We all communicate in different ways
Sometimes it’s not easy for people to express the choice they want to make. In his short story, Advocate, James, describes using art as a unique way of encouraging Daniel to express his views, wishes and feelings about where he lived.
Daniel is autistic and often finds expressing his views difficult as he is very sensitive to other people’s feelings and puts them ahead of his own. Daniel was living with a shared lives host. Shared lives hosts are paid to open their homes to support eligible people, including people with autism. Daniel had been asked if he wanted to live with an Aunt and Uncle elsewhere in the country. I was asked to support him to explore the options and express his views about what he wanted.
I met with Daniel at his home and explained my role as his advocate. We talked about his college and hobbies and he showed me his notebooks full of drawings - art was clearly his passion.
I visited Daniel twice more so he could get to know and trust me, but he still felt unable to speak about where he wanted to live. At the end of the 3rd visit, I asked Daniel if he would like to draw something to represent his choice. Daniel liked that idea and agreed to create something.
When I next visited, Daniel had created a brilliant comic strip of himself, using speech bubbles to express his feelings and the choice that he was making. Daniel chose to stay where he was, living with a shared lives host. Not only did Daniel feel able to show the comic strip to me but was also happy to show it to all the parties involved, expressing his decision in his own way.
We all communicate in different ways; it’s just a case of finding the right way.