We provide day services at Seaford, Croydon and Gippsland for people 18 years or over who are profoundly affected by autism or have other complex disabilities. Our clients have vastly different individual needs and often challenging behaviours which may hold them back from actively participating in the community.
For the most part our clients would have attended a special development school before transitioning to our day service. They may live at home in a family environment, in one of SASI's group accommodation homes or in care with another accommodation service.
Clients often refer to their attendance at day service as "going to work". However, when they come to us our main focus is to try and help them develop their skills in relation to:
This is achieved through a diverse program of activities all designed to build confidence and encourage skill development in these areas.
With each new client, an assessment is made to determine what they are trying to achieve and a program is designed to help them realise their goals and maximise enjoyment. This called a Person Centred Plan and it provides a consistent approach to support the person to achieve their goals.
By building the capacity of the person through planning collectively and by focusing on the individual's gifts, talents and skills rather than deficits, we can enhance the opportunities for the individual to engage in activities that promote a sense of belonging in their community.
A Person Centred Plan is about who the person is, who is in their life and what we can do together as a service, parents and carers to achieve a better life for the person now and in the future and, importantly, achieve their personal goals.
Structure and routine can reduce the stress for clients. Knowing what to expect is important. Each client has an individualised weekly timetable, which provides them with different activities each day. These are undertaken in small groups of between five to ten people based on their Person Centred Plan.
SASI's program of activities varies from site to site and is determined by the needs and the ability of the participants, but all are designed to develop the same skills.
Activities can include:
Additional wellbeing programs such as a sensory room, yoga and relaxation are also offered.
Many of our clients' behavioural issues stem from the frustration of not being able to communicate what they want and need. To help build communication skills, SASI has a specialist communication officer, who works with each client independently and with a speech pathologist if required, to determine the most appropriate and effective communication aids for each person.
Some people communicate better through pictures so their daily timetable is set up using diagrams. Others prefer the use of flash cards to express themselves or to help remember how to complete a specific task such as making a cup of coffee. iPads are also being utilised as a tool to develop communication skills.
People with profound autism are not comfortable, and usually do not have the skills to socialise. Most activities are designed to encourage clients to interact with people around them at the centre and also in the community. Drama and music programs help people build confidence through role play. Excursions help build confidence interacting with strangers and other members of the community.
SASI is responsible, in some sites, for meals on wheels delivery routes each week so clients have the ability to develop rapport with the people they are delivering to on a regular basis. Beachlynn was recently awarded a 15 year certificate for services to the City of Frankston for delivering Meals on Wheels. This activity serves to develop skills in dealing with different situations and enables our clients to contribute to the community. Art and music are always very popular activities because they enable participants to express themselves creatively.
A communication book provides daily feedback to parents and carers. This feedback helps build trust and rapport between SASI staff and parents and carers. For people who do struggle with communication, notes in the communication book can also help parents and carers start a meaningful conversation about the activities of the day.
"I love the music program because it's awesome. I get to dance, sing and move to songs."
"Using Google to search my favourite celebrities, trains and old cars."
Chance, who is into IT and likes working on computers
"I help to make afternoon tea for the group and choose the recipes we cook."
Malcolm, who enjoys the sensory cooking program
SASI's day services operate Monday to Friday 46 weeks of the year.
Outside of this time clients can join SASI's recreation programs and in some cases parents will access respite.