Section 2: Understand how to support individuals with autism using a person-centred approach
Q3: Describe what is meant by ‘person-centred support’. (2.1)
A person-centred approach is to see the individual with a disability or condition as equal. It is simply to give the individual the same respect, opportunities and rights that every individual has. An important thing to focus on when expressing the person- centred approach is not to see the ‘limitations’ someone may have, but to see them as differences and as something the individual can overcome with support. A few examples of how a person centred approach can be laid out are:
-Ensuring there is constant communication between the care worker and the individual about anything that impacts the person’s life, including decisions, the ways in which they communicate and other factors.
-Constantly showing empathy and compassion to support those with disabilities and conditions and supporting them with routines and personal care.
-Understanding the needs of someone with autism, and appreciating the improvements and what they do to improve their social skills and interactions with others.
-Understanding the reactions and behaviours someone with autism may experience and not blaming the person, rather supporting the person and remaining sensitive and professional.
-Maintaining the documentation the individual has and ensuring it stays up to date, as we all ensuring the person is aware of their rights and entitlements.
-Ensuring that the individual remains in control of their decisions, but their best interest is kept through supportive and friendly guidance.
-Given constant support towards individuals who want to reach out to the wider community and become more comfortable experiencing their differences.
Q4: Explain why it is important to treat the person with autism as an individual. (2.2)
It is vital to treat an individual with autism as an individual not only because of it is their basic human rights, it falling under the Equality Act and appearing in legal legislation, policies and guidelines, but purely on an empathetic level. The person-centred approach can ensure all individuals with autism are treated just as equally as anyone else would and ensures support and friendliness to a person who may be experiencing anxiety within autism. Alongside this, those with autism do not experience all of the same characteristics and traits, and due to this, it’s important to ensure you’re treating all individuals equally and fairly, but to also adopt a support system that fits all individually, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Treating someone as an individual, not only for a legal requirement, can make the individual feel more comfortable and supported, allowing them to open up and take on challenges.
Q5: Give examples of how support can be provided in a way that is: (2.3)
Example 1: Mike shows compassion giving Jamal the processing time he needs which makes Jamal feel more comfortable and take part in the youth club more than he did before.
Example 2: Gillian also shows compassion with David when he feels upset having to move onto another activity too quickly. She is also non-judgemental of the situation, putting into effect a system that helps David to move onto another activity without feeling as if he has been forced away.
Jenny struggles with social interaction which Ling, the community worker, understands this and shows a sympathetic approach. She talks through everything that will happen on the shopping trip and the expected behaviour in a non-judgemental way. Ling also shows compassion where she takes Jenny’s ear defenders with her and tells her she can return to the minibus if she feels the need to. Due to the acceptance of the situation and being free to ask for help and feel worried, Jenny ends up enjoying the
trip and Ling can put her down for further trips.
Example 2: After Mike read Jamal’s personal profile about experiencing the world in a confusing and frightening way, Mike shows a non- judgemental view, understanding the difficulty of communication due to his own stutter.
Q6: Give examples of how the rights of individuals with autism can be promoted. (2.4)
Legislation, policies and guidelines may be tough to interpret, so it is important that all care workers, support workers and other health professionals supporting an individual with autism constantly promote the rights that individuals with autism have. It can be difficult to do this – and being stuck between a decision made by someone with autism, and having their best interest at heart, can be difficult to manage and act upon in the best way – and therefore the legislation and policies need to be understood before action. Promoting rights is not only a legal requirement but can also help the individual take control of their disability or need and ensures their decision-making and involvement are the priority, and regardless of experiences, they are treated equally and fairly by all. To achieve this practically can be done, and examples of how this can be done are described below. The professional taking care and supporting the individual with autism will need to ensure they are supporting ‘positive risks’ (such as getting involved in the wider community) to improve their self-confidence and happiness and allows them to reach independence. By including those with autism in social activities, it not only boosts independence, but increases inclusion within the society, increasing the likelihood of acceptance and autism being understood. The interactions between neurotypical individuals and neurodiverse individuals can open up learning curves, more self-confidence for the individual with autism but also for the individual without autism as first-hand experience can be telling and removes any previous bias or negative thoughts and feelings. Ensuring that all professionals that will be part of the individual with autism’s life are educated, trained and supported within this will be important to ensure that a human-centric approach is constantly met and the individual does not feel anything less than equal. It is also important that the media keep pushing the positive representation of those with autism in the media, such as television shows, films and documentaries. By doing this, it opens up an educating atmosphere for those who have not met someone with autism or are worried to due to negative portrayals in the media. More documentaries showing everyday life of someone with autism, from an early age to adult, can support acceptance of the autism and make the subject less judged and more understood in society. Whilst it is important that those with autism make their own decisions, with reasons explained above, it is also important to show that they can make decisions and have every right to do so; this can also help with self-confidence and independence. The community can also support campaign groups, such as the National Autistic Society, to spread awareness of autism, what it means and accurate representation.
