John* moved into our Dorset Foyer accommodation early last year following a family breakdown. He has high-functioning autism. His communication difficulties meant that he initially struggled to engage with staff at even the most basic level. An example was not evacuating the accommodation during a fire alarm test – his autism meant that he struggled to see why it would be important to practice such procedures. He also failed to attend any of his support sessions as he believed he would ask for help if he needed it.

The Dorset team worked closely with John to overcome these challenges. Gradually, they were able to agree ways in which he could engage with them that he felt comfortable with. These could be as simple as waving at staff through the office door each morning, or giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate how he was feeling. He was also made to feel that he could speak to any member of the team at any time.

This tailored approach to engagement worked really well. Within a few months, John was attending weekly support sessions and looking to build relationships with his siblings. He was also able to manage his own money and diet for the first time.

“Seeing the progress John has made is such a rewarding outcome to the work and support we give,” says Mae Partridge, Regional Foyer Manager. “He was highly praised in his apprenticeship, leading to him gaining full time employment.”

We were delighted when John felt confident enough to progress into one of our ‘move on’ flats. These allow young people such as John to live more independently while still having access to Step by Step support. For John, this means he is one step closer to living the life that most young people take for granted.

*Name changed to respect privacy.

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