Thomas and Benjamin are now 19. They have spent the last year doing a combination of Ambitious About Autism (AAA) and mainstream college at West Thames.
How fantastic that year has been.
The college year began a little rocky. Not due to the boys themselves, but to the fact that the LA did not sign off their EHCPs in time for AAA to recruit any one to one staff for them. We arrived home from holiday to be told they couldn’t start until half term. As they were doing mainstream one year Btec classes, this could potentially be a disaster and could mean their placements would need to be deferred for a year. Luckily, the college were very flexible and agreed to one of our part time carers accompanying them to classes until new staff started.
We didn’t know how the transition would go from a very small special needs school where they had been for the past seven years, to a large mainstream college.
We decided that Thomas should do a Level 1 Btec in art and design which wouldn’t put too much pressure on him.
We just heard he got a distinction.
The head of the faculty said that a distinction is rare for any student, let alone one with autism.
Benjamin is a talented drummer. He also composes his own songs and accompanies himself on the guitar or piano. He can pick out tunes by ear and plays the piano without being able to read music. His course was a Level 2 Btec in music production and performance.
Bearing in mind that his musical tuition mostly consists of a one hour lesson each week with a very talented musician, we didn’t know how he would get on.
He got a merit.
Again, the same head of faculty said a merit at Level 2 is rare for a student, let alone one with the difficulties Benjamin has.
It’s hard to write and express how proud I am of my boys. How hard they have both worked all year to achieve these amazing grades.
The support they have received has been exemplary. Not only do their one to ones accompany them to Btec classes but they also teach other skills in the remaining time when they are not in mainstream. Speech and language therapy, social skills, oraganisational skills.
They travelled home from college separately on the day they got their results. Benjamin arrived back to tell Thomas
‘I got a merit’.
Thomas responded with
‘I got a distinction’.
Bit of sibling /twin rivalry there as they looked at each other.
I immediately countered with
‘But Benjamin did a level 2 which is much harder than a level 1 and he has never studied music before so his merit is equal to your distinction’. ‘I am very, very proud of you both’.
The motto of this post is –
Find your talent and you WILL succeed.
Their determination in everything they do shines through. Next year they will return to do Btec Level 3s in their chosen subjects. How amazing to think our boys who were non verbal and diagnosed with classic, severe autism aged just three would go on to be achieving what they are now.