Kieran and his Quest journey
When Kieran first started his school life his struggles soon became apparent as he tried to adapt to the unwritten rules of school life. He found the pressures of sharing a class with lots of other children challenging as he hated the noise. Following instructions from his teachers was impossible as, unless a specific instruction was directed to him by name, he couldn’t process that he was included so would ignore the teacher. Trying to figure out social rules with the other children was too overwhelming which then caused behaviour issues to spiral. Luckily he had a supportive teacher who recognised there was obviously a reason behind the behaviours and he was referred to CAMHs within the first half term.
Within the year, Kieran had been assessed and primarily diagnosed with Autism, quickly followed by a further diagnosis of ADHD.
Over the next 2 years of his infant school the gap in learning became wider, the behaviour escalated and the bullying started as he was constantly teased for ‘writing like a baby’ by his peers. His work never appeared on classroom walls and parents evening became an event to be dreaded as we were ‘those parents’.
Despite our overwhelming concerns, Kieran moved to his junior school and our fears were soon confirmed and he became more anxious, unhappy and angry as he just couldn’t cope with demands to conform to ‘the norm’ and he spent more and more time out of the class.
Each morning the battles increased which always ended up with me crying on my drive to work with the words of ‘you don’t love me, you hate me and you don’t care’ swimming in my head making me feel like the worst parent in the world!
After struggling to find a school that would meet Kieran’s needs we were told about a new school which was due to open in Rugby in September of that year so I started researching. Looking at the website, I was impressed and it had everything our son needed, it seemed too good to be true so I arranged to meet with Nicola in her temporary base at Discovery school.
This is a day I will never forget. We took Kieran along and right from the start Nicola directed her chat to Kieran but not in an overwhelming way and he sat and listened to her plans for her new school. She took an interest in him and listened when he spoke. After a short space of time, Nicola noticed he was fidgeting and asked if he would like to go for a walk around. During this time, again she spoke with him, introducing him to another learner around the same age who would be transferring to Quest and for the first time he smiled and my heart melted.
At the end of our meeting Nicola asked if we had any questions Kieran asked ‘can I come to your school?’ When we got back in the car Kieran asked if he could go to Nicola’s school. I asked if he was sure, did he really want to go and he said ‘yes mum because I can finally be the real me.’ Well I can’t describe the feeling of overwhelming love I had for my child at that moment in time, I was immensely proud and I cried all the way home!
Within a number of weeks Kieran was granted a place at Quest and we began the transition. The school were fantastic and we had regular updates, were given lots of information, received home visits and went out on group visits to help the transition process but it wasn’t all just about Kieran, our whole family were made to feel like we were part of the Quest family too.
When the big day arrived we were all nervous and worried but Kieran was still up and dressed in his new uniform ready to start his new chapter. After a tense and anxious day on our part much to our relief Kieran came home beaming and full of how his day at been, from his amazing teacher ‘who doesn’t shout’ to his new friends and in his words ‘I finally have friends mum’. Knowing our child was being supported and not judged was such an overwhelming relief and for the first time we actually had hope for his future.
3 years on
Kieran is now into his 3rd year at Quest and the change in him is evident. He is happy and thriving and has a sense of belonging. He now has friends around during the holidays and is always chatting and laughing with his class mates on his Xbox. During his time in mainstream he had fallen quite significantly behind in his academic studies but now thanks to the patience and dedication of the Quest staff he is now where he should be and will be able to sit his GCSE’s in year 11. He no longer complains every morning of ‘being too poorly for school’ and is up and ready watching out of the window for his taxi to arrive.
At school he loves his lessons from his food tech through to music tech, and he has personalised learning which is tailored to the individual learners needs. He finally has access to services such as speech and language and occupational therapy within the school who can assess and provide support without having to join a lengthy waiting list!
To sum it up, we know that without Quest Kieran would probably have been permanently excluded from school and would be an extremely unhappy and angry young man but thanks to Quest he has:
‘Hope, Happiness and a Future’