“I figured this was going to be a difficult situation”, Sarah says. Her son Reuben sustained his spinal injury whilst still living at home. Reuben has autism and therefore has very complex needs. He was on the brink of moving in to supported housing when he sustained his injury.

Sarah says: “We needed to think about his mental health needs as well as the impact of him now being in a wheelchair.”

During his stay at Stanmore Spinal Centre, Sarah raised the issue of housing to many who were supporting Reuben through his rehabilitation but there was a limited amount of advice or help they could give.

She says: “It was an incredibly worrying time; I was worried about his mental state, this was really weighing on my mind. The whole situation was devastating and frightening. I was looking around for anything, any help, any information.”

Reuben at Stanmore

Sarah came across Aspire at Stanmore Spinal Injury Centre and was introduced to the Aspire’s Housing Case Manager who informed her about Aspire’s accessible properties. She says: “Just to be able to speak to someone friendly and supportive was invaluable. Sometimes I just needed someone to listen.”

After a short wait for a local house to become available, Reuben was able to move in to the Aspire House. Sarah says: “When I got the phone call that there was a property available I was like ‘I’ll take it!’. I remember putting the phone down thinking ‘this changes everything’. It was absolutely fantastic news – it was a way to move forward.”

"I remember putting the phone down thinking ‘this changes everything"

Protecting Reuben from any kind of worry was Sarah’s main goal throughout the whole experience. “I wanted him to focus solely on his recovery. He lives in the moment and doesn’t really plan ahead. Questions like ‘where am I going to live?’ or ‘what am I going to do?’ don’t really enter his mind; it’s an inherent feature of the autism.”

Leaving the family home was hard for Reuben and Sarah tried her best to settle his feeling of vulnerability and anxiousness about something happening outside in a place where he wouldn’t be able to protect himself. All that mattered to Sarah was that Reuben felt safe in his environment.

Reuben on his flat terrace

Reuben moved to an Aspire House close to his family home in an area he was familiar with. Sarah exclaims, “it’s gone better than expected! Reuben absolutely loves the flat!”

She says: “Living in the Aspire house has really allowed Reuben to maximise his independence. He’s able to a lot for himself, washing, cooking etc. If I think about the awful places he could’ve ended up, I can’t imagine that he would have made such progress, this is such a major thing for a young man.”

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