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Robert's story: Life without restraint

Robert enjoys ten pin bowling“We all enjoy Robert’s visits– when we see the car pull up it makes us smile and we know to get his coffee going.  It’s then usually a choice between a Viennese Finger or a sausage roll for Robert – they seem to be his favourites. Although he doesn’t really talk we still have a chat with him and he signs back – we’re getting better at understanding each other with every visit.” 

Until recently, simple friendly exchanges like this with Lindsy (pictured right) at the local bakery were a distant possibility for Robert, due to the behaviours which accompanied his autism and learning disability. 

He began being supported by Avenues in 2013 after his situation in another supported living service had begun to deteriorate.

Lindsy

Service manager Mel Bentley (right) explained: “When we started working with Robert, he was extremely anxious and needed five-to-one support to manage his behaviour. He would punch, kick, bite and headbutt; but it wasn’t because he wanted to hurt anyone – he was just so distressed and didn’t know how to control or communicate it.

“He would destroy property, climb walls and run away, so the demands on support were incredibly high - he was being restrained multiple times each day, as well as being prescribed older style antipsychotic medication, which ultimately just added to the problem.

“We all believed this could change, and that he could be happier and healthier. By finding effective ways for us all to communicate, and working with his family, we began to really understand his personality and the routines he wanted to follow.

Service Manager Mel Bentley

 “We also made sure all staff that supported him had additional autism training, so they had an insight into what he might be feeling and how the subtlety of his non-verbal communication. It started to make a difference really quickly.

“All this work still goes on every day and I’m so proud of Robert and his support team. He hasn’t had any antipsychotic medicine for two years, been restrained for 18 months and his support needs have halved from five-to-one to two-to-one.

Support workers Seun Aina and Yemi Adesina work closely with Robert to give him the consistency he needs to be happy on a daily basis and support his positive behaviour.

Seun (pictured below left) explained “Picture Exchange Communication Cards are a really powerful tool - we still use these every day as Robert enjoys the process. They mean he can be clear about what’s happening now and next, and feel in control, which is all really important to him.

Yemi (below right) added: “It’s great to see Robert’s progress through the days, weeks and months, and it’s a pleasure to work with him. Getting his morning routine right has made a massive difference to his general happiness, and everyone who works with Robert understands this and follows the pattern. It’s a very different world for him now. He’s living life, enjoys going out to the shops, loves bowling - and those occasional visits to the bakery!”