Meet Michael – an animal-loving Futures learner at Autism Unlimited, with a diagnosis of autism and ADHD.
Futures is a learning programme that empowers 18 - 25 year olds to realise their full potential and achieve more independence in their lives through bespoke learning opportunities. The provision is centred around the Preparation for Adulthood framework, which explores 4 different areas of learning - employability, independence, community and relationships, and health and wellbeing. He said, ‘It helps me with my life skills heading towards a future.’
Futures supports Michael with day-to-day tasks like shopping, preparing him and other learners to integrate into the community with independence and ease. Some of the things he can struggle with at supermarkets includes waiting in queues, the busy and crowded environment, finding items in specific aisles and paying at the till.
In an attempt to manage these challenges, Michael went shopping in Lidl to pick up a few items with the support of his Futures coach Tom. This helped with his daily living skills, guiding him through the steps and giving him the confidence to shop for food at the local supermarket by himself. When asked how it helps him in the future, he said, ‘to be able to go out on my own and get normal groceries.’
Talking about autism, he says, ‘Autism to me is like people with special needs.’
He describes his own autism as having challenges and working out a lot of problems for situations, while also mentioning his ADHD. His day-to-day challenges often include problem-solving and structures, though he does note, ‘Autism Unlimited helps me to find ways to find ways to solve problems.’
Michael says he has really benefitted from learning new skills like cooking and learning different things, equipping him with the necessary knowledge to successfully move into adulthood. He adds: ‘I’m capable of doing most things in life, like hobbies and stuff.’
Michael is an avid animal lover - he took our therapy dog Tilly on a walk, even venturing into Pets at Home to buy her a treat! He’s a big fan of technology and enjoys visiting the local park, where he goes for exercise in the outdoor gym to build his body strength and keep fit. As part of his personalised learning programme, Michael is looking forward to undertaking a placement at a Cat Café, combining his love for cats with an opportunity to gain practical work experience, which may even translate into a career path. He said, ‘It will help me be friendly, it’ll be therapeutic and help me calm down in stressful situations.’