Yesterday I went to meet a new lad. They had come as a recommendation from one of the first families I ever tutored and haven’t seen in several years. That family were also friends with another family, and he was one of the sweetest lads I have ever worked with.

The first time I met him he threw himself into the corner of the settee and screamed. Each time his mum tried to approach him he would thrash out. He was non-verbal and is on the Autistic Spectrum.

The second week I went the same thing happened. I wondered if I could find an excuse to not have to go…

I feel guilty saying that now. However, after a few weeks he started spending time with me. He was very much into Cars, the Disney film.  So, I would take an image with me to colour based upon the characters in the film. We would “talk” about the colours we were using. Slowly I extended that so that there was a letter on each part of the image. We could then talk about the colours and the letters. We would draw other things that started with that letter. He would occasionally write the word of it underneath.

Slowly his confidence in me and in himself grew.

It got to the stage that when I knocked on the door, I could hear him shouting to him mum: “Miss Dawn’s here, Miss Dawn’s here!” Then as his mum answered the door, he would off to find something to show me. Then he would come running back with so much enthusiasm and guide me through to where we worked.

He was one of the nicest lads ever. I haven’t seen him since before lockdown, but yesterday’s mum was saying he is now reading books.

Yesterday, when I knocked on the door of the new house, the mum led me in and all I could see at first were a pair of legs hanging out of a big storage box. That was my first introduction to this lad. A non-verbal lad who has been diagnosed as having ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).

Not every child we work with has some form of learning difficulty, but many do. The emotions you feel when these children reach a milestone, no matter how small is life changing. This new lad is in a mainstream school and the teachers are struggling to cope as he is disruptive. They have told the mum it is like having an 8-month-old baby in the class. The lad is 5 and I think it broke his mum’s heart for them to speak about her son like that.

Our targets will be small. Next week I will be taking tasks associated with Mr Tumble (The CBBC character that does sign language) and I will try to engage him with that. If I can engage him for just a couple of minutes, we will have made our first step towards progress.

Every child we work with is unique, whether they have a label such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, or not. They each have different starting places. They all have different end goals. Each child will take different route to achieve their goal. Our role is to guide, encourage and inspire.

Have a great week and speak soon.

Warm wishes

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