As with many of the children who come to Romsey Mill playgroup, Sam looks forward to his play sessions and is a very happy and affectionate little boy. Sam also has autism, a condition which is thought to affect a staggering 1 in 88 children, and was diagnosed when he was 2 ½ years old.
Sam first started playgroup in September 2011 and although he has always been affectionate, it often took a lot of encouragement for Sam to engage with activities and his surroundings. He did not look at the adults/leaders working with him and would only be able to concentrate on an activity for maybe 1 or 2 minutes. He often had to be held, as he would not sit independently at a table for an activity or on the carpet for stories and songs.
Sam has always had a one-to-one worker at the playgroup and from September 2012, this support worker has been Rebekah Overton, who has seen amazing changes take place with Sam. The one-to-one attention that Sam has had from Rebekah and the supportive, caring and stimulating environment encouraged by the whole playgroup team, has been a significant factor in the recent progress that Sam has made. He can now look at Rebekah and engage with her and other adults. He can now sit down independently at singing and story time and does not always need to be reminded, as he is often there ready (something that many of the other children struggle with). His concentration span has increased incredibly. He can now stay engaged with an activity for up to 15 minutes at a time.
Sam loves actions and singing and has responded well to simple Maketon sign language. He loves to take Rebekah’s hands and to move them to actions/signs that he knows so well but cannot always express independently. He does not speak but Rebekah is encouraging him to make and repeat sounds. He now understands simple words and instructions, and communicates in a way that was not coming through when he first started playgroup.
Rebekah says, “I have been so excited to see the progress Sam has made in engaging with activities and communicating with me…the best thing is to see how happy he is coming into playgroup and what an affectionate little boy he is”.
Sam’s mum agrees that “the progress Sam has made during his time at Romsey Mill has been marvellous. He thoroughly enjoys his time there and never wants to come home! He clearly adores Rebekah and she has done a fantastic job of understanding his condition and anticipating his needs. Romsey Mill has been an excellent start to Sam’s formal education”.
Sam is in a place where his needs are met and he can thrive, achieve and grow in confidence and skills.