Oliver left a mainstream college over a year ago, where he was well supported and made excellent progress.
He achieved a BTEC in Applied Science Forensics with a triple distinction. The difficulty had been identifying an appropriate next step. While academically a higher education course was within his capability, it was initially felt that the model of delivery, which is often lecture based, did not suit his visual way of learning.
Oliver struggles to find employment
He struggled to find any employment, whether voluntary or otherwise, in his skill area (forensic science) or other area of interest (animals). His mother felt that the current economic climate was not helping. She says: "No one had enough capacity to mentor a volunteer". Oliver was put on an "access to work" programme, but funding for that was stopped. He managed, with some difficulty, to access a disability employment adviser, but his mother says "this has not really led to anything useful."
During his time at home Oliver did not mind it, saying "I'm not bored." However, his mother was anxious he spent almost all of every day in his room playing computer games. She says: "It was not good for him, socially, and it was a real waste of his brain!"
Continuing to develop skills
In the light of the current employment difficulties, a more practical higher education course was tracked down so that Oliver could continue to develop his skills. He has now started his Foundation Degree in Animal Management. The content of the course is certainly within his capabilities but the learning structures need a lot of tweaking as do the assessment procedures. Both the support staff at his university and on its board are working hard to find the best way forward. Oliver's mother says they don't know yet whether that level of 'academia' can be achieved.
This story has been reproduced from Ambitious about Autism's Finished at School campaign with kind permission.