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Peter joined Yeovil College in 2009 from a local school to undertake an A-level programme. He had achieved good grades at GCSEs and was particularly interested in maths and sciences. Peter had been diagnosed with Asperger’s and struggled with hand-writing, organisation and social interaction. He found social situations very difficult and during the college interview process avoided making eye contact and questions were generally answered by his mother. His tutor felt he would struggle to succeed within the college environment and certainly would not be able to produce well-structured solutions to maths problems.
At school he had a one-to-one Teaching Assistant and used a laptop in lessons. When he started at college we arranged for a Learning Support Practitioner to support him in the classroom and take notes. In addition he had some one-to-one sessions in the Learning Link Area, with a specialist support tutor who helped him to organise his work and keep on track with his assignments.
Initially he was very withdrawn, found it hard to socialise, walked along with his head down and spent all of his free time in the Learning Link Area. He found it difficult to get into classroom, walk along the corridors or get into a lift because of the other people around and one of the support team would meet him to walk him to the class. His personal tutor and lecturers supported him by making reasonable adjustments but at the same time treating him as they did all the other students – as an individual who had an individual learning style, an individual learning programme and aspirations to move on to higher education.
He arrived at tutor group sessions on his own but initially often found it too daunting to even attend. By the end of the first year he was happy enough to turn up for the session without having to be cajoled. Although he still did not interact with other students, he was at ease being in the group.
Because of Peter’s poor handwriting it was difficult to follow his written solutions in his main subject. Simple strategies were put in place to overcome this problem, like starting every new question on a fresh page. This enabled teaching staff and examinations boards to be able to mark his work appropriately.
By the end of the two years, Peter was much more confident, walked tall, interacted better with other students and spent less time in the Learning Link Area. He achieved much better results in his ‘A’ Levels than anyone had ever anticipated and has now progressed to a degree course at the college’s University Centre.
He has been awarded Disabled Student’s Allowance and still receives support in the classroom and from a one-to-one specialist tutor. However, he now feels comfortable sitting within the group and not next to the support worker, indicating how he has gained in confidence and independence. He has settled well into University life and the move to a new environment. He is continuing to work very hard and looks set to achieve his goal of gaining a degree. We all wish him every success in the future.
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