Joe* is 11 years old and has autism and learning disabilities. Joe has no speech but can let you know what he wants and how he is feeling. He is cheerful, affectionate and playful. Joe loves all sorts of music but Singing Kettle, nursery rhymes, Pink Floyd and Lady Gaga are particular favourites. He likes dancing, bouncing on the trampoline, playing with water and swimming.
Joe can be determined and inquisitive and needs his carers to make sure the house and garden are safe for him. To keep him safe at night he sleeps in a safe space. Joe needs routines and he likes to know what is happening next. He doesn’t like surprises although with preparation can learn to cope with new places and experiences. He may struggle the first time and will cry and self harm – bite his hand or hit his head. His carers need to know how to help him calm down but once he knows what to expect he is generally fine the next time. Joe can be very sensitive to all that is going on around him and this means that there are times when he doesn’t sleep – usually during school holidays when he is out of his routines.
Like many children with autism Joe is a very sensory child and likes to be able to feel and touch things, especially keys and chains. He loves his food although prefers spicy savoury food to puddings and sweets. He is now able to sit at the table and feed himself. He really likes wotsits and if he is upset these are always a good thing to use to work out if he is unwell or just unhappy.
Like all of us Joe can become unhappy and upset and as he can’t say why, it is up to the adults in his life to work out what might be wrong. He will cry, stomp, sit on the floor, hit himself and sometimes grab or throw things. Wrapping him in a blanket and giving him a hug is one way to help but there are also times when he just wants to be given space.
(*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.)