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31 Mar

Celebrating World Autism Awareness Week

This week is World Autism Awareness Week, which seeks to raise awareness of autism and to help create a society that works better for autistic people. It is also an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the positive aspects of autism, including the inspirational experiences and unique perspectives of the people that we support at Priory Adult Care.

Across our specialist residential services, people and staff have been celebrating World Autism Awareness Week. Residents at Red House in the Forest of Dean had a BBQ, played games including pass the parcel, took part in a music quiz and baked some biscuits, all while wearing their brightest clothes in their specially decorated home.

A Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed space has been created at Progress House near Rotherham to celebrate World Autism Awareness Week, complete with a chocolate river, huge sweet decorations, an Oompa-Loompa and Willy Wonka. People with autism are often highly sensitive to their environments, so it was important for our residents to build their own dream room, which offers just the right amount of sensory stimulation.

At Priory Adult Care, our priority is always to focus on how we can support people with autism to achieve their goals and reach their true potential. We have developed a wide range of innovative autism services to meet the needs of those we support and to help ensure that they lead happy and fulfilling lives. Our Assessment and Transition Director for Complex Autism, Michelle Widjaew explains more about this and what her role supporting people with complex autism at Priory Adult Care entails:

What is complex autism?

“We use the term ‘complex autism’ when a person has autism in addition to other difficulties such as mental health needs or learning disabilities. They may also have physical disabilities or genetic disorders.

Every person with a diagnosis of autism is different, so it’s really important that care and support is matched to the unique needs, preferences and aspirations of each individual. Supporting people with autism means that you see that every individual is uniquely themselves, with their own different strengths and support needs.”

How does Priory Adult Care support people with complex autism?

“Priory Adult Care’s specialist residential services provide the person-centred care and support that enables people with complex autism to achieve their potential. Our staff teams have significant expertise in supporting people with complex needs.

My role involves ensuring the management teams at each of our specialist residential services have all they need to support people with complex needs effectively. I work with them to carefully plan each person’s transition into their new home and to ensure that this is as smooth and comfortable as possible for them. I train and develop staff so that they have all the required knowledge of each person and how to support them, before joining the home.

My work with each team is then ongoing to ensure that each person receives the specialist care and support they need to achieve their goals and to lead the life that they choose. In my role, I am fortunate to also be able to draw on the experience and expertise within Priory Adult Care, in areas such as positive behaviour support (PBS).”

Can you tell us about your background?

“My career history has involved working in the social care sector and supporting people with autism and complex behavioural support needs. This includes helping adults move into the community from hospital settings.

I have almost twenty years of management experience and I’ve been a Registered Manager for both adult and children’s specialist residential services, including an ‘Outstanding’ Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated service.

I am also a qualified Social Worker and I am currently undertaking a Master of Education (MEd) in Autism at the University of Birmingham. I am passionate about offering outstanding person-centred support to people with complex autism and proud of the services that we offer at Priory Adult Care.”