APC Stories #1

We often get questions about what it looks like to work with Autism Personal Coach. To answer some of those questions, we wanted to tell the story of one of our clients, Kerri, who lives in Ohio. Kerri does not have an official diagnosis of autism, but she is diagnosed with ADHD and has experienced a traumatic brain injury. Kerri felt like Autism Personal Coach might be able to help, and we are happy that she reached out for support!

Kerri experiences major executive functioning issues that impact her day-to-day ability to function. Tasks like sending emails, paying bills, completing paperwork, and planning meals…even grocery shopping, managing her medication, and completing household chores are difficult for her. Like many people on the autism spectrum, Kerri feels anxious about leaving her home. The outside world is a filled with unknowns that are often difficult for people on the autism spectrum (or people with sensory challenges) to navigate.

Kerri says, “This [anxiety] affects me in many different ways, but the most obvious one is that it leaves me feeling isolated.”

On top of these challenges, Kerri is also the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, and just parenting a child with special needs takes a special set of organizational skills, communication skills, and constant networking. Kerri was drowning in stress.

She reached out to Autism Personal Coach for help and began working with Doug. Kerri says, “Doug has helped me to see myself as I am and to be ok with that.” Doug has helped Kerri to learn to feel positive about accomplishing small goals. “Less is more for me,” Kerri says. “If I schedule less and celebrate small victories, I will stay consistent.”

A consistent practice among our coaches is positive feedback, and Kerri says Doug helps with this, particularly when she’s made the effort to communicate something challenging. “This has given me more confidence and enabled me to gain stronger communication skills,” she says. When they work together to find a solution that helps her day run smoother, “Doug is continuously supportive of the intervention.”

Since leaving her home was difficult, Kerri primarily worked with Doug in her apartment to start. Our coaches work with clients to create manageable goals, and for Kerri, that began with the goal to incorporate brief walks at the start of each session.

Another technique Doug incorporated was something called bal-A-vis-x, which is a “brain gym exercise done outside,” and it helped Kerri to focus. Kerri is proud to report that in the past few months, they have built up to 4 outings. “One was to get my nose pierced, which I have always wanted to do!”

When we say we adapt our sessions to the client’s interests, we mean it. This works both ways: Kerri discovered that she did not enjoy going to the coffee shop with her coach–she found it over-stimulating. This was another success for Kerri, because she made the effort to go and recognized that as an environment where she did not feel comfortable.

Before finding Autism Personal Coach, Kerri was struggling to navigate support services in Ohio. For adults, there aren’t many options and Kerri says she found that follow-through was inconsistent at best. Kerri found it exhausting to meet with intake coordinators and caseworkers. She says, “A plan is written, promises are made, and you are filled with hope. And then there is no follow through and nobody comes back.”

It’s understandable that Kerri says this experience breeds distrust for helping professionals. She found it traumatizing to tell her story to so many people and not to receive help. At Autism Personal Coach, we pride ourselves on our ability to listen. We are committed to following through with our clients, celebrating all victories–big and small–and helping each client to make a plan for success. For Kerri, sometimes success looked like walking to the park and riding the swings. Stepping outside her comfort zone and feeling successful transferred to other small victories to make each day easier.

What would success look like for you?

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