People that come to our groups have different disabilities. These can be sensory, learning, verbal and non verbal, physical and mobility issues. Yet, they all enjoy doing art or listening and singing to their favourite music, and are developing at their own pace. In social skills, friendship building and team work. These are the positive outcomes Uniquely Me & U are having on their quality of life.
There is another wonderful effect that I have experienced, that I would like to share.
Each person that comes to the group, I help them to settle in and try to understand their disabilities, and how best to help them. I observe how their support workers interact with them, and they with their support workers. This helps me to understand the person, and gives me ideas on how I can get to know them. This is important to me.
Having devoted my life to helping my autistic son. I have learnt a great deal on how to ‘connect’ with people living with disabilities.
This ‘connection’ takes time and patience, and most of all EMPATHY. I try to help them feel loved, important, respected and accepted for who they ARE.
The atmosphere at our groups is calm, happy and a safe environment. This is very important that it is maintained. As our members are very sensitive to upset or negative people coming into the group.
I have learnt over many years working with my son, how people with sensory issues, autism or learning disabilities react to ‘certain people and environments’.
Over the four years now, from the start of Uniquely Me & U, I have met some lovely people who have come and gone. I can remember every one of them. How I got along with them, and how they were with me. All happy memories.
When I am in the company of our members, I have compete empathy with them. I feel they trust me, and enjoy being at the groups. Also, the very special ‘connection’ they have with me and I them.
I have been very fortunate and humbled to have received some simple comments or statements, that have been completely spontaneous from our members, that was so heart-warming, and inspiring. They made me feel very touched and emotional. To hear words and comments from people who don’t usually say or show their emotions or feelings, is something very SPECIAL to me.
Let me share some illustrations of the wonderful comments made by members to myself over time.
‘I love you, and dancing with you’.
‘You can be my sister’.
‘I like art group, and want to help you to keep it going’.
‘You help me’.
One heart-warming comment made by a member who doesn’t talk much, and finds it difficult to lift his head to make eye contact. Came up to me slowly, and gently put his arms on my arms, lifted his head to look at me, and said quietly.
‘I love you Yvonne, I really do’, and he walked slowly on.
The honesty, innocence and meaning, said with clear speech. I felt an overwhelming calm and peacefulness. That this member was able to express his feelings, at a time when he felt he wanted to. It confirmed the understanding/connection between us .
It illustrates the true meaning of LOVE to me.
His support worker asked me what the member has said, as he never hugs or holds anyone. I answered by saying, ‘he is happy at our group’.