Henry joined us at Cambian Wing College in September 2018 with a primarydiagnosis of High Functioning Autism and associated mental health difficulties. He had been out of education for a long period of time as a result of his mental health difficulties and had most recently spent over a year as an in-patient in a secure mental health facility. Unfortunately Henry was unable to return to his family home as the relationships there were a significant trigger for his mental health issues and he was therefore enrolled at the college as a 52-week residential student.
We were aware of his high intellect and huge potential throughout the admissions process but his extreme anxiety and suicidal ideation were barriers to him truly making progress and working towards his potential. Therefore a clear and robust integrated programme of academic, therapeutic and care support was paramount to his success.
Henry settled in well to his residential house and to college, fully engaging with all services available from day one. Though there have been some incidents of anxiety provoked discharge behaviours including self-injurious behaviours and withdrawal from the outside world, the integrated approach has ensured that these are minimal in comparison to his previous issues and the development of trusting relationships has enabled him to find the necessary support and persevere through his difficulties. Henry was initially supported 1:1 within education and care to aid the development of trust and to ensure that the more extreme SIB (self-injurious behaviours) stopped being his ‘go to’ response to stressful experiences. As a result Henry began to see that his life could take a very different path and he voiced that he would be keen to try studying for some of his A-Levels, with support at a mainstream college.
From September 2019, Henry enrolled in two A-Levels at a local college, initially supported by an LSA (Learning Support Assistant) but, at his request, this ceased within 8 weeks. Henry successfully completed the first year with glowing reports from the mainstream staff and is very excited to commence year 2. Henry has proved to himself that he has now established effective coping strategies to manage his anxieties the vast majority of the time and is able to actively participate in any given situation; this is through his own hard work and determination to leave the past behind him and find his own future.
A major stumbling block on admission had been the reparation of relationships within his family and we were determined to enable these relationships to once again flourish and for Henry to be able to return to his family home for successful, uneventful visits. Over time and with successful joint working between the Cambian Wing College team and the family, Henry is now able to return to the family home for a few weeks at a time and successfully maintains positive and healthy relationships with all members of his family.
The journey from in-patient to a very successful first year at a mainstream college has not been easy for Henry but he has continued to amaze both the staff here and his family with his drive and determination to succeed. Henry's A-level results for 2020 are a testament to his success in which he was awarded an ‘A’ for A/S level Chemistry, an ‘A’ for A/S level Biology and an ‘A’ for A level Maths.
Henry is now fully independent in the community, able to access mainstream learning unsupported, able to use public transport, can tend to all his self-care needs and independently cook his own meals, alongside a whole array of other independent living skills; none of this was thought possible when he first came to us but is testament to the effective triangulation of education care and therapy services here at Cambian Wing College and the collaborative work with the LA, social care and his family. Working together, we have helped to ensure that Henry can achieve everything he once thought impossible, and this is now his new reality.