Q7: Describe how to incorporate the preferences and needs of individuals when providing support. (2.5)
When discussing needs and preferences for someone with autism it is best to ask the person themselves about how you can assist. Not only does this make the person feel more in control of their condition, but also is the most person-centred approach. All individuals, including professional workers – such as care workers – should adopt this approach for their main way of finding out information about the person. It is important to know, that whilst these needs may change from time to time due to the
complexities of autism, the person who knows the best about their needs and preferences is the person themselves, and whilst in some cases it may be a long process finding out how the individual chooses to communicate and socially interact, it should always be their choice in their needs and preferences.
There are different ways of communication that a person with autism can adopt, and this can differ between person to person rather than to different type of autism. To engage in discussion and learn more about an individual with autism’s method of communicating and their needs and preferences, it’s important to know beforehand the different types of communication a person with autism may use.
One of the most popular communication methods is the Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS, which as the name suggests uses imagery and symbol to communicate the needs of the individual. Some may be more detailed than others, depending on whether or not they use other methods of communication. It is usually specific to their needs, favourite things and what they like to do. Another method of communication is a sensory diet in which a professional will conduct a sensory assessment which identifies the individual’s sensory preferences. ‘Gentle Teaching’ is a practice based on the work of Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist, which emphasises the need of ‘unconditional positive regard’ meaning there is basic support and acceptance for all regardless of what the person says or does, especially within the context of client-centred therapy. Being with the individual to observe behaviour, characteristics and sensory preferences can also be a great way of learning
about the different preferences the individuals likes. By taking an active interest in their likes, dislikes and what they have to say can improve the relationship making communication easier between the care worker and the individual with autism. Learning more about autism, the different ways of communicating and different characteristics can help when communicating and learning needs and preferences of an individual with autism. Being able to work with their preferred communication method can build trust and therefore make communication of needs and preferences easier. Some may include a symbolic communication book, Makaton sign language or an electronic communication device. Speaking to the individuals family members about the individuals needs and preferences as well as professionals can also help keep the individuals best interest at heart. It may be good to speak to their family, but ensuring communication happens with the individual themselves otherwise it could lead to resentment. Learning about the individual’s preferences and needs can help further than just communicating, and can aid in setting up daily timetables of activities the person may want or need to partake in. Ensuring that the individual’s favourite activities are included can ensure they have a good day and their needs are met. It can also help with telling the mood of an individual when daily timetables are made. It is normal to need to adjust a timetable based upon the individual’s mood for the day as something they may have wanted to do yesterday, they may not want to do today. A sensory diet is vital in the daily timetable to ensure there is not too much or too little going on and there’s enough flexibility for breaks during the day for the individual to ‘chill out’.
Q8: Explain why it is important to work with each individual’s strengths and abilities to enable them to achieve their potential. (2.6)
Individuals with autism possess certain strengths and abilities in the same way that neurotypical individuals to. Working on and developing these strengths and abilities can be seen as showing compassion and empathy and ensuring their favourite activities and preferences are put into the daily timetable ensuring they have a pleasurable day. This can also boost their confidence and self-esteem and can then improve independence.
