Picture a young man, 21 years of age; pale, shy and very reluctant to come out of his bedroom or engage with new people outside his home. He had little motivation to try new things and wanted only to watch TV and play computer games.
Matthew started coming to Green Light Trust in July 2013 when he was referred to our Green Care programme. When he first arrived he was reluctant to join in with activities, and his physical stamina was so poor that he would rarely make it to lunch time before becoming exhausted. It was a challenge to get Matthew to work with anyone but one particular member of staff, and by 2.30 he was waiting by the gate for his bus to come at 3, stabbing his watch in frustration, anticipating any potential delay.
Over the last 9 months however we have seen a huge improvement, both in Matthew’s physical health, as well as his social skills. As his stamina and general fitness have improved, so has his motivation. He now has the strength to carry on with a task all day if required and his biggest issue now is learning to pace himself! Matthew’s dedication to finishing a set task has become quite impressive, and he takes huge pride in completing major jobs such as building a path or clearing a whole hedgerow.
Matthew’s autism means routines are important to him and he definitely has a framework to his days at Green Light. Within this framework however, he is becoming increasingly comfortable with changes to the staff and other groups he works with - as well as the types of jobs he is required to do, and… needless to say, the weather in which he has to do them! One of Matthew’s most rewarding achievements to witness to date is how he is overcoming his fear of dogs. When Matthew first started coming he would hide behind a member of staff at the first sign of any dogs. Lately however he has started actively looking for his new friends and it is a joy to see him laughing and smiling as he strokes and pets them. As part of his development at Green Light, Matthew is also currently working towards his ABC entry level 2 award in Practical environmental and conservation skills. This helps Matthew on several levels; not least
helping to improve his speech and literacy skills.
Whilst it is still important to Matthew to know exactly what time his bus is collecting him; it is usually the bus that is waiting at the gate for him these days!