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2020- What a year it has been!

29th March 2021

A reflection on the past year from our Community Services team.

One year ago, our working practices altered significantly as we acclimatised to the covid 19 pandemic. It was an unprecedented event, and the team were keen to support families in new ways, often working well out of their comfort zones!

We moved from face-to-face contact to telephone, teams and zoom; from training sessions in person, to webinars and zoom training.  The team made videos for the AWM website to support families with implementing structure and home schooling. One of the team developed a relaxation information sheet and an accompanying video to try to help our young people to relax.

People on a computer screen in a Zoom meeting

Isolation was a real problem, so we immediately set up Facebook groups to enable parents and carers to link up, attend watch parties together, come to zoom support groups and share any queries, ideas, and information. These groups have been very popular and a great way for families to reach out quickly when they need a bit of help.

The team have delivered advice appointments to hundreds of parents/carers over the duration of the pandemic and continue to do so. We have seen an increase in complexity of cases, as the changes to our usual daily lives have taken their toll upon our families. We have taken time to listen, provide ideas and strategies to support families and really understand and appreciate what they are going through.

During lockdown, we have been able to deliver a far wider training offer, including our Rising to the Challenge programme with accompanying zoom sessions, the Return to School, Talking with your Child about their Diagnosis and EHCP/SEN webinars, to name but a few. It has been interesting to see how numbers of attendees have increased since we have been delivering in this format, which is definitely useful for us to recognise moving forward.

We have amended our Teen Autism Confident programme to enable online delivery and have run 3 programmes over lockdown. We have also managed to keep in touch with some of the young people from previous programmes to support them over lock down.

We were lucky enough to gain some funding via several initiatives over the Covid period, including working with Barnardos on the “See, Hear, Respond” campaign. This has bought work from a far wider area and given the opportunity to deliver support in new and exciting ways. We have worked with several families to assist with helping young people back into school, delivered therapeutic support to families who are struggling with a variety of issues and worked directly with young people to help them to understand and feel positive about their autism diagnoses.

All in all, the team have been super busy and worked incredibly hard under often very difficult circumstances, due to working from home and the isolation that can bring. We have had our own difficulties during the period, as we have our own autistic young people at home and this period of change, uncertainty and upheaval has affected us all. We have laughed together and shed some tears over the last year; it has been very tough for us all.

Photo of Amanda

“What I would like to celebrate this Autism awareness day is the incredible strength and resilience of our wonderful team; they have provided support and helped so many people and I would like to thank them for their passion and commitment. We have supported each other during some very emotional times, and I appreciate you all more than I can say.

I would also like to celebrate all those families who have worked so hard to juggle their lives with home-schooling, managing their children’s anxieties under the current circumstances, coped with an ever-changing set of rules and uncertainty. You are all amazing and now that we can see that light at the end of the tunnel, we will hopefully be able to meet up in person soon once more.

I hope that this time next year, this is just a distant memory and we can celebrate the next WAAD in person!” – Amanda- Family Support Assistant manager

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