Our lead for transition, Catherine Goodall describes here her experiences of attending and presenting at the Transition Event in Coventry.
I recently attended and presented at the Transition Event in Coventry. It was an excellent day with a range of speakers talking about different topics, and it got me thinking about some important points on transition.
I was really inspired by Patrick Samuel’s talk. Patrick is an artist who has Asperger’s syndrome. Having had some really negative experiences of his own transition, Patrick found solace in his art, and uses it as a form of therapy. His really emotional and compelling talk got me thinking about the types of support we offer young people as they go through a really challenging process of moving towards adulthood, particularly when they are disabled or have SEN.
Often I think it feels like we need to provide very specific types of focused support through a formal service or provider to meet the needs of young people. But I imagine if someone had helped Patrick when he was a child or a young man to see that his creativity and artistic skill could also be therapeutic and could help him express his feelings, he might have had some very different experiences.
Whilst the significant legal and practice changes which have come about in the past five years for children and young people that the event discussed are hugely important, we need to remember not to lose sight of each individual person, and what they might need to feel valued and supported as they grow up. Our lives as individuals are complex, and are made up of so many different elements; hobbies, friends, relationships, jobs, our community, and it’s the same for all children and young people.
Parent carers and practitioners are often focused on two or three of these areas, usually health, independent living and employment. These aspects of our lives are undeniably very important, but we as individuals will have been more or less focused on them over the course of our childhood and our teenage years. At times we would have been far more interested in doing whatever our friends were doing next, or in focusing on our hobbies or interests, and we need to remember to make space for all young people to do the same.
Overall I was struck at the event by how positive recent legal and practice changes for children and young people have been. I think we can often get bogged down in seeing the problems in a system, and if you a parent who has struggled to get support for your child or young person navigating the system can be hugely frustrating and upsetting at times. But we have been making progress, our young people are better supported by the law and the requirement to provide support than ever before, and we should remember to celebrate the positive impact this can have on transition for young people across the country, when implemented well.