In our modern connected world it seems almost impossible that families can lose contact. However the reality is that this does, and it is more likely to, happen with people who have learning disabilities and autism.
Recently Lizzie was reunited with her brother after over a decade apart.
Jen, one of Lizzie’s care workers explains:
“Lizzie has been in care most of her life. When I started working with her 11 years ago I was told she has a brother who visits her but I didn’t meet him. When Lizzie moved into her supported living home we wrote to him with her new address. However we didn’t hear back.”
Dimensions took over the service that supports Lizzie four years ago. ‘Relationships with Family and Others’ is one of the eight domains of Activate, the program we use to support the people in our care. This recently prompted the support workers to try to find her brother.
The team had a phone number for Lizzie’s brother but it didn’t work. Ashlea, another member of Lizzie’s support team, put together a newsletter with pictures of her showing what she had been up to over the last 10 years, although the team no longer had a valid address they were determined to try to find him.
Suddenly, out of the blue that same week Adult Services called to say a lady had been in touch looking for a Lizzie. The lady had Lizzie’s full name, but no other information, not even Lizzie’s date of birth. This was the break Lizzie’s team needed, they now knew that her family were trying to find her too.
Ashlea called the contact details provided by Adult Services. The lady who answered was the daughter-in-law of Lizzie’s brother. Jo explained that Benny (Lizzie’s brother) had lost his wife eight years ago and that, because Benny was deaf, his wife had been the main contact. At Christmas, Benny said that he wanted to find Lizzie, so Jo determined to track her down.
Benny himself had moved and had not received the original letter. The team thought it was fabulous to be speaking to Lizzie’s family but also slightly surreal as the timing of their searches was such a coincidence.
In January there was a very emotional reunion for Lizzie with Benny, her niece, nephew and niece-in-law. Lizzie immediately recognised her brother giggling, laughing and smiling for the whole time. The family have since visited Lizzie again as they, unbelievably, only live 30 minutes away. There are plans to take her to the beach in the summer.
Benny wants to remain in Lizzie’s life. This is great news for Lizzie: For the last 11 years she has only had paid carers in her life and now she has a big friendly family who want to be part of her life and for her to be part of theirs.