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how do we support someone who does not want us there

How do we support someone who does not want us there?

Flair & FINE COMPLETED the intake for a new participant and the NdIS plan states

Short term goal – My parents would like me to build my capacity to understand, express and regulate my emotions, both at home and in the community, so that I can develop coping strategies and recognise the signs of anxiety and depression in order to interact appropriately with the people in my life.

Short-term goal – Mum would like me to learn strategies for making and keeping friends, and how to recognise and understand hostile, threatening behaviour and bullying and how to deal with these so that I can develop appropriate behaviours for interactions with others. 

Medium or long-term goal – My parents would like me to be able to have social and communication skills and understanding, to interact with family peers and in the school and wider community so that I can express my emotions and needs in an appropriate manner, to be happy and make good decisions and choices.

Before starting to work with Emily, she helped to create a profile about herself that can be used to introduce her to the support workers without needing to communicate orally. Emily prefers communication without words. 

Emily – About me: my favourite thing to do on the weekends is spend time in my room by myself, in my pyjamas.  I wear my headphones all day and night and I listen to my favourite audiobooks. My headphones help me block out excess noise and thoughts and I’m able to focus on what I want to do. I really, really, enjoy reading. My ideal weekend would be to stay in my room all weekend and read and make things and eat jelly and not have to talk or communicate with anybody. I am 14 years old. 

Short term goal number one:  Her mother would like Emily to increase her assertiveness and become more socially interactive with family and friends.

Short-term goal two:  Emily‘s mother would like you to be able to understand and regulate her emotions so she can become more confident in social situations and with her peers as she advances through high school. 

Medium or long-term goal:  Emily‘s mother asks you to work on Emily’s social communication skills to interact with family peers and in the school and wider community so that she can be happy and make good decisions and choices.

You have been asked to work with Emily through the NDiS access the community. As a Support worker what would the plan be? Remember we always refer to the Flair & FIne Policies and Proceedures. 

On your arrival, despite Emily’s mother’s wishes and the directions that she gives you to carry out the goals according to the NDIS Plan, Emily refuses to engage with you and hides in her room, repeatedly saying that she doesn’t want any workers.

Would your response be different if Emily was 10?

What do you do?

Do nothing. This may be one of the few situations where doing nothing is the most appropriate course of action. By doing nothing we are actually doing a lot. We are recognising Emily's autonomy and her own interoceptive awareness that she does not enjoy conversation and she does not like to be told where and when to go.  By doing nothing we are building trust with Emily.  Emily will begin to understand that we are there to support her by doing nothing.

Call shift supervisor Huma. 

What would you expect Huma to do at this stage?

Emily needs to understand that she has 12 hours of support over 3 shifts and she needs to be dressed and ready to go when the support worker arrives. Emily's feelings about not wanting to leave her home are irrelevant. The NDIS said that she has this time as support and that she must use it. This will not end well. Emily has been honest in her reflection of what her needs are. When stating the short term and medium-term goals Emily has prefaced all by saying Mum or my parents would like… (sic). This is not what Emily would like. This would go against the principles of choice and control. 

D - Support Emily to educate mum and dad on how she is feeling and what her wishes are in regard to interacting in the community. Together, providing some guidance going forward. Remember the short-term gain of a day out may cause long-term issues and break down needed trust if Emily feels her needs are not being understood. 

Would you do something different? 

Tell us what you would do.

Would it change your answer if you were to know that Emily is a first nations child, and she is 4 years old?