Please note, the following story contains reference to self harm
Say hello to Joseph. He recently spent 12 weeks at our Becton Centre – but you would be more likely to find him walking his dog, Eddie, now.
17-year-old Joseph, who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was admitted to Ruby Lodge after struggles with his mental health and anxiety.
His mum, Rachel said: “Joseph had made several attempts to harm himself. The whole experience of him being admitted to Ruby Lodge was very hard. But it was made easier by the excellent staff on the Lodge. Everyone was very caring and nothing was ever too much trouble for them.
“Joseph took part in lessons and different therapy sessions. He looked at different colleges and careers with the staff. He did lots of cooking too!”
Ruby Lodge is one of four lodges at the Becton Centre and has a seven bed inpatient unit for children and young people with learning disabilities, aged from eight until their 18th birthday who have severe and complex mental health and behavioural problems.
Whilst at Ruby Lodge, Joseph was supported by a multi-disciplinary team made up of nurses, doctors, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and psychologist, to produce a comprehensive assessment of his mental health needs.
This support came in different ways; Joseph attended psychology sessions where he discussed emotions and feelings, occupational therapy sessions where he built on his independence skills, family therapy sessions and school-based sessions where he looked at future career choices. Ruby Lodge also worked with Joseph and his family closely to get to know him on an individual basis and develop knowledge of the support they may need in the future.
Rachel said: “The staff were great at keeping us informed of everything that Joseph was doing, and he really enjoyed his lessons. Staff went to a lot of trouble to find out about what Joseph was interested in and tailored his lessons around them.
“Since leaving the Centre, Joseph has been spending his time with his Personal Assistant practising his independent skills like cooking and shopping. He has also started working with a tutor to continue his education until a suitable college placement can be found.”
Rachel would also like to share her thoughts on how Autism is perceived:
“Over the past few years there has been a lot of awareness around Autism. Famous people have come forward to talk about their own children who may be autistic, there have been TV shows based around Autism, articles in newspapers, and this has all helped with the general public’s understanding. A lot of the publicity is around ‘typical’ autism but as it’s such a large spectrum and can effect an individual in so many ways there is still a lot that the general public do not fully understand.
“I would like families to be supported better after diagnosis and I would also like to bring people’s attention to the teenagers who are autistic but also suffer from mental health issues, as before our son’s mental health declined we had no idea of this link.”
When asked about his own experience, Joseph said: “All the staff at Ruby Lodge were really nice and I liked my lessons and cooking. I feel better now and can see a future.”