Lee Derbidge: Finalist for the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Award 2016

10th May 2016

Congratulations to Lee Derbidge who has been nominated for the Making a Difference Award and is now a finalist! Lee was nominated for this award by our Special Projects Director, who said the following;


“During Lee's 10 years here it has been recognised by parents, social workers and other professionals that he has, without question, enhanced, even transformed, the lives of autistic individuals.

In particular, Lee has pioneered the use of IT to vastly improve communication and understanding with individuals who are non-verbal and can use challenging behaviour to communicate, potentially resulting in exclusion from local communities, facilities and external activities.

A major success is the creation of bespoke social stories, stored on DVDs. Each DVD is unique, based on an individual’s interests, and aims to develop their ability to access and function in the community, safely and without anxiety.

It's recognised that autistic individuals may have "obsessions" or "obsessive behaviour".  We see these as "passions" which can be a motivator, attracting and holding an individual's attention, therefore being a key to effective communication. Frequently receiving a message from a character who is liked results in strong engagement.

Some examples are:

C now safely accesses shops and environments with DVDs and games. Previously he would break doors or displays to get hold of these. As he responds to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles he has a social story on DVD that enables him to understand he doesn't need to do this.

N now accesses the community, activities, days out etc. without him inappropriately or dangerously touching, and running to, cars. He also no longer tries to “tidy” cars, when he previously wanted to close doors and boots and pull off windscreen wipers if not correctly aligned. There is no longer a constant risk of running across the road. He regularly watches his DVD, which enables a full and active life in the community, including his first ever day at Haynes Motor Museum.

Wenn Lawson has a bespoke social story, which helps him to handle the minefield of baggage claim at airports. Dr Who continues to engage and motivate!!

L now washes and brushes her hair.

J allows blood to be taken without sedatives.

I could go on. However, every day there is more as Lee is continually working towards better communication, quality of life and ultimately community and communal access and choice for the individuals he is so passionate about.”