People with autism, their parents or advocates are very much seen as partners with Sunshine Care in the therapeutic and support processes.
Our assessments are made from as wide a perspective as possible and that assumptions are made on the basis of empathy and consultation with professionals; and not superficial enquiry.
We have found that it is essential to see the world from the standpoint of the person on the autism spectrum. This is a key ingredient in the 'art' of working with adults with autism. We must begin from the position or perspective of the individual and gather insights about how they see and experience their world, knowing what it is that motivates or interests them but importantly what may also frighten, preoccupy or otherwise distress them.
It is important that a programme of sensitive but persistent support is in place to engage the individual, minimise regression and discover and develop potential. In this respect it is important that expectations are high, but realistic; and based on careful assessment. This will include the strengths and individual needs of the person, their level of functioning and an assessment of the support they will need. We must seek to establish and reinforce self-confidence and self esteem by building on natural strengths, interest and abilities.
Links with the mainstream, through curriculum and other experiences, enable the individual to participate in a meaningful way in the life of the wider community. Our assessments include a view of the barriers in accessing opportunity. For example, many people on the autism spectrum may have difficulty with oral communication, leading to an underestimation of their ability and potential. Conversely some may have a good grasp of speech but this may mask a more serious level of disability.
We have found that many people with autism may feel the need to avoid new or potentially aversive experiences but through the medium of structure and positive, sensitive, supportive rehearsal we can support them in reducing their level of anxiety, helping them to learn to tolerate and accept such experiences; and provide sufficient support in developing new horizons and skills.
Our autism-specialist Sunshine Live in Carers are endowed with the personal attributes of calmness, predictability and good humour, empathy and an analytical disposition. Additionally, supplementary relaxation and arousal reduction therapies, music and massage, sensory diet etc. may be helpful in promoting calm and general well-being and in reducing anxiety.