Q9: Give examples of how the contribution of informal networks can provide support to individuals with autism and their family. (2.7)
An informal network is made up of the individual’s family and friends, voluntary agencies (such as the National Autistic Society), the Citizens Advice Bureau, private therapists or advisors, and care workers or tutors that are brought in via direct payments. An informal network can be critical to an individual’s support system as the reassurance of family and friends, voluntary agencies and other private support can help to shape the way they grow and develop as a person. They can also be effective if informal
networks feel like formal networks have failed and need to continue the support outward. Private therapists can be incredibly beneficial to an individual with autism as they can provide support, guidance and advice to the individual with autism without a biased perspective and the individual can be more open with the therapist without having to hold back to save feelings or hurt their family and friends.
Voluntary agencies can also give useful support to the individual, usually with positive characteristics and behaviours towards the individual which other formal support may not be able to do. Voluntary agencies are usually committed to supporting and don’t always get paid for their work making it more meaningful for the individual and their families. Voluntary agencies can provide information, research and access to other activities that another support system may not be able to give.
Family and friends can offer support that other support systems may not be able to, such as constant care as well as have knowledge and experience about the individual that can affect the overall relationships, such as being aware of the individual’s hopes and dreams, thoughts and habits making it a relationship with more understanding.
Family and friends can be a big help for care workers and other professionals as this unique knowledge and experience can support other systems that can be put in place, sensory diets and preferred daily timetables.
Q10: Explain the importance of working in partnership with the individual and others. (2.8)
As mentioned previously above person centred approaches and always including the individual in decisions about what affects them, it is of great importance that the individual is always included in any communication regarding them and their condition. It is important to remember that under the Human Rights Act every individual has a right to a life, and has right to choice. Under the Equality Act, every individual should be treated fairly and equally. These legislation are incredibly paramount to all
communications and partnerships between support networks and the individual. Other reasons can be regarding the aspirations and desires of the individual and how they should always be considered when decisions are made, hence why it is important for the individual or a family member or friend to be present in decision making, to ensure it has the best interest of the individual at all times. It is crucial that support networks are kept, both formal and informal, for the different support the individual will receive. There will need to be multiple people and agencies supporting the individual for their best interest and to work together to provide support, care and advice. Failure to work as a partnership, especially in the case of a care worker, the results can affect the risk of mental health problems and behaviour that challenges. Legally some individuals and agencies will have to work
together under the 2014 Children and Families Act. The experiences and knowledge family and friends have can provide insightful and critical information that can support formal support networks and can be incredibly beneficial to the individual themselves.
Q11: Outline the principles of confidentiality in relation to supporting individuals with autism. (2.9)
All agencies and individuals working with the individual with autism will need to keep all information and data confidential at all times. This can be part of a therapy session or part of a support group, but all information spoken about will need to remain secure for the best interest of the individual and to safeguard against any issues with support. Only certain people will need to know the entirety of the condition and information involved. Confidentiality can be kept by keeping sensitive information verbal so no written word is kept and is not at risk of being leaked. Secure systems can also help with this. Confidentiality is key and not just under the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 (GDPR), but also at the best interest of the individual. A person with autism is still a human being who has rights and must be treated equally to all in society. Sensitive data shared with the wrong person or publicly can cause issues to the individual with autism in many ways, such as information being used by criminals against the individual or their family or personal secrets to be used to persuade the individual to take part in crime or forced activity. Other information that can be dangerous when shared could be medical information. This leak would violate the dignity of the individual with autism similarly to how it would affect anyone else with medical information that has been shared publicly without permission. Sharing of personal data, such as name, personal phone number, address,
breaches GDPR but also can cause further issues with the person potentially being targeted by others who may be a threat. Care workers and other professionals will be bound to contracts that prevent them from being able to share sensitive information under the circumstances if they do, they will be open to legal action, disciplinary action and can be dismissed. In some cases, however, some data confidentiality may have to be broken but this will only be under severe circumstances. If the individual is in danger, or their family is, or there is a crime taking place, a care worker will need to step in and break the confidentiality policy. An example of this could be if the individual with autism went missing, the police may seek personal information that could help the public identify them and therefore the care worker will need to provide the information to make the search and identification easier, as well as share any risks e.g. complex behaviours or unique traits. Care workers can use their own judgement to assess whether confidentiality can be broken and will need to evaluate the risk of confidentiality break before doing so.