Hughie was referred to SELFA when he was 4 years old and when the family were going through a very difficult time. They had just received his official diagnosis of Autism and were struggling to communicate with him. Hughie was non-verbal and his behaviour was hard to manage, particularly when they were out of the house, meaning the family quickly became isolated due to the lack of support available.
Hughie is now 6 years old and regularly accesses SELFA’s provision. As well as term time activities, he regularly attends our SEND sessions in the school holidays that include stay and play sessions for all the family as well as family trips out facilitated by SELFA. Before Hughie’s referral to SELFA, days out to attractions were something the family had never attempted before and they were extremely out of their comfort zone. However, with encouragement and gentle handling from the SELFA team, Hughie and family had a wonderful time on their first SELFA trip to a local museum. Mum has said; “This was the start of amazing things for Hughie and I strongly believe SELFA has directly improved his quality of life and ability to participate in social activities”.
Due to consistent mentoring and opportunities to see and play with familiar children on a regular basis, Hughie now recognises friends and is able to acknowledge them by their names. He once played in his own world but SELFA has supported Hughie to build relationships with his peers, family and staff and feel a part of a community. After taking part in regular sessions and being surrounded by safe and positive staff, Hughie will now approach a SELFA team member and mum has a noticed a significant difference in his confidence to so.
His confidence is not the only development that mum has noticed since Hughie started attending SELFA’s holiday sessions; “SELFA has encouraged Hughie’s independence completely by giving him the opportunity to attend special education needs sessions without parental supervision. He has understood the expectations and structure of his time at SELFA and has been actively encouraged to try new experiences and work alongside his peers without having his primary carer next to him”. Hughie trusts the staff completely and feels safe and secure within the environment so is now confident to stay and play independently.
Mum goes on to say, “Being part of SELFA has awarded Hughie the opportunity to experience structured, safe and suitable activities which would have been completely unmanageable without the support of SELFA. Both Hughie’s self-esteem and confidence have been boosted, which has increased his understanding and ability to try new things. He feels a sense of belonging which is crucial to his social development. He feels proud of the work he does at SELFA and always remembers the places he has been and what he has achieved. Through attending SELFA activities, Hughie can now recognise and respond to praise and it’s this encouragement from SELFA that has made such a significant difference to his life”.