Getting to know each other

Dan was referred to Life Choices by the Kent County Council (KCC) Autistic Spectrum Conditions team in October 2016.  Martin (Dan's Life Choice's coach) and Dan got on well straight away.  After a few sessions it become obvious that they shared a number of common interests: films, all things Star Wars, superheroes and the same tastes in music. 

"we spent a lot of time talking about these subjects.  They really did become the foundation of our relationship!" - Martin

The early days of support

When support started, Dan rarely left his bedroom, and hardly ever left his house.  One of his early goals was to eventually stand on his own two feet by moving out of the family home in Gravesend, and into supported accommodation.  For the first few months of support, it seemed that the challenges Dan was facing would stop that from happening quickly.  Dan and Martin spent time talking about these challenges and did some travel training and some activities.  This included spending some sessions visiting a young peoples’ music project in Sevenoaks. One of Dan's goals is to have his own band one day, and Dan played guitar with other young musicians in the project.

Challenges and goal setting

Things became challenging for Dan at the end of 2017.  But by making good use of the support around him, Dan started 2018 feeling much more confident. He began to make some very positive suggestions about things that he wanted to do, and it was clear that he was beginning to take more control of his life; he wanted to make some real changes

"I remember our New Year sessions very well.  We reviewed Dan’s previous goals and spoke about the very real progress that he’d made.  The new goals that Dan set for the coming year were extremely positive and we began to look at agreeing some timescales for making these things happen." - Martin

In the early spring of 2018, Dan started talking more seriously about getting his own place.  Thinking more clearly and confidently about his future had helped Dan feel ready to make a life-changing decision and he announced that he felt ready to explore the move into supported accommodation.

Moving on

After speaking with his KCC Case Manager, Dan and Martin visited some supported accommodation.  The properties were far enough from home that he’d have to take responsibility for looking after himself, but close enough to be able to visit his family.  And of course, close enough for them to easily visit him.  After a disappointing start of finding his ideal property, and the place disappearing, a new vacancy came up in the same place.  In late May 2018, Dan moved into a lovely self-contained flat in Maidstone.  The property is managed by our colleagues at MCCH, who provide 24-hour support at the house.  Dan won’t need this but as he says, "It’s nice to know it’s there, just in case."

Dan was quite worried about how his family would feel when he told them that he wanted to move out, but they were incredibly supportive of his decision.  They went to visit the flat with him, helped him to identify the things that he needed and bought them with him. 

"My family have been great, I wouldn’t be so prepared if they hadn’t have helped me.  And my sister has become an expert at putting flat-pack furniture together!" - Dan

Once Dan’s move was confirmed, it became apparent that his time working with bemix and Life Choices would also be coming to an end.  Martin focussed on helping Dan to think through and mentally prepare for his new life. They discussed how he might gain some experience in preparation for independent living.  Dan began going food shopping with his mum and sister as practice.  Martin and Dan discussed cooking and shopping, in particular strategies for eating cheaply and identifying some dishes that he would like to learn to cook with support from MCCH.  As part of Dan's support, he and Martin also visited his local supermarket so that he knew how far it was from his new home and had some experience of what it sold.

Dan is really looking forward to having his own flat, his independence and his own space but he does have some concerns.  His big question is:

"Will MCCH think I don’t need enough support and throw me out? This is a really good thing that is happening to me, which is unusual, and I don’t want it to go wrong.  MCCH said that I’m an ideal candidate for this type of living." - Dan

Martin and Dan talked through this concern. They reflected on the fact that he wouldn’t have got this far if he didn’t meet the criteria.  He is an ideal candidate to eventually progress into fully independent living, which is exactly what MCCH is looking for from residents of this property.

"I’ve learned a great deal from working with Dan.  He is an intelligent and articulate guy who says that he has really appreciated and benefitted from having regular weekly support. We’ve had our tough times over the months but it’s been a privilege to work with Dan.  I’ve really enjoyed our journey and we will keep in touch" - Martin

"It’s [bemix] really helped me to get to this point. I definitely want to stay in touch" - Dan