Before you read the next two posts, I might just add a disclaimer, because it may appear that my job is a complete bludge. I work with adults with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities (who also have other developmental or physical disabilities). Sometimes it’s an absolute joy, and days without incidents are rare and beautiful; most of the time it is actually pretty great. It can also be quite hard, physically and emotionally draining. It’s not unusual to drive over 100km in a day, or to want to cry because a client has been screaming constantly or has had a major seizure.
But the last two days have been pretty awesome, so I want to tell you about them. (P.S. The disability sector is always looking for new recruits. Just saying).
You may have read about S, who has autism (here). I’m not meant to have favourites, but I love working with him. He got a coke zero with his nuggets and chips yesterday. He takes such great delight in eating, so careful and civilised (he eats everything with a plastic knife and fork, including potato chips, the crispy kind). So after eating his chips and then his nuggets, he looked at his coke bottle, as if not sure how to go about drinking it. I helped him pour it into a cup, but it didn’t all fit. Still, he continued to pour as much in as would fit, giggled, and then leaned down and slurped with his lips until he could safely pick it up.
When he was all done, he happily sat and watched one of the other clients, whom he has known for many years (and reminds me quite a lot of Mr Bean) and just smiled. Every now and then he would lean in or rock back and forth slightly, just enjoying watching his friend (who wasn’t really doing anything particularly interesting, as far as I could tell). Autism is so fascinating (they both have autism, but it is displayed so differently)!
We then headed to the Sensory Room (pictures below), which is basically a room designed to help people with disabilities (especially sensory disorders, like autism) to relax or to stimulate their senses (the one we go to focuses mainly on lights and sound, and some textures and vibrations). It’s dimly lit, with a ball pit and mirrors in one corner, a few different types of swings, and a mattress which has different vibration settings. Peaceful music, bird sounds or streams of water are played over the speakers, there is a “microphone” which senses movement and makes sounds according to how slow/fast/wide the movements are, and some foam building blocks.
S doesn’t always enjoy this room; I think it depends on the day and who he’s with. This time, he happily took his shoes off and sat down on a gym mat, again happy to watch other clients (one was throwing balls from the ball pit at Mr Bean, who would then grumble and throw it away – he does actually treat this as a game).
I encouraged him to lay down, which he did. I was quite pleased with this as he doesn’t always respond well to suggestions. So we proceeded to chill out for about 15 minutes, laying on the mat and watching the lights change colour and move around on the walls. Tough life.
Liberty swing – lock a wheelchair in so the person can enjoy the wind in their hair!