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Choosing your future: how advocacy supported Hayden to be heard

25 January 2023

Hayden will be leaving his residential school at the end of the year. His family and staff wanted to know more about what he would like to happen next.

Hayden* loves his small model kit collection and watching Only Fools and Horses. Hayden can tell you lots about himself, though he benefits from time, symbols and pictures to communicate. He’s well settled at his residential school, but he’ll be leaving at the end of the academic year, and his mum Becky and the school staff wanted to know more about what Hayden would like to happen next.

Advocates Caitlin and Sophie have worked at the school for some time, and had been asked to carry out some future planning workshops for all young people in Year 9 and above, with a focus on choosing preferences such as having a nice home, being more independent or having a job.

They then chatted with Hayden directly about topics he was interested in, before talking about the future. To prevent anxiety for Hayden, this was not framed around the idea of him moving away yet. 

Caitlin and Sophie offered ten broad future options to Hayden. These were visual, using photos and symbols to convey meaning. 

Hayden was most interested in having a nice home and travelling. He didn’t choose any options related to work or learning. Hayden had lots to say about his personal qualities and skills such as being friendly towards others and liking lots of different activities. 

Sophie observed Hayden after the session, and he struggled to stay focused in school.

Planning for the future

Sophie gave an overview of Hayden’s views at a planning meeting, using a mix of what Hayden had told her and what she’d observed. 

She shared Hayden’s desire to travel and have a nice home. As Hayden hadn’t said he wanted to continue learning, combined with his ongoing difficulties with focusing in school, Sophie felt Hayden was likely coming to the end of his education and a college placement was not the next step he would choose.

Hayden’s mum Becky agreed that although Hayden has potential to learn new skills, further education was unlikely to be right for him. 

During the meeting, Becky and other professionals thanked Sophie for the work that had been done to ensure Hayden’s voice was heard. 

Becky is going to look at possible adult homes for Hayden closer to family. As having a nice home’ is important to Hayden, Sophie will explore with Hayden what would be on his shopping list for a nice home, such as living in a big house or a small house, or a busy or quiet area. 

Hayden’s choices about this and his favourite activities will help Becky find the right home for him.

* To protect people’s privacy we don’t use their real names, but their stories are genuine.