Lizzy and Yvette’s Story

Lizzy & Yvettes Story

Yvette (PA employer): “I am mum to six children, three of whom still live at
home. My youngest two children, Anthony, 11 years and Kieren, 10 years,
both have autism, but that is where the similarities end. They have very different personalities with very different needs. My other son, Terrence, also has an impairment so family life can be exhausting and challenging. I was not offered any support after the boys were first diagnosed so life was very difficult. Even something as simple as getting all the children ready and out to local nursery or to meet the school bus was a bit of a nightmare, particularly
as Anthony and Kieren have no road sense and can run very quickly without warning. I couldn’t chase after one and leave the others unattended!  Also in the home the boys require very different strategies to keep them calm and Terrence, who has less complex needs, was becoming ‘invisible’ and was not receiving the attention he deserved.  Eventually, thanks to a very helpful local authority worker and after reading a booklet about Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living’s services, I applied for Self-directed Support and was awarded a direct payment for both Anthony and Kieren.”

Lizzy (PA for Anthony): “For the past nine years I have worked as a pupil support assistant in the school that Anthony and Kieren attend. I work on a one-to-one basis with Kieren, Anthony’s younger brother, but socialise with
Anthony at school events. Prior to working in the school I completed an SVQ3 and HNC in Social Care.  I am currently studying for a BA in Childhood and Youth Development because I love the work I do and I am committed to acquiring more skills.”

Lizzy And Yvette Speech 1

Yvette: “I decided to place an advert for a PA in Anthony’s school because I thought that perhaps the staff might know of a student teacher interested in some additional work. I wanted someone with experience of working with children, but also someone young and energetic: you need to be with Anthony!”

Lizzy: “Having chatted to Yvette, I decide to apply. I was keen to develop my skills and experience and as I was already working with Kieren, I believed I would be able to fit into the family dynamic and provide some consistency for Anthony. I felt I could use my knowledge to support him in settings outwith the school. Yvette and I did have some concerns that seeing me in a certain role at school and then a different role at home would be confusing for Anthony. We agreed that before I started I would prepare a ‘social story’ using pictures and simple language to help Anthony to understand my different roles. This worked well and Anthony accepts me in my role as PA. I work with Anthony for some hours after school during the week and for a few hours at weekends.  My role is to encourage and support Anthony to develop his social skills, and to be able to engage with people beyond his close family circle. Anthony can very easily become overwhelmed by his environment and this increases his anxiety so we keep things simple and straightforward and make sure he knows what to expect. I will offer him a choice of two options based on the activities he likes to do and he picks. He loves swimming, cycling, all things ‘trains,’ being outdoors, going to the cinema and he loves a pub lunch! When we go for lunch, instead of me ordering for both of us, I encourage Anthony to tell the staff member what he would like to order. He has a couple of favourite places so the regulars know him and will greet him with perhaps a ‘hello’ and a smile. I encourage Anthony to respond with a greeting. When we go swimming, I place his clothes in the order he needs to put them on, then leave him to dress himself. Sometimes he calls for help and I end up calling instructions from the next door cubicle while trying to get myself dressed as quickly as I can! Yes these are small steps, but Yvette is very aware of the need for Anthony to become more independent of his family at a pace he can cope with. I also support Anthony with his bedtime routine to give Yvette time to focus on the other children.”

Yvette: “A PA has to have patience, understanding and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of the person they are working for. I am inviting a PA into our home and they have to possess the sensitivity to fit in with my family’s life, but most of all there has to be good communication, mutual trust and respect. I welcome suggestions from Lizzy about new activities or strategies and we discuss key issues like setting boundaries, but she respects that the final decision lies with me. I also expect everyone concerned to take a consistent approach with Anthony.”

Lizzy And Yvette Speech 2

Lizzy: “I enjoy seeing the different sides to Anthony in school and at home and being able to support him to deal with the variety of situations he faces. I also enjoy seeing a positive difference in the other members of the family now that I am here to share the responsibilities of supporting Anthony. Yvette has just appointed a PA for Kieren and she is going to shadow my work with Anthony as part of her induction.  Working in the school and as a PA while studying for a degree is a challenge, but Yvette is very flexible and supportive. Recently I was worried about completing my final essay of the year on time. Yvette gave me the evening off so that I could complete it. In turn I am happy to adjust my
hours for special events or to support Anthony on family outings. It’s about
‘give and take’ on both sides.”

Yvette: “If you are thinking of becoming a PA, just do it! Having a PA to share the responsibilities of supporting Anthony has improved the quality of life for everyone in my family, particularly Anthony. By using a person centred approach a PA looks after his physical, emotional and social needs, encouraging his choices, independence and fulfilment. Life is completely different now and I could never go back to the way things were before.”

Lizzy & Yvettes Story 2