My son Jacob has a diagnosis of autism and moderately severe learning difficulties. It has since come to light that he is very likely to also have social anxiety issues and PDA. He attended Thriftwood school from age 4 ½ and continued on to the Thriftwood College. He was one of the first cohorts of students for this provision, therefore he joined the college as a student at the same time that Michele first joined it as staff.
My first impressions of Michele were very positive-she was positive and friendly, and I felt able to discuss any issues I had with my son.
Jacob is a very complex individual and communication with him is often difficult-not only because of his comprehension of language, but also because of his social anxiety and PDA. He requires being listened to, not laughed at and it is often a minefield trying to negotiate or enable him to understand what is required of him. He also requires being ‘nudged’ out of his comfort zone at times to ensure that he is resilient in the world.
When Jacob went to K5 at Thriftwood College, Michele immediately ‘got’ what Jake needed and how to ‘handle’ him. She gained his trust and was able to ensure he improved his independence skills and how he handled himself in the big wide world. I completely trusted that Michele would always allow Jacob to do things she felt he was capable of doing, even if I was too scared to allow him to do them myself!
Prior to leaving his last placement at Chelmsford College, he was able to walk from Chelmsford College into town or to Thriftwood College without support. This is something I would never have dreamt of him doing, and it was Michele’s input that made this happen. He is also able to buy things from shops, be polite to staff in shop and ask staff questions, all with the help of Michele.
I am so pleased to be able to add to her gleaming repertoire of testimonies and I am more than happy to support her new venture.