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Case Study: Mark’s Journey

Mark’s history

Mark* is a 19 year old man with a diagnosis of autism, mild learning disabilities and hyperkinetic conduct disorder. He has a background history of illicit drug use and involvement with gangs. His autism made him vulnerable to being used by gangs, which happened frequently in the past.

In May 2018 Mark pleaded guilty for possession of an offensive weapon, class A drugs and grievous bodily harm. This led to Mark being detained at a Secure Training Centre. He was then transferred to a medium secure unit for 7 months before coming to The Springs Unit at Cygnet Hospital Harrow in July 2019.

When Mark came to us

Mark had struggled in the past following his parents’ separation and his father moving out of the family home, Mark found this hard to understand and process emotionally as predisposed by his diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

This may have led to him displaying challenging behaviour as a way to communicate his needs and frustration. Mark worked towards stepping down to The Springs Wing, a specialist open rehabilitation ward at Cygnet Hospital Harrow for men with autism.

Mark’s Care

Initially Mark perceived his admission to The Springs Unit at Cygnet Hospital Harrow as a negative. Upon being admitted, he subsequently went through a short period of aggressive outbursts which led to seclusion and being placed on one to one enhanced observations.

After a couple of months on The Springs Unit Mark was able to build trusting relationships with other service users and professionals, and was observed spending time positively in communal areas. He engaged well in treatment interventions such as psychology and was able to be open and transparent about his thoughts and beliefs. Mark came to understand that he can be vulnerable, which is what led to him being recruited to join a gang and being peer-pressured to engage in criminal activity.

“I am continually confident in Springs Unit′s ability to meet his needs and work with him through this transition period.”Local Health Professional

Due to Mark engaging in psycho-education around gangs, using an adapted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach, he came to show insight to the dangers and consequences of being in a gang. From this intervention Mark came to understand there was a clear distinction between his positive and negative peer group, the positive peer group would provide good guidance for Mark to motivate him to not engage in criminal activities and violence. Mark also enjoyed occupying his time with other activities such as music, cooking and watching TV programmes.

Mark Today

When Mark stepped down to the open rehabilitation ward, The Springs Wing, he continued to engage enthusiastically with therapies. This helped Mark to understand his emotions, coping in high stress situations and to learn and practice effective communication and assertiveness skills.

Achieving his set goals and being equipped with new life skills in August 2020, Mark was discharged back into the community to live with his mum. We wish Mark well for the future.

*Name has been changed to protect his identity.

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