A young autistic man from West Sussex who has never been on holiday before because he experiences severe anxiety is celebrating making an overnight trip to Alton Towers.
Sam Motton, aged 25, made the 230-mile to journey alongside two members of staff from Coneyhurst Lodge residential service in Worthing where he lives.
‘It worked out really well,” said Coneyhurst service manager, Elvira Panxha. “He was amazing. He was really calm and cheerful and took everything in his stride.
“We helped prepare him for the visit by taking him out on regular short trips to different places and then staying a while to slowly build up his confidence.”
Deputy Manager Dan Adams and senior support worker Aimee White who accompanied Sam used visual guides, known as ‘social stories’ to help him know what to expect.
“Even with fast-track tickets we had to wait five-minutes to get on The Smiler,” said Aimee. “Normally this would have presented a huge challenge but he didn’t bat an eyelid.
“This was a huge milestone for Sam and something we can build on for the future.
“He had a fantastic day, the scarier the ride the better. He was laughing the whole time, while poor Dan and I were holding on for dear life.”
Back at their accommodation, Sam watched a film with a pizza, and enjoyed a good night’s sleep before the trio returned back to Worthing the next morning.
“The whole staff team and Sam’s parents are really proud of his achievement as Sam finds it difficult to stay anywhere that is not his own room,” added Aimee.
“We’re hoping to take him to Disneyland Paris in September to meet up with his parents. They want to have a family holiday together which they haven’t been really able to do before.”
The team are now preparing Sam to be able to stay away from home for up to two nights so he can make the journey.
Coneyhurst Lodge is run by the Regard Group which cares for more than 1,300 people, with a dedicated staff of over 2,600 people on 161 sites across the UK.