Simon was born with a condition called hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain). As a baby, this caused concern for his family, as he continually cried and frequently banged his head.
Following his diagnosis, Simon had a shunt fitted to drain the excess fluid and his family were hopeful that this would stop the head-banging; but as time went on they learnt that the condition had caused brain damage.
Simon grew up at home with his mum, dad and two older sisters in a fun, lively and loving home that was full of music, dancing and laughter. He attended a specialist early years setting and later on went to a school that could support his needs.
Simon uses head-banging as a form of communication.
Simon is non-verbal and was also diagnosed with Autism as a child. His head-banging continued as he grew up and his family recognised that he used it as a form of communication. However, that didn't stop him from leading an active lifestyle and he enjoyed activities such as swimming and horse riding.
At 17 years old, Simon moved into supported housing. His family were worried about his head-banging and they needed support. At first, he had his own room within a house but over time his carers recognised that he preferred his own space and advised that he would benefit from having more independence.
Simon loses his eyesight and Hightown staff adapt to his changing needs.
Now, at 45 years old, Simon is living in Hightown's supported housing scheme; in his own self-contained flat at Grove Gardens in High Wycombe (where he has lived happily for the past seven years). The family soon begun to see the benefits of having his own flat, as he was less anxious and more relaxed.
A few years ago, Simon lost his eyesight due to the long-term effect of his head-banging and his needs began to change. After discussing the issue with his family, staff arranged for padding to be added to Simon's flat, to allow him to move around independently, and safely. Staff at Grove Gardens also noticed that he felt anxious going out and was happier within his own environment and were able to advise his family that changes were needed to his day programme. His changing sensory needs have led the team to use their expertise around autism and they've tried out a range of sensory activities using sounds and touch to stimulate and relax Simon.
Simon's mum told us how happy she has been, especially since Jeanette Tolhurst took over as manager:
"The team at Hightown has been superb. The care workers we've known over the years have always been empathetic, but Jeanette's knowledge about autism and her sensitivity to his needs has turned his life around.
"You can't help being overprotective as a parent but we trust Jeanette, she is like family to us, her door is always open and it helps us to feel more relaxed knowing that Simon is in safe hands.
"She has also given the staff a new lease of life, they feel appreciated - and it shows!"