Australia was returning to normalcy after the prolonged uncertainty of COVID-19, and Lindsey had moved interstate with his family. It was 2022, and these were two big changes for someone who finds comfort in routines and stability.
Plus, a ground-breaking life-skills day program for people with complex behaviours, had just opened. Lindsey came with his mum Lisa for a tour, and Lisa laughs as she remembers it. “It was so new, they were still setting up the rooms! Lindsey then demonstrated the full intensity of his behaviour elevations, and thankfully, the staff handled it brilliantly.”
Plus seemed like a good fit for Lindsey, and somewhere that could support him to achieve his goals. In particular, Lisa’s hopes were for Lindsey to become more independent and self-initiate more, and to socialise with people his own age. Lisa says, “I was extremely grateful to find such a niche program as Plus. Other organisations seemed more suited for participants with more developed skill sets and also had lower staff to participant ratios and less flexibility.”
When Lindsey first arrived at Plus, he was withdrawn, and spent all his time in a dedicated room the team had set up for him. It was a space just for Lindsey, so that he could feel safe. He would venture out maybe once a week. Over time, this grew to multiple times a day. Lindsey increased his engagement with other people, his tolerance of movement and sound, and joined in with skill development activities.
Tom Ballhausen is a Behaviour Support Lead at Plus, and leads the life skills development stream, in which Lindsey participates. “The great thing about the program is that we can tailor it to the individual. It allows for varying levels of engagement, and we can progress slowly (when needed) to make someone feel comfortable. For example, in my team, we can design tasks that take 30 seconds, or tasks that might take up to two hours. For Lindsey, this has enabled him to settle in and build up tolerance to tasks, whilst developing his skills and growing in confidence.”
Lindsey’s favourite tasks are shredding papers and watering the plants. “Through an activity that he can own as part of his daily routine, he has built up patience to do things for more minutes. He has a sense of pride in having an activity that he does well,” Lisa explains.
Tom agrees, and sees evidence of Lindsey’s progress every day: “Over his first year at Plus, Lindsey has become more settled, happier and willing to try new things. He now spends time outside and engages with support workers. One of my favourite moments was seeing Lindsey play basketball with a support worker for the first time. He lit up every time he caught and passed a ball.”
Lisa appreciates the effort that Tom and his team put into getting to know Lindsey and personalising his activities.
“I’m very happy with Plus and how they are moulding his program to his current needs. When I say something to staff, there’s a recognition that they understand me. They are obviously all in sync and know Lindsey very well. They know his triggers, weaknesses and strengths, when to go with the flow, or give him a little nudge. The way they talk when Lindsey is elevated means they can redirect him. Lindsey is happy with them and responding well. It’s reassuring having that connection.”
She has also engaged Plus’ Clinical behaviour support services to support Lindsey. Henry Ellen, Lindsey’s Behaviour Support Practitioner with Plus Clinical, works closely with Lindsey’s full support team, both at Plus and at home. He regularly reviews and refines the strategies he created for minimising Lindsey’s behaviours of concern and maximising his quality of life. “I am really happy that I engaged Henry,” Lisa reflects.”He’s given us a really solid platform to work from. His responses are strategic and timely.”
Last month, Lindsey accomplished a major milestone. He made a permanent move out of his dedicated room, leaving it behind to join the bustle of the communal areas. For Lisa, this is a clear sign of the progress Lindsey has made.
“He has come into a different behavioural chapter. He shows elevated maturity around how he handles himself, and is able to self regulate better. He is seeking more interaction. I’m so proud of him.”