Loving the independence

MANAGING WELL: Coping with change was a big challenge for Jamie initially, but in the supported accommodation environment he has learned to accommodate change better.
MANAGING WELL: Coping with change was a big challenge for Jamie initially, but in the supported accommodation environment he has learned to accommodate change better.

Cooking a yummy butter chicken and having a chat with his support worker after work is all in a day's routine for 19-year-old Jamie. On the autism spectrum, Jamie lives in Challenge Disability Services Supported Accommodation in Wyong and is going from strength to strength.

"Over the four years I have known him, Jamie has matured enormously," confirms support worker Chris. "Since finishing Year 12 last year, Jamie has become much more independent and now works four days a week at Terama Industries in Gosford, packing and labelling."

Leading busy life

Jamie catches a bus then a train from Wyong to Gosford, then has a short walk to work, all of which he navigates independently. These are big achievements for any young person just out of school.

"When I get home from work, I usually rest for about an hour then relax playing video games," says Jamie. "On weekends I go to the cricket club or hang out with my friends. I mostly like to talk and play Yu-Gi-Oh."

Jamie began playing cricket at age 15 and has already contributed some crucial wickets for his team. He is also a talented ten pin bowler. In March this year he was awarded two 1st trophies for the Illawarra Star Strikers Club Challenge held in Sydney.

Learning independence

Support workers use a variety of strategies to help people become more independent. The main one for Jamie has been hurdle help.

"Hurdle help is about showing Jamie how to complete everyday tasks, like hanging the washing on the line or making a piece of toast," explains Chris.

"Often the actions we take for granted are not obvious to someone learning independence."

Managing change

Coping with change was a big challenge for Jamie initially, but in the supported accommodation environment he has learned to accommodate change better.

"We don't do everything for him but Jamie knows he can come to us if he feels challenged or needs help. This continuity gives him a sense of security and prevents him from becoming overwhelmed as he increases his independence", says Chris.

Continuity, predictability and routine are critical for someone on the autism spectrum. With Supported Accommodation Jamie knows what will happen when and he knows who his support workers are.

Sharing the accommodation with others also brings with it companionship and a sense of belonging.

To find out more about Supported Accommodation options for people with disabilities contact Challenge Community Services on 1800 679 129 or email disabilityservices@challengecommunity.org.au

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