Jake is 16 years old and has autism and social and communication difficulties. He attended Laleham School in Kent, a school for students with autistic spectrum disorder and language and communication needs. Over 12 years he became an integral part of the school community and was familiar with his peers and staff.
Jake had significant concerns about moving into further education as college was going to be a much bigger and busier environment. He presented with extreme levels of anxiety and had significant trepidation about moving to college. It was clear Jake would require an effective transition programme from school into college. Designated staff from East Kent College’s additional learning support (ASL) team worked closely with Jake during his last six months at Laleham School .They got to know Jake and built a rapport and developed an insight into effective strategies to help.
After much deliberation Jake made an application for the life, employability and personal progress (LEAP) course at East Kent College. The aim of the course was to develop Jake’s confidence, self esteem and effectively build the foundations for him to eventually migrate to another course at the college.
To ease his transition it was agreed with the family that Jake would attend a week-long summer school at East Kent College. It was a complete success for Jake. He familiarised with students and staff and got the ‘heads up’ on the expectations of the LEAP course.
Once September 2011 arrived, Jake had an assigned staff member for whom he could call upon if he had any concerns. He also had access to a bolt hole in the form of the ALS team office if things became too much for him. Once he felt confident to trust significant staff, issues became easier to resolve.
Outside of college Jake is goalie for Galaxy football team. This involves training on a Thursday evening and a match on Saturdays. Jake has difficulties travelling with the team due to his high level of anxiety so alternative arrangements had to be made for Jake to travel with his family. He still has significant difficulties in accessing the community and linking up with friends, and he often spends time alone in his bedroom playing computer games.
Jake is a real inspiration. There have been some significant areas of development and we need to celebrate his success. Within three months of enrolling at college Jake moved on to a level one computer course and he is now accessing GCSE English to improve his grade from a C to a B. He walks independently to college from home every day. Prior to this, he was dependant on his family.
Recently he was invited to an 18th birthday party by one of his college friends. Up until the day he was unsure about attending but with some gentle encouragement he went and danced the night away. He gave his parents strict instructions not to pick him up until 11pm. Throughout his life Jake will continue to have his ups and downs but with the right support and understanding we hope he will have a very bright future.
- Colleen Flegg, Additional Learning Support facilitator, East Kent College
Read Jake's personal account of going to college.
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