Two men gardening at Henley Allotment, kneeling by a blue planter

Adam working with with Ben.

Adam’s story

Adam has been working in the care industry for Autism at Kingwood since May 2016. Here, he talks about his role as a care worker and some of the difficulties he faces.

‘A typical day would be seeing two or three people and making sure they are OK and that they’ve got what they need. In the long-term, I am supporting people to live a fulfilled life, and to make their own decisions about their lives. But the first lock-down meant there were massive changes to how we all were living our lives, and it’s really difficult for people on the autistic spectrum to deal with change. Sometimes it felt like the positive outcomes of years of support had been negated overnight.

For example, a daily task, like going to the supermarket, might be a huge issue for someone on the autistic spectrum. They may have sensory overload, anxiety – stuff like that. So you could be taking baby steps for months to support people to go to the supermarket, reassuring them that it’s a safe and a good thing to do, and then suddenly it’s not a safe thing to do. That’s been really difficult to communicate to people I support.

That’s one example, but medical appointments have been super difficult. Often with autism you have accompanying conditions – most commonly epilepsy; so getting those sort of things dealt with has just been a minefield, really. Trying to organise necessary appointments and just trying to replace what they’ve lost, to keep them engaged both mentally and physically has been really, really difficult.

For me, work is never far from my mind, even on rest days and annual leave. I feel a great sense of responsibility towards the people I support and the only thing I can liken this to, is having a second family to look after. Some things just can’t wait until the morning and very often work interrupts personal plans and family commitments. The rewards of being able to enrich the lives of the people I support gives me a great sense of job satisfaction and I regard it as a great privilege to work with such wonderful people.

The main area of difficulty within the role for me is the financial stresses that working on a low wage brings. I have learned to live with the anxiety of knowing that my wages will not cover the basics that I need, and therefore each month a bill will have to be deferred or a promise to one of my children broken or we’ll have to go without something. Unfortunately financial restrictions impact on nearly every decision I have to make.

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