My field internship clinical practice was conducted in First Home Care in Portsmouth, VA. During the course of the practice, I worked with two clients in Day Support Treatment for Autism Adults. I established two main objectives as guidelines for my practice. First, I tried to identify the areas where the clients experienced difficulties interacting with other members of the community and provided support and advice intended to mitigate the barriers. Second, I tried to encourage their autonomous functioning and provided them with overall directions that were expected to simplify everyday actions.
The work with both clients was done on a one-on-one basis. The clients and I did volunteer work of delivering food to homeless people. Specifically, we packed bread and delivered it to churches, where it was distributed among the homeless. I consider this task to be appropriate for several reasons. First, the task was relatively simple to perform, which is an important encouragement factor for the clients.
The specificities of cognitive processes in adults with autism spectrum disorder may complicate relatively simple tasks, creating a barrier in the long term. By immersing them in a predictable and non-stressful environment and offering routine manual tasks, I wanted to facilitate a positive effect on their emotional wellbeing. Second, the activity was expected to have a positive emotional impact due to the opportunity of directly engaging with a vulnerable population and observing the effect firsthand. Simply put, I intended it to be a satisfying experience both ethically and emotionally.
In addition to the volunteer work, I made sure to provide support to the clients in minor aspects of their daily routines by facilitating their interaction with the peers. For instance, I encouraged one of them to walk at a slower pace in the mall and engage in conversations whenever it was required, such as making excuses when passing other people and asking before using the bathroom. Communicational difficulties are among the most significant barriers to social integration experienced by people with autism.
By equipping the clients with basic social skills, I tried to improve their capacity for social interactions in the future and increase their chances of becoming functional elements of the community.
The activities performed during the field practice were consistent with a number of Saint Leo core values. Specifically, I focused on values of community and personal development. The first can be illustrated through the example of interaction with one of the clients. During our time in the community, I encouraged the client to appropriate conversation with strangers in the store. Admittedly, such an opportunity presented itself only on two occasions. However, in both cases, it was consistent with the principle of fostering the spirit of belonging and contributing to the socially responsible environment, which is a necessary element of the community’s core value (Saint Leo University, n.d.).
In the same regard, my advice to keep his voice level in the public setting was expected to normalize the client’s communication. In the future, the experience will provide him with the possibility to strengthen the character of the community while at the same time expanding his employment options, thus facilitating a balanced development of mind and spirit development (Saint Leo University, n.d.). To sum up, I consider my field internship practice to be largely successful in providing the clients with the skills and experience necessary for integrating into their immediate social environment.
Saint Leo University. (n.d.). Core values. Web.