Routine is everything to Mark. He is a very orderly man and his days are governed by the routines which help him maintain a tranquil mood. He is tidy and precise in his appearance, taking pride in his smart turnout and polished shoes.
Mark has lived at Somerset Court, a service run by The National Autistic Society (NAS), since it opened in 1974.
Everything in Mark’s life has its place, to the extent that he has a plan for the disposal of leftover food. His life is regulated by times and dates, without which he becomes extremely anxious. This need to plan and organise is fundamental to Mark’s peace of mind. He is adaptable, but needs time to process information.
Mark loves talking about 'fluffies'. He adores meerkats, koala bears, the fur around the hood of his coat, anything fluffy. Touch matters to him. He had a toy cat which he used to stroke; now he kisses a pet monkey toy and will instigate conversations about them and want others to join in.
What furniture is in your bedroom? Bed, radiator, toy owl, teddybears, dogs, polar bears.
Somerset Court has a small farm, where Mark goes to work with the animals and he enjoys the garden centre. Structure is essential.
Do you go to work? Garden centre. What do you do there? Compost. Spread the compost.
Although Somerset Court has a large spread of land and many facilities, people enjoy going out. Mark doesn’t have particular friends, but he is happy in a group. He is sociable, but always follows - he has never been a leader. He likes going bowling, or to the cinema. Sometimes he joins outings to the pub, where he’s partial to a lager.
Do you have your own money to spend? Yes. What do you buy? Cokes, crisps, cakes, honey.
There is a menu to choose from at every meal – Mark’s favourite meal is ham, egg and chips.
When decisions need to be made concerning Mark’s life, he is given choices wherever possible, sometimes with the assistance of an advocate. Mark is verbal and so long as he understands, he can make his wishes clear, with 'Yes, please' or sometimes a forceful 'No, thank you'.
His father lives abroad, so although they are in contact, Mark’s brother is involved in decision making.
The house where Mark lives has recently been renovated and he has much more space, which he has decorated using soft greens and creams.
He has his own living room, with a shelving unit to display his ornaments and small fluffy animals, a rocking chair and television, where he can relax on his own. The staff at Somerset Court do not enter rooms without permission. There is a passkey to all lockable rooms, but these are for safety, rather than day-to-day access.
Having a key to his own bedroom and bathroom doors has given Mark the privacy and dignity that is entirely appropriate for a gent of his age.
Do you take any tablets or medicine? Yes. What for? Drink then back hurts.
Mark’s health has been good in general, but he is in his early 50s and is having problems with his back. Mark has been very patient and coped well with the building work, but as order and tidiness is so important to him, it is possible that the upheaval has caused stress. The pain might be due to an age-onset condition, or there could be another cause. He is waiting for an appointment with a consultant.
Mark has recently lost his mum, to whom he was very close. He went to her funeral. There is now a memorial stone to her in the local church, so he can visit, talk and remember her.