“Before Avenues started supporting us, we had some very tough times.”
Tom is 10 and has a learning disability. His speech is limited and his behaviour is sometimes challenging. Looking after Tom had started to affect his mum’s health.
Tom needed two support workers to successfully manage his behaviour. He would sit on the floor for hours and refuse to move; he would spit, swear and be physically aggressive. In shops, he would pull things off the shelves and try to break them. Lorraine, one of Tom’s support workers says, “It was hard with Tom at first, however with consistency and patience we soon started to build a relationship.”
Tom’s support workers saw he was inquisitive and that he enjoyed being in the town centre. He also had a great sense of humour and enjoyed having fun with others. That gave his support workers something to build on. As they built a rapport with Tom he started to engage more. He grew visibly more content and observed boundaries with his behaviour. After eight months, Tom’s support needs had reduced and he needed only one support worker. At this stage, Tom’s support started to focus on promoting independence, including dressing, eating and expanding his vocabulary.
To promote physical health and wellbeing, Tom is encouraged by his support workers to do as much exercise as possible. He is supported to take a weekly swimming class as well as going to a play centre where he can safely climb, roll, and jump. During his weekly supported trips to the town centre, Tom is learning how to greet staff in shops and what to say when buying something. On supported visits to the cinema, Tom now concentrates on the film and enjoys it. Lorraine says, “The first time we took him his behaviour was challenging. He rolled down the aisles, pulled the hair of the lady sitting in front and ran outside and started kicking the lift doors. He’s a different person now. He enjoys himself and it is a pleasure to be out with him.”