Clapping for our carers

Each week, we are going to highlight the incredible work of some of our amazing carers who work across the UK supporting autistic adults. Today we meet Michael and hear what the team has put in place to support him during this time.

Pre: coronavirus, Michael struggled with any sort of change to his routine. He has a structure what items he buys each week, what clothes he wears, what he eats each day and what activities he will do on specific days. For example, in April, Michael celebrates his birthday by visiting Deep Sea World; in July he looks forward to a yearly visit to a safari park and each August, a trip to Ayr beach.

Over the last few years, the team at the National Autistic Society has made a great effort to support Michael to prepare for changes that do need to take place. For example, the team spent six months of careful planning in order to decorate Michael’s bedroom. The whole process was planned down to the minutest detail and the team around Michael remained consistent throughout to ensure it all went smoothly.

With the current pandemic, it has been an extremely stressful and difficult time for Michael. The changes and the uncertainty of the situation has meant that the team has had to change some routines and explain why to Michael. Each week, members of the team support Michael to go to Glasgow, to show him that the shops are still shut and that the lockdown is continuing.

The team around Michael, has managed the situation exceptionally well. They have continued to maintain his routine and access the community where possible. On a daily basis, the team come together to discuss how to best support Michael and overcome each fresh and unique challenge that presents itself. Staff have been proactive and creative in their problem solving.

Every Sunday Michael goes to Morrison’s to complete his weekly shopping with list of specific items that he expects to buy. It quickly became apparent that not all of the items would be available. As a solution, staff independently contacted the manager of the store to explain the situation. They asked if each week the store could put all of the items Michael purchases away for him, so he is guaranteed to complete his shopping.

Every Sunday, when Michael goes shopping, one member of staff follows behind with the pre-prepared trolley. If Michael is then unable to get an item from the shelf they take it out of their trolley to give to him.

This is one example from the many times the team has problem solved to keep Michael’s stress levels to a minimum. It sounds like a small thing but it has made a huge difference to this man’s life and considerably lowered his levels of anxiety. We hope that all supermarkets can follow this manager’s lead and take into account the extra difficulties autistic shoppers and their families and carers are facing right now.

Thank you to all our frontline staff, who are continuing to work hard, keep our autistic people safe and find new and creative ways to support them.

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