It has taken me quite a while to get to writing this blog as it is so very difficult to choose just two success stories to tell you about. Every individual and family that we work with is inspiring and unique, all with their own individual challenges and achievements. I am really proud of our families. Just last night I received an email and said to Ludo, "oh we just have the best family at the moment we are working with". His response? "Oh lu, you say that with every email you receive from your families!" Running an intervention programme is not easy.
It takes a lot of bravery to walk against the crowd telling you that nothing can be done. It takes a huge amount of organisation to balance implementing the programme, contact with us, learning new skills, balancing work and ensuring other relationships remain invested in and strong. Our families all tell us that it is worth it, though.
Story number one: Ben, France
This young man was 27 years old when we met. His family spoke no words of English and I spoke GCSE French (ie very little!). Ben had no verbal language, no independent play skills and spent most of his time completing academic work and looking at children's books. Ben engaged in a lot of self stimulatory behaviour and had to be asked to go to the bathroom.
Our first three goals were to give Ben lots of things to play with and entertain himself with during the day, to teach him to toilet independently and to give him some communication. Ben was absolutely amazing and his family worked so hard in a face to face capacity every three months and then by Skype and email every fortnight. During our first consultation Ben acquired 7 vocal mands (the ability to ask for 7 things he was motivated for) and begun to play with lots of new items and activities. Within 6 months Ben could ask for over 200 things spontaneously, was independently going to the toilet and had 53 items and activities he could play with by himself and with those around him.
Story number two: Ken, England
Ken's sister got in touch with us when Ken was 47 years old after their mother passed away. He was living in a care home with elderly people and spent all of his day in his room which was kept locked for his own safety. Ken's sister explained to us that he wore nappies even though he could toilet when asked, he had nothing to entertain himself in his room and he couldn't ask for anything. The care staff did not know how to help him and kept his room locked as he had escaped on numerous occasions and had hit himself and others. Ken's sister was keen to learn all she could to connect with her brother when she saw him twice a week and there were two care staff who were also extremely keen to learn all they could. Because of claims of aggression and absconding, we had to begin carefully to protect Ken. Our first meeting was extremely special. We brought in a selection of activities and games, from drawing through to books through to children's and teenage games. It turned out that Ken LOVED to draw, loved to interact and did not like books much! It was so easy to motivate Ken and in our first time together he learned to ask for the toilet, to ask for juice, for snack and for crayon and card (a snap card). Within just a few weeks he had many, many mands and lots to play with during his days. After six months he was allowed to not have his door locked and to toilet independently. Ken has not become conversational, but be is able to interact with his sister and to play games with care staff and some of the residents. He also spends a lot of time drawing on the white board in his room when he is on his own. Ken still doesn't like books very much!