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Craig, Lifeways Resident

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder, (ASD) can be described as a complex, lifelong developmental condition. Autism (ASD) is a spectrum disorder and is defined by a certain set of behaviours that affect everyone with autism differently and to varying degrees throughout their daily lives.

The DSM-5 Manual which is used to diagnose autism in the UK defines autism spectrum disorder as “persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction” and “restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests” which includes sensory-related behaviours.  

What are some of the core characteristics of autism?

  1. Difficulties in social-emotional exchanges. This can range from understanding social rules to failure in understanding the usual back and forth of regular conversations, reduced or lack of shared interests or difficulty initiating or responding to day-to-day social interactions and communications. 
     
  2. Difficulties in understanding and integrating the use of nonverbal communicative behaviours that can be used for social interaction and communication. For example, eye contact, gestures, body language and facial expressions.
     
  3. Difficulties in developing, maintaining, and understanding the fundamental and basic rules of relationships. This can range from being able to adjust behaviour to suit various social contexts, for example having shared interests or knowing when someone is not interested in your chosen subject, to difficulties in sharing thoughts, feelings and emotions which enable the building of intimate or close relationships, friendships, and other social connections.
     
  4. The need for sameness, predictability, and consistency. Rituals and routines can be vital for the feelings of safeness and the ability to manage the demands of daily life. This can be very rigid and encompass all areas of life or be around particular or specific areas of an individual’s life.
     
  5. Sensory differences. Many individuals on the autism spectrum have sensory differences which means they experience the world around them differently from others. They may experience sensory input too much or too little or have unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment - meaning they may have apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with or an aversion to lights or movement.

What is supported living for people with autism?

Supported living for people with autism allows people to live as independently as they are able. Individuals have the independence of their own accommodation but with the reassurance of extra support when it’s needed. The amount of support provided depends on the individuals’ unique needs - it could just be few hours a week, through to 24-7 guidance and or support.

How Lifeways support people with Autism?

We at Lifeways understand that individuals on the autism spectrum may struggle with various aspects of their lives but we also recognise that they also have huge potential, with individual hopes, dreams and aspirations, which should always be listened to so people feel understood and are supported to live the most meaningful life possible. 

Our focus at Lifeways is on supporting the individual’s ability and we are proud to help and support people to lead more fulfilling lives, often achieving the most amazing things.

We provide different support options depending on the level of support needed, and this includes supported living and residential care. Our locations are specially adapted to support people to live as independently as is possible for them, containing assistive technology where possible to make lives safer and easier for the people we support. 

What does the support at Lifeways include for people with Autism?

At Lifeways, safety and the quality of life are two of the most important parts of our support, which is why we spend quality time with the individual, their family members and care professionals to gain an understanding of the challenges the person may have already overcome, along with setting clear developmental objectives relating to their autism which we encompass into each individual care and support plan. 

Our aim is for people to self-direct their support as much as possible, helping them to exercise choice in all aspects of their daily lives. Our experienced teams are trained in Positive Behaviour Support, and so where individuals may have been previously described as exhibiting “behaviours that challenge” in certain situations, we believe in taking a proactive approach and ensuring the focus is on understanding what the individual is trying to communicate. 

Craig’s story 

Craig lives with learning disabilities and is on the autistic spectrum. In his mid-teens he was bullied which affected his self-esteem. “Craig was having a very difficult time,” says his mum, Sandra. “My biggest worry was about the level of support Craig needed.” 

Finding the right support through Lifeways has changed Craig’s life. His support worker has helped him learn how to use specialist software to organise his daily schedule, keeping track of his activities week-by-week, and supporting him to plan for the future.

To find out more about how Lifeway’s helped Craig, read his story here.

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