Tristram had to finish college because he could no longer cope with the work but we didn't want him to forget the skills he had acquired or lose all structure to his day.
For various reasons he will never be able to have employment outside the home but let's have a look at what he can do...
Tristram has become very confident around our horses and he is able to fill their haynets and take it in to them which is a huge help to his dad. He can fill up their water, groom them a little and with help enjoys being sat up on one of our Clydesdale horses. He also enjoys a horsey cuddle which gives him a little time out.
He will help muck out and generally has a go at most jobs. Now he is bigger and stronger he can help his dad lift wood and other things when doing general jobs around the smallholding.
Now I'm not saying any of this is easy - or even consistent. Some days we have to keep repeating a request or reminding him that something needs finishing. We cannot give him more than one instruction at a time and often he misunderstands a request but he will have a go.
It is important that he is encouraged to do useful jobs around the place so he gets some fresh air, keeps a little active and healthy, is encouraged to take some responsibility so that he feels a sense of achievement and the confidence to know that he is genuinely helping within the family.
I asked him to put a pan in the dishwasher the other day and he looked really confused and was going to put it in the sink. I showed him where the dishwasher was and he simply put the pan, right side up, on the bottom of the tray! So okay, he has limitations... But we got round that. With my health problems filling the dishwasher is a huge achievement but it is so much easier if Tristram can pass me things and I can load the items properly. So another achievement is he can help me and we can work together - we help each other!
Because Tristram can help a bit with the horses they are used to him and he knows what is safe to do and what isn't. We always talk about 'health & safety' on the smallholding because we know he did this in college. He seems to enjoy their company as much as they do his. We think his difficulty with eye contact and his natural quietness with them is a bonus. We cannot allow him to cross a road by himself as he has never been able to learn to judge car speeds, etc, but he is allowed to go out to the horses at the back of our house on his own as long as we know when he is going. He knows the safe areas and understands how the electric fencing works.
Tristram's communication skills are much younger than his actual age so it is difficult to just his comprehension age and level of understanding. He seems to learn vicariously by observing the actions of others and copying this behaviour. This means that he might not understand why he is doing something but just knows that is how it is done. But maybe this doesn't matter too much if he feels that his contribution is a real one. We can tell that he is annoyed if a job is seen as a token one and not really something useful.
Inside the house Tristram will do some vacuuming, make the odd cuppa and generally do his bit. It is important to ecourage him to do 'adult' things where possible because he IS a young adult. Of course we recognise that he has limitations but we also have a responsibility to recognise the things he can do and at least keep trying. His dad tried to show him how to use the washing machine on a simple wash but he has to show him each time how to do it - the same as crossing a road. But he has just nipped out to give a haynet to Daisy, his Haflinger mare, and we like to recognise what he CAN do and not get too wrapped up with the stuff he still needs, and probably always will, need help with.