A story of successful transition

Written by ScopeDate 21 Nov 2014

Haydn has Cerebral Palsy involving increased muscle tone and involuntary sustained muscle contractions that lead to abnormal movement and postures, Hydrocephalus (an excess of cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull), Epilepsy presenting as Tonic Clonic Seizures and absence seizures and Cortical Visual Impairment.

Assessment indicated that Haydn would display significant levels of anxiety upon entry to College; physical aggression, pushing, hitting, kicking, nipping, biting, spitting and throwing objects; wakefulness, requesting assistance by banging on the wall, screaming & shouting; refusing to eat in unfamiliar situations or when away from home, including induced vomiting; reluctance or absolute refusal to get in or out of vehicles, potentially requiring physical intervention by up to 4 people at any one time; and being overly affectionate with people he does not know and being unable to judge the force of his hugging them.

Objectives of placement

Haydn’s initial assessment and PATH (Person Centred Plan) meeting clearly indicated that the aim of his placement at the College would be to participate in creative expression activities that would enable him to make informed lifestyle choices; to be able to access community and independence activities of his choice; to have available and consolidate the use of a range of strategies to use when communication breaks down; and to undertake ASDAN accreditation in Personal and Social Development. These aims would be delivered via a personalised, individual, programme of study and intervention, specifically designed to support his ability to manage anxiety when faced with changes to his daily living situation.

Action taken

Planned and coordinated by a Behaviour Specialist working closely with Haydn’s Keyworker and mum, Haydn’s Key-worker visited Haydn at home to ensure that he met him in a familiar environment where he could feel safe. In addition to this, the Keyworker was made available when Haydn visited the College for his pre-entry PATH planning meeting and overnight stay. Having started to build a relationship with Haydn, the Key worker also met him outside College, so that he was with someone familiar to him as he finally entered College.

On completion of Haydn’s Comprehensive Functional Assessment, using information drawn from, Student Support Records, interviews, Interdisciplinary documentation and observation, a range of specific objectives were set. These were, to improve Haydn's communication skills in signing and production of single words, to help him to indicate his needs and wants and provide environments which would meet his needs initially, therefore reducing his anxiety, gradually introducing variations to each environment, in controlled situations. Support staff working with Haydn were to be confined to his Key-worker, two named staff, the Behaviour Specialist, his Living Area Manager and Co-ordinator. Initially, in order to further reduce his anxiety level, other staff were only to be introduced for short periods, with key staff supporting.

Strategies to empower Haydn

Identified items such as an Elvis mask, outfit and guitar, were to be made freely accessible to Haydn as this calmed him. At times of high stress he would seek these items out. Staff engaged the items in sessions to support Haydn to maintain calm. His choice of activities within College were then expanded into the community and were then gradually increased.

Haydn's transition

Transition to supported living in Liverpool with 2 other young men, who had Learning Disability was planned and achieved, with Haydn accessing a Creative Arts course at a Community College, attending three times a week with one to one support and without incident. He also regularly attends Boccia tournaments with his dad and his local church with both parents. More recently he has joined a local drama club, attending every week.

Haydn's separation anxiety has also dissipated, meaning that he is now able to function well with non familiar people, in non familiar settings. His signing ability has increased and he has slightly clearer speech. This has, without a doubt, increased the quality of life he experiences. Haydn is also happy and settled in his home.

The College also provided a full transitional support service, to ensure that he was able to move successfully into his new living situation. This consisted of visits to the prospective home with his Key-worker and other Key staff, visits by prospective support staff from his new home to the College, to meet him in a safe environment and a full transition information pack was provided. The Behaviour Specialist continued to liaise with the staff team in his new home, for approximately 3 months, following Haydn's transition from the College.

This story is courtesy of Scope.