Emma’s Fostering Blog
At home Family life is centred on Dan’s needs as he is unable to care for himself as other peers of the same age and he relies on us for all his day to day needs.
He has ASD and displays obsessive rigid thinking which means he can’t get thoughts out of his head and he often sees things differently to other people.
Dan gets very emotional and overwhelmed with films, books and in Social settings and he definitely doesn’t understand sarcasm and he’s very literal so reading emotions can be hard for him. It’s pretty annoying and upsetting for him because sometimes he may do, or say something wrong and his peers don’t really understand and laugh at him. Sometimes for Dan the smallest things are very challenging and he does lack confidence and concentration on certain things, and when his friends find the same tasks easier this really frustrates him.
At home we use social stories as this helps us both with communication as this is a two way process and therefore the social impairment is a difficulty shared by both of us. Young people such as Dan with complex needs, need to be helped to prepare for the differences they will encounter as they become older and they become to notice they are different from their peers.
We are at this stage with Dan, so for some time now, and it’s not been easy! Alongside his Social worker we have been helping him to understand that the autism related behaviours are simply part of how he was born, not something bad, weird, or broken, focusing on his strengths. Explaining differences as just that, ‘differences’. Explaining that those differences are part of how his brain is wired and just that his brain works differently.
At first he would become overwhelmed or even angry, especially when he learned that his differences have a name, and that name is part of the Autism spectrum. We have used social stories and the web to help with this, I’m not entirely sure of how much he understands at the moment but he is now able and ok with explaining when he needs to, that he has autism.
Dan has been going to swimming lessons for just over two year now and has really struggled, making little progress. Finally on Friday to our amazement he swam a length and when he realised he could do it, he swam another three. I asked him what was different tonight and he said ‘I just told myself I can do it, I won’t drown I just need to be confident.’ It was so emotional being part of his great achievement and when something like this happens it makes it all worthwhile.
My thoughts are by putting a name to the difference this has been hugely positive for Dan and has helped with reinforcing his individuality and self-confidence rather than undermine it.