Read how one of our occupational therapists has supported a student to develop community and independence skills (and enjoy sushi), while over-coming their anxiety challenges
Jacqui Waller, Occupational Therapist (OT) has been working with a particular student for the past 2 years who has a diagnosis of Autism. Whilst in year 8, the student struggled with anxiety, and has not been attending school for most of the year. He has also been finding activities of daily living demanding and challenging including washing, dressing and brushing his teeth. Jacqui adapted her therapy to working in the home environment with this student looking at strategies to assist his ability to complete functional everyday tasks, as well as bringing purpose and enjoyment through craft activities and cooking, e.g. making pancakes and smoothies. Funding for extra sessions and time were agreed and put into place to ensure consistency of the OT support and to support this student develop independence and confidence.
As this student found it challenging to leave the house, which has affected his ability to attend various professional appointments, Jacqui and the student have worked slowly and steadily together to encourage him to step out of his home environment and work on associated strategies. As this student loves sushi, a joint goal was set for him to be able to leave the house, sit in his favourite sushi restaurant and order what he would like.
Although he was a large part of setting this goal and really wanted this to happen, his heightened anxiety meant that on two occasions when this outing was planned, it had to be cancelled and a home session was delivered instead. On the day of the third planned trip, he decided that he wanted to try and achieve the large goal that had been set. He was able to go into the restaurant, sit at a table, order his choice of sushi, (with some assistance) and eat his meal with his dad and the OT. He loved the outing, engaged in spontaneous conversation and said although he could hear the noise (auditory input) of the cars outside and people talking in the restaurant, he did not find this as overwhelming as it has been during previous outings due to his developed supporting strategies.
Great work with families to support community inclusion.