A smile says it all: how PBS and OT ‘joined forces’ to help Tim venture out and about without supports

At Better Rehab, our clinicians often work in multidisciplinary teams to provide comprehensive support to participants. So when Tim needed help to achieve his big goal – travelling to and from work on his own again – Penrith-based Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner Amy-Lee and Occupational Therapist Hannah were at the ready.

It was while Amy-Lee was providing support to Tim, who has autism spectrum disorder level 2, mild intellectual disability, unspecified anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, that she discovered he had stopped accessing the community independently for many years, and the reason behind it. 

“Tim had an extreme fear with accessing the community independently due to a previous traumatic event. This led to a decline in his independence and quality of life,” explains Amy-Lee.  

According to Amy-Lee, Tim yearned to be more independent; “Tim would become frustrated when having to do things with others, instead of being independent, however he found it challenging to try and move past his fear.” 

Taking the first steps to greater independence 

Amy-Lee decided to set Tim a small first goal to start his skill building for travelling independently. “Tim’s first goal was to walk independently from his home to the hairdresser around the corner. This goal also involved ongoing work on understanding, recognising and implementing coping skills in relation to a ‘fear response’,” says Amy-Lee. 

When Tim achieved this goal, Amy-Lee brought in OT Hannah, to support Tim further in expanding his skills. 

Tim’s big goal: to catch the train to and from work on his own 

With the support of both Amy-Lee and Hannah, Tim expressed his desire to travel independently again to and from his workplace on public transport. 

To help Tim achieve this goal, Hannah first conducted a community access assessment. “This assessment identified challenges in Tim’s ability to safely access the community independently, including reduced safety awareness, reduced ability to plan trips, and to respond to unanticipated situations that might arise whilst in the community,” explains Hannah. 

To address these challenges, Amy-Lee and Hannah worked together to develop a tailored program and supports for Timothy and his staff to continue his skill development and capacity building outside of his OT and PBS sessions. The program, which Tim called his ‘travel training tips’, included regular opportunities for him to practice relevant skills with supports in place, including safety awareness in the community and accessing fearful situations.  

An independent work commuter once again! 

Tim’s hard work soon ‘paid off’ as he started to demonstrate increased skills and confidence in accessing the community independently. A functional reassessment also revealed that he had achieved his goal to access his community and workplace without his supports. 

“Tim is now catching the train to work and back three times a week, and is very satisfied with his progress,” says Amy-Lee. 

Tim says he now feels ‘invigorated’, adding that “without travel training tips, I wouldn’t have the confidence.” 

Amy-Lee and Hannah are equally thrilled with Tim’s dedication to achieving his goal; “We loved working alongside Tim, supporting him to achieve his goal. He is a joy to work with and was always highly motivated to strive to reach his goals. When we saw Tim’s smile and positive energy when we did the final trial, and he realised that he could go to work independently, we couldn’t help but smile alongside him,” says Hannah. 

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