Tuck by Truck's daily conference calls are making a real difference. “As soon as Matthew heard his workmate's voices, a huge smile of recognition came on his face. The genuine warmth of these greetings was so special and touching” say Matthew's parents.
Choice Support staff have been working hard since the Coronavirus outbreak to find new ways to stay connected and continue to support people who are in lockdown at home. Matthew, who learns work skills at one of our employment projects called Tuck by Truck, is making use of the daily conference call for people who usually work together at the project.
Claudia and Jonathan Goodman, Matthew's parents, describe how the lockdown has been for their family so far:
"Matthew is far more settled now. The first week at home was extremely difficult. Matthew, normally a sweet-natured, cheerful man was clearly extremely distressed and anxious. Everything he has known and loved for so long (especially Tuck by Truck) was suddenly snatched away with no warning. How can someone with autism begin to understand this?
As his mum, it was heartbreaking to see him looking so confused and upset. I found some visual social stories to explain the Coronavirus to him in simple terms over the coming days. On Monday, he wrote a beautiful yet simple poem, expressing his feelings of despondency and unhappiness.
We put various routines and structures in place for him; doing things we know he enjoys, like writing stories, drawing pictures, doing Word Searches and playing board and card games. We also made sure we exercised daily (we're both fitter now than we were a week ago!).
But it was when Julie and Mandy at Tuck by Truck told us about the daily conference calls that has made the real difference to his life, and ours. 'Just dial this number' we were told. 'Put in the PIN and you'll be able to chat with everyone.' Really? That simple? It was instantaneous ... as soon as he heard his workmate's voices, a huge smile of recognition came on his face. 'Hello Lee! Hello Simon! Hello Matthew! How are you? ... you OK?' they asked each other. The genuine warmth of these greetings was, for me, so special and touching. There were louder voices, some very articulate and vocal, but Matthew didn't care - it was enough for him to hear those familiar voices and listen to their chat. I suggested he'd have to speak a little louder if he wanted to say something. Each day he has rung in and each day he has become more involved in the chat. One day last week they did a Disney quiz - that was brilliant, and Matthew really enjoyed it. Today, they had to tell a joke!
I can't speak highly enough of Julie, Mandy, Alison and Peter who do such an amazing job bringing everyone together in that phone conversation; asking each individual some questions about their day and what they've been up to and commenting on their replies with such empathy and care. It's clear how well they know every person! Every so often they let everyone chat together, often talking over each other, excitedly! I just can't help smiling as I listen - all so happy to have this opportunity. Matthew wouldn't miss that 2pm appointment for anything. It just brightens up his afternoons!
The lovely friendship and exercise workbooks with multiple choice questions and pictures are fantastic. Matthew and I haven't got round to doing them yet, but they're ideal, a fun thing to do and an excellent learning resource. Great idea!
Thank you to everyone at Tuck by Truck for lighting up Matthew's life during this very difficult period for him. We are so grateful for your support in Matthew's work throughout the normal (non-Coronavirus) times, too."