn.
However, by getting to know Rebecca as a person, the support team found new ways to communicate with her and build her confidence. Rebecca’s now empowered to express her feelings, make her own choices, and build positive relationships!
Moving to Maidstone Road
Rebecca was diagnosed with Ataxic cerebral palsy at birth. This condition affected her brain development, which impacted her speech, balance and movement. As she grew, Rebecca started presenting challenging behaviours.
Before joining 579 Maidstone Road, Rebecca lived at home with her parents. When her behaviours became too difficult for them to manage, she joined us for full-time support.
At first, Rebecca was attending a local college full-time. This gave her a regular routine and a slice of independence. When she completed her course, the routine she’d relied on had to suddenly change and there was a shift in the support she needed.
Struggling with these changes, Rebecca spent a lot of time alone in her bedroom and needed encouragement to socialise with her housemates and engage with her support team. Spending more time at home helped her support team recognise that Rebecca had additional needs that weren’t related to her cerebral palsy.
Being non-verbal, changes to routine can give Rebecca anxiety. Her expert team recognised these as key indicators that she might have autism. After pursuing an assessment for her, Rebecca was diagnosed with autism in November 2020. Having this diagnosis helped those around her better understand her needs and behaviours, and her team could now truly tailor her support.
Creating communication confidence!
Before her diagnosis, Rebecca had been taught to use Makaton. Her support team actively encouraged her to use this technique, but also noticed how communication was affecting Rebecca. She needed other ways to effectively express herself.
Broadening her choice of communication tools, Rebecca’s team implemented visual aids and cues, such as flash cards, which empowered her to communicate her emotions and process important information – like changes to routine. Her team also introduced a ‘choice board’, featuring two pictures representing choices for Rebecca. This encourages her to make her own decisions and establish more independence!
Objects are also a valuable communication tool for Rebecca. Her team introduced a basket of items for her to use when she needs something or show how she’s feeling. For example, Rebecca might select a cup to signal that she’s thirsty, or a small beanbag for when she needs some time to relax.
These techniques have given Rebecca more confidence when communicating. She now actively expresses herself, which has allowed her team to support her in the right way. Communication was a source of frustration for Rebecca and caused challenging behaviours. Now she has lots of ways to express herself and feels understood, her challenging behaviours have reduced – opening up exciting opportunities for her!
Rediscovering her passions
Rebecca enjoyed a range of activities when she was a child. Regularly rambling in the woods, and a lover of music and dancing, she was energetic and always seeking entertainment.
By the time Rebecca finished college she showed little interest or motivation in these activities that she previously enjoyed. Before her team identified communication as a cause of anxiety for Rebecca, challenging behaviours prevented her from safely accessing opportunities in the community.
Rebecca’s cerebral palsy meant she also experienced mobility issues. Her team knew that pursuing new activities would benefit her social skills and improve her mobility.
By collaborating with a team of health professionals, Rebecca and her support team established some home-based activities that would benefit her mobility in a safe way. Introducing a swing and trampoline to the garden was a game changer for Rebecca! She’s now more enthusiastic, energetic and has seen improvements in her mobility.
Being more mobile has opened up opportunities further afield! Rebecca now frequently accesses the local community and takes trips to local places of interest. With the encouragement and commitment of her support team, Rebecca’s rediscovered her passion for old hobbies, such as rambling. She’s also trying new activities and has recently started swimming and has visited the local zoo.
Rebecca’s zest for life and adventurous interests are now shining through! Discovering she enjoys sensory play, her team implemented a sensory room for her. Since she loves spending time outdoors, they’ve extended her sensory room outside. Rebecca now has access to sand and water play in the garden – giving her hours of fun!
Although Rebecca has lots of interests and likes to keep herself busy, her team understand the importance of routine. By introducing a weekly activity planner, Rebecca plans meaningful activities that keep her stimulated and engaged. But she doesn’t always want a hectic schedule and enjoys having time to relax. Her team respect her choices and help her regularly plan down-time into her week.
Building meaningful relationships
Since Rebecca has established a new routine, she’s become more emotionally balanced, paving the way for her to build meaningful relationships.
When she first moved to 579 Maidstone Road, Rebecca would often go home to her parents on the weekends or be doing different activities. Her busy lifestyle and full-time college course meant she hadn’t made an initial bond with her housemates.
When she left college, Rebecca was supported to adapt to her new routine. As this was during the pandemic, her community-based activities stopped, and she had to spend more time at home.
Eventually, Rebecca got excited to see her Support Workers when they came on shift – she even started speaking to them! Saying “hiya”, followed by a cheeky giggle, this was a big indicator that Rebecca was happy to see them.
Many of Rebecca’s activities and interests are now shared with her housemates. She’s even made good friends with the people we support at our sister service, 351 Maidstone Road! They often meet up and go out into the community together. They enjoy fun activities like visiting the zoo or they can be found settling into the lounge for a movie night!
A bright future
Since joining Voyage Care, Rebecca’s team have supported her to transition into a new routine and lifestyle that suits her needs and interests.
From feeling uncertain and alone, to becoming a vibrant, active member of the household, Rebecca’s undergone a transformation! With the support of her team, Rebecca’s reduced her anxiety and challenging behaviours, opening up a world of opportunities for her.
Find out more!
To learn more about 579 Maidstone Road, visit their webpage, where you can watch a virtual tour of the home and download their service booklet. Alternatively, to make an enquiry about specialist autism support, fill out our quick form and we’ll be in touch!