Case Study 1 – 1:1 Keyworking

Q was a bright young man, who had been diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum. I was allocated to work with him four days a week, 5 hours a day as he had just been excluded from school and was waiting for an appropriate educational placement.

I felt he was behind his years both emotionally and socially, and in my opinion he did not have enough exposure to both child and adult interaction; he lacked basic social skills but had a very interesting mind.

His hobbies consisted of everything to do with computers, computer viruses and video games. The influence of computer games on him, I think was apparent from his everyday conversation, which occasionally leads to killing people, how he would choose to do it and how he would get away with it. It was in alarming detail. I would try to change the subject and try to get him to talk about other things to do with the games he was playing such as the graphics, I also made it clear that these sort of conversations were quite inappropriate. I felt he had trouble separating these cyber worlds he lives in and the real world.

When I first started working with Q he displayed a reluctance to “open up” and for the first few days, even talk to me, well, not without me instigating conversation. Our conversations were somewhat, one way and his response were usually one word or very brief, just answering the question.

He never responded well to doing any type of work, apart from, of course if it is done on a computer. He excelled in Maths but it was very difficult to get him to actually write anything down. Although like everything else, as well as me, he slowly came round to it, was used to it and got on with it.

He did display some challenging behaviour throughout the time I worked with him. He could be rude to people on the street, in shops and in the libraries.

His Asperger’s was very apparent to me and would be to anyone working in this field, he would say very inappropriate and offensive things in all kinds of environments. It was a trial and error kind of scenario in which we’d have to have a particular situation in order to find time to discuss it afterwards, reflect on it and talk about what he “should” or ”could” have done differently, and to his credit he did progress well and it became very rare that we re-visited the same situations and issues.

Q put me through, what all I can call is a “trial period”, it was as though I was being tried out, tested and assessed by him in his own time. I was very lucky enough to have come through that process to the point where we ended up building a very strong, trusting and positive relationship we ended up going from week to week with hardly any issues at all.

One of the main drawbacks of Q having so many 1-1 sessions was that he was missing out on the social interaction with his peers which he would have if he was attending school so I decided to introduce him to a local adventure playground, we would go there during school hours when there were no other children so he could get used to the environment, because of the park and the nature of it, he was able to experiment with supervised fires, use hammers, nails, all other types of tools, experiment with the elements. He would often stay late and was given a chance to interact with all kinds of different children.

I felt he excelled in this environment, and I began to see some really positive changes for the better in him, He told me he really enjoyed coming to the playground and even started accessing the park independently.

He told me he would like to be an adventure playground worker when he grows up, which is a very positive change from his previous answers of bank robber and murderer.

There is was no doubt Q was a complex character with very complex needs but I felt he benefitted from the time he had attending our service which to shows that in the right environment and with the right people around him, his needs were easily manageable.