I have just been handed Billy’s end of year report. Before I share this with you, let’s just remind ourselves of who Billy is.
Billy is 16 and has autism; he is my son and sits snugly in between his older sister Bella by 16 months and younger brother Toby by two years. When Billy was diagnosed at age two and a half, he was non-verbal, a head banger, high-pitched screamer with unbelievable health issues. We were advised by a family high court judge that the best thing we could do would be to put Billy in a care home and get on with our lives. Our family doctor said he would never speak or live with purpose.
So, back to his school report
Speaking and Listening – Billy listens carefully to verbal instructions and has improved in his ability to process such information. He is beginning to employ questioning techniques when looking for clarification around an instruction.
Reading – Billy has no difficulty reading and comprehending written instruction. He will act correctly upon written instruction and usually does so without the need for verbal reinforcement.
Writing – Billy writes clearly and legibly demonstrating a range of vocabulary functional to his needs and interests. He follows templates well and is able to complete a simple application or questionnaire on his own.
Mathematics and Numeracy – Billy understands basic mathematical processes and is independently able to carry out calculations involving simple addition and subtraction.
Employability and Work Skills- Billy is an incredibly reliable and enthusiastic member of the site work team. Over the course of the year he has worked hard in all of our projects. In doing so he has mastered a number of work skills many of them transferable to future roles. Another noticeable development this year has been Billy’s attention to detail and desire not simply to do a task but to complete it to a good standard. He knows when a job requires either a delicate touch or more vigour and this awareness places him towards the top of the group in tackling many of our regular work tasks.
Computer Skills – Billy continues to demonstrate his competency in and enjoyment of using ICT.
Overall Comments on Progress – Billy’s progress displays a readiness to progress to a supported work placement and we will look to identify a suitable opportunity for Billy early in the coming academic year.
Never speak or live with purpose? Billy has autism and with this comes many issues. The road ahead – just like the road before – will of course be hard. There will be the usual battles with the powers that be just to get basic support for people with autism. But, for those starting out on the autism journey: please be careful when you are given negative advice by professionals. As you can see with Billy, they couldn’t have been more wrong.