At the age of 17, Katie* was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. After Katie’s offer of a provisional University place, the pressure to return and complete her A levels is believed to have triggered a deterioration in her Mental Health.
Katie was depressed with psychotic features, she had a history of self-harming, experienced tics and had an eating disorder. Before coming to Milton Park, Katie overdosed twice and at one point she absconded and walked onto train tracks when the safety barriers were down. This led to Katie being admitted to a NHS mainstream service that did not specialise in Autism.
Katie’s Pathway to Independence
In February 2016 Katie was admitted to Elstow 1 which is Milton Park’s locked rehabilitation women’s service. Katie explained that at this point she did not understand Autism at all.
Whilst on Elstow 1, Katie engaged with Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Psychiatry and the staff working with her. She received psychology sessions and psycho education which enabled her to gain insight into her diagnosis, how this affected her life and strategies to manage this. Occupational Therapy worked with her on making phone calls as this was an area she struggled with and she is now able to make phone calls confidently. Occupational Therapy also supported her with her sensory needs as this was an area of her Autism she hadn’t previously understood or known how to manage. Katie said: “Elstow 1 helped me achieve what I had wanted to when I was admitted and enabled me to progress and become ready to move into Pathway House”.
Pathway House is a residential care home on the site of Milton Park that enables patients to transition from a Mental Health hospital placement into community living and was the next step of Katie’s journey.
When Katie moved into Pathway House, she wanted to continue to build on her confidence, become more independent and get back into education. She has said that Pathway House helped with this as it provides more freedom and exposure to life experiences.
Katie’s big aim was going back into education and achieving her A levels so she could go to University. She was supported to gain confidence and experience with speaking with others, using public transport, answering emails and managing her own medication. She said: “Gaining these skills have made me become an adult and be more independent”.
Katie went to college to start her A levels, she feels that getting back into education changed her the most and that she realised she could do it with the right support.
Whilst at Pathway House Katie did suffer from a deterioration of her mental health and she experienced some psychosis. She went back to Elstow 1 for a short stay to stabilise and receive the treatment she needed at the time. With this support, she recovered quickly and returned to Pathway House within 2 weeks.
Katie completed her A levels and achieved two A stars and an A, which was a massive achievement. Katie has now started University and with support she has been able to move into the University student halls. She also attended the Tracscare Awards in April 2017 and presented the Best Autism Practice award on stage in front of almost 250 people.
* Name has been changed for confidentiality
When asked what Katie felt about her experience she said: