Mary, Tony and Matthew’s story

Autism affects people in different ways. For Matthew, who also has learning disabilities, it means his ability to communicate is limited, and he experiences constant anxiety. Even small alterations to routine can be upsetting. So support staff are faced with a challenge: how can they ensure that Matthew continues learning and developing, while limiting the stress of change?

Fortunately, Matthew’s support workers have built up a relationship with him over many years, and are skilled at working with people on the autistic spectrum. They’ve formulated a tried and tested routine, which includes daily outings, shopping, cleaning and a visit to the carvery on Saturdays. But from time to time, changes are investigated and introduced gradually.

For example, when Matthew’s borderline diabetes caused his weight to fluctuate, staff researched types of exercise that would appeal to him, before gradually introducing swimming sessions. Matthew now enjoys swimming twice a week, and has already lost a few pounds.

Mary and Tony, Matthew’s parents, are delighted with the care their son receives. “He’s 56 this year so they don’t push him,” explains Tony. “They just gently open doors. Do you want to go through? And if he does, then they go with him.”