“Hi I’m Matthew…”
I have a condition called Tuberous Sclerosis. I am Autistic, and I have epilepsy. It’s very important to me to be encouraged to engage in all sorts of activities to keep me stimulated. I especially enjoy being out and about in the fresh air, but equally I love to relax whilst listening to music, or enjoying a pint!
My Week At Next Step
I go to Next Step two days a week with my own support worker. On Wednesdays I go to the gym and swimming in the morning, and then I attend a music session in the afternoon followed by a relaxing foot spa. On Friday morning I do gardening as part of an “exchange” with my old school Ravenscliffe, after which I use their adapted bikes. I have made fantastic progress on the bikes and can now use a mountain bike independently with the aid of stabilisers. I also have my own tandem at home and I ride this most weekends with my dad or my support worker, and I enjoy taking it on holiday with me too. On Friday afternoon I do baking. Over time I have learnt where all the items are kept in the kitchen and now need very little assistance to find them. This has been a long process and I have used a combination of computer software and a picture exchange communication system (PECS) to help me build up a visual understanding of the whole process. I still need lots of encouragement to stay focussed but I enjoy the end result – being able to eat and share what I’ve baked with my family.
Although I only attend NST two days a week, it forms a very important part of my life and weekly routine. Without this I would become very confused and upset. When I left school NST didn’t exist and there was very little specifically for me to get involved in. So my parents, together with some of my friends’ parents, helped to set up the Next Step Trust. I was one of the very first people to attend. It has proved very successful for me and helps keep me focused. It is also very important for my parents as it means they know I am engaging in stimulating, fulfilling, and meaningful activities which encourage me to maintain and develop various skills. They are very proud of me and very proud to see how much NST has grown.
The rest of the week when I am not attending NST I go gardening and horse riding with Social Services. I go walking all over the Calderdale countryside with my support worker and the Halifax Rambling Society. I play rugby for a mixed abilities team at Ovenden Park on the weekends, and I keep active at the weekend with my parents.