When the start of the work week rolls around, the first thought on many people's mind is where did the weekend go, yet the weekly grind is just a fact of life. However work can be something enjoyable and rewarding, which is why many disability service groups continue to advocate for disability employment and opportunities.
Cooking a yummy butter chicken and having a chat with his support worker after work is all in a day's routine for 19-year-old Jamie Wall. On the autism spectrum, Jamie lives in Challenge Disability Services Supported Accommodation and is going from strength to strength.
Jaime's support worker Chris said that over the four years he has known him, Jamie had matured enormously. "Since finishing Year 12 last year, Jamie has become much more independent and now works four days a week at Terama Industries, packing and labelling."
- Leading a busy life
Jamie's trips to work include using public transport followed by a short walk, all of which he navigates independently. They are big achievements for any young person just out of school and outside of work, Jaime said he likes to keep busy. "When I get home from work, I usually rest for about an hour then relax playing video games," he said. "On weekends I go to the cricket club or hang out with my friends". Jamie began playing cricket at age 15 and has already contributed some crucial wickets for his team. He is also a talented ten pin bowler and in March this year was awarded two first place trophies for the Illawarra Star Strikers Club Challenge held in Sydney.
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- Learning independence
Support workers use a variety of strategies to help people become more independent and Chris said the main one for Jamie has been hurdle help. "Hurdle help is about showing Jamie how to complete everyday tasks, like hanging the washing on the line or making a piece of toast," he said. "Often the actions we take for granted are not obvious to someone learning independence".
- Managing change
Coping with change was initially quite a big challenge for Jamie, however Chris said that in the supported accommodation environment Jaime has learned to accommodate change better. "We don't do everything for him but Jamie knows he can come to us if he feels challenged or needs help," he said. "This continuity gives him a sense of security and prevents him from becoming overwhelmed as he increases his independence".
Continuity and routine are critical for someone on the autism spectrum. With Supported Accommodation Jamie knows what will happen when and he knows who his support workers are. Sharing the accommodation with others also brings with it companionship and a sense of belonging.