Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group Workfit officer Jenny Williams was delighted in July when her 17 year son Callum achieved three GCSEs, a BTEC level 2 in Home cooking skills and a BTEC level 1 in the arts, but earlier in the year she was worried about his future when she visited Crowdys Hill Special School to discuss 6th form courses.
She said: “We originally were looking at a mainstream college as Callum has been in mainstream education all his life. But it was clear that the difference between Callum and typically developed boys of 16 was greater than I had anticipated and I feared that he would get lost in the system.
“At Crowdy’s we immediately knew it was the place where Callum would continue to grow and develop life skills that he wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
Callum commented “I like Crowdys. It’s a very good place to go for people with disabilities. They have two flats being built and I’m looking forward to staying in one of them.
“I love functional skills because we talk about food a lot and we will be learning how to cook tea. I really want to do performing arts and hospitality so I can go to Foxes Academy then I can be a Butlins Redcoat. “
Jenny added: “As a mum I hadn’t realised just how much I had worried about Callum beginning this next chapter until the bus arrived outside our house for the first time. All of a sudden my throat tightened and I felt a huge pang of emotion and a tear trickling down my face that I just couldn’t control. Suddenly my little boy wasn’t so little anymore.
“We’ve had high expectations for Callum, as we have for our other children, but there is always the fear of the unknown, that you can never be exactly sure what the future holds. But I know that he will be ok.
“My advice to other parents/carers/siblings is let them lead you. Keep an open mind and when talking about their future never say no you can’t or you won’t be able do that. Callum wants to be a Redcoat. He would be the first and absolutely there will be challenges along the way. But my view would be ‘what can we do to make that happen.’
“As difficult as it is to let them go with guidance and a support network, we need to consider it is their decisions to make – even if that means letting them make mistakes – and it’s their future to aspire to.”