In honour of World Autism Awareness Day 2020, 2 April, we hear from Louise, a person we support, about steps she took to try something new – and create something useful to soothe her anxiety she experiences due to her autism.
Louise is working hard at overcoming her natural tendency to withdraw – instead, she’s pushing herself to be social and learn new skills. Supported by Livability East Midlands, Louise, who has Asperger syndrome, recently joined a local craft class, where she has loved learning to crochet. Now she’s tackling machine sewing with a specific project in mind.
Louise is autistic, among roughly 700,000 other autistic people in the UK. That’s more than 1 in every 100 people. Autism, including Asperger syndrome, is much more common than most people think.
People with Asperger syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. Autism is a spectrum condition, therefore all autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways.
With help from Val and Sarah, who run the ‘Nimble Thimble’ class in Buckingham, Louise decided to make a weighted blanket, something she had researched online. Weighted blankets are used as a relaxation tool by autistic people, providing what therapists call ‘deep touch pressure’, which can relieve anxiety.
Louise does not like to have her photo taken, this a big part of her anxiety. She did kindly agreed to showcase her work, and here she is proudly holding up her blanket:
When made up by Louise, the blanket was filled with tiny plastic pellets ‘which sounds easy,’ as Livability staff member Alison comments, ‘but they went on the floor quite a few times!’ The sensory element of feeling the pellets through the blanket’s fabric can provide additional distraction from anxiety the user is experiencing.
Livability East Midlands enables the people we support to take part in the community and gain skills and independence in a wide range of activities. These include golf, work experience at a supermarket, supporting the local football club and, for the more adventurous, abseiling. ‘We work closely with each individual to find out what they would like out of life and enable them to overcome barriers they might face to achieving those goals,’ says Alison, Service Coordinator, Community Services. ‘And most people surprise themselves at what they can do, with the right support.’
People with a wide range of age and abilities choose Livability East Midlands for different kinds of care and support, including supported and residential living, and a vibrant, community-focused day centre in Brackley.