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Making the transition to adult life

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Oliver is a young man with a range of different support needs making the transition to adult life after finishing school. By working with an Independent Supporter at Unique Ways, his confidence has grown and he’s beginning to make his way in the world. Here, his Independent Supporter tells his story.

Oliver has Downs’ syndrome, as well as specific communication challenges that mean he needs skilled, sensitive support to be able to voice his views and aspirations. School had been a massive safety net for Oliver for many years but, at 19, it was time for Oliver to leave his Calderdale school and make the transition into adulthood. Planning for life after school has been a major theme for his family and the Independent Support he has received through Unique Ways.

The family received support during the original Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Pathfinder project to draw up a draft Education Health Care (EHC) plan. Some of the information came from having a party at his house with all his family, where person-centred information could be gathered naturally. It was great to see him beaming and thriving in the attention, rather than avoiding eye contact or feeling under pressure, which can happen when people ask him things directly.

Oliver was clear that he wanted to learn to use the bus to travel independently, to get work in a cafe, to buy his own CDs, to see his mates outside school, and to go out socially – whether for a KFC or a pint at the pub!  Eventually, he would like to be able to live somewhere on his own, learn to cook, and look after himself.

As Oliver already had a SEN statement, we assisted with the transfer across to an EHC plan, attending a review in school, and discussing ideas with Oliver, his mum, the school, SEN colleagues and Transition Social Workers. It was fantastic being able to work in partnership with everyone, and to see the EHC plan feed into the Adult Transition support plan.

Oliver’s mum used the EHC to successfully obtain a college place, and direct payments for PAs to support Oliver in continuing his work placement at a pet shop, to help him develop independent travel and social skills. He is now attending residential college during the week to further develop independence away from the family home.

His confidence has grown hugely in recent months. He is a much admired work colleague, taking responsibility for stocking shelves with pet food, feeding the rabbits, going on the till to scan items – and not forgetting the banter in the staffroom! He has successfully travelled independently on a public bus to meet his PA in town, and is starting to be able to speak more clearly to order his favourite KFC. He also uses his phone to initiate a phone call, or text his mum and PAs.

After leaving school, the supported work placement is set to continue with support from one of his PAs. This will ensure the gap between school and college is bridged, so he has a positive focus for life after school. It’s hoped that the placement will continue once he starts college, too.

As an Independent Supporter, it’s great to hear how Oliver is developing as a wonderful young man, and great to know that the EHC plan aspirations and outcomes are being put into practice – and really making a difference.

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