We have been supporting people with Autism for over 25 years to live their lives in ways that work for them.
Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people communicate with and relate to other people, and how they experience the world around them. Some people with autism say the world can feel overwhelming, which can cause considerable anxiety and taking part in everyday life can be difficult. Many people have a very literal understanding of language and think people always mean exactly what they say, so can find it difficult to use or understand different facial expressions, tone of voice or jokes and sarcasm.
People can also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain. Imagine walking into a room full of people – you would usually notice who they are, what they are doing and how you fit in. When someone with autism walks into the room, they might notice the sound from outside the window, a pattern in the carpet or a flickering light bulb instead of the relevant details that would help understand the situation, making the world a lot more confusing.
At Certitude we believe that everyone can achieve amazing things when they are supported in the right way, and people with autism are certainly no different! You can read about some inspirational people supported by Certitude below.
We can all make a difference by being aware of what having autism might mean for someone and making small changes, such as:
- Not judging people, but being patient, asking if they are OK and giving people time and space if needed
- Letting people know if plans change in advance
- Inviting people to join you so that they don’t feel excluded or isolated
- Giving people time to respond
- Considering the environment – lots of little things can add up to an overload of sensory information, so try to avoid talking over each other, turn down music or even just offer to dim glaring lights
For some people, particularly when they have a learning disability, mental health support need and/or a physical disability, having autism can be challenging and day to day life without the right support can be difficult. Our role is to make sure each person has support that works for them and enables them to make the most out of life. Below are some stories about people with autism we have supported through different situations.
Certitude Support Manager, Matt Lancaster supports people with autism whose behaviour can be perceived as challenging. Theo has autism and learning disabilities and has an amazing team who are incredibly creative in providing support which is tailored exactly for him. Theo recently needed to go to the GP for a check-up and Matt worked with healthcare professionals to help better understand Theo’s needs. Matt made sure Theo’s first visit to the GP was just to say ‘hello’ and get to know everyone and the environment. Matt worked with the GP practice, to make different adjustments, for example if there is a wait for his appointment, Theo can wait in a quiet room and make himself a cup of tea.
Theo has now been able to stop taking anti-psychotic medication after many years and is successfully reducing his other medication. He even attended Certitude’s annual Award Ceremony in 2017 to support his team winning an award – something which previously would have been incredibly difficult for him. The support Matt and the rest of Theo’s team has provided has been instrumental in changing his life and the opportunities he now has.
Mike has autism and communicates with few words. He was watching TV one day when he suddenly stood up and began screaming excitedly. This is his way of expressing his love of football and, most importantly, Manchester United! This gave Deputy Manager Emerson Lancheros, Support Worker Umal Sheikh and his support team the idea of arranging the trip of a lifetime to Old Trafford!
The trip was full of firsts – the first time Mike was staying somewhere other than his home or with his parents in over a decade – a huge accomplishment for him and something Emerson and Umal are very proud of him for.
Mike overcame many obstacles, such as experiencing long travel journeys and crowded areas. New, unfamiliar environments and changes in routine with new activities can be difficult for him, but because of the skills, dedication and commitment of his team the trip was a huge success and has paved the way for new opportunities and experiences in the future.
“I love mascots and enjoy getting into character, having already been a mascot for Oxford United Football. I apply to the places myself and am supported to interviews by Support Manager Mark Wallis and my support team – I even worked at Legoland as a Host for Lego Therapy, teaching children how to play and build with lego. Mark always encourages me to follow opportunities I’m interested in. His support has encouraged me to work towards independent travel and I now travel around London by tube myself. I’m looking forward to moving into my new flat later this year. It’s great that I am involved in every part of the process – making sure I have a say in how my flat will be built and being part of the recruitment process.
I enjoy going to a Drama course every week. I’d love to be on TV one day just like Jonny Depp. Being an actor will allow me to give others a better understanding and awareness of autism, it can be frustrating when people don’t understand. It’s important for people to get a better understanding from a young age – I would love to train kids at school, of course in my mascot outfit!”
*names have been changed to protect people’s identity