When Tom joined the William Henry Smith School in March 2009 he had significant difficulties, a diagnosis of ASD and a fascination with aggression and violence. He had been excluded from his previous school and home tutoring had also failed.
From his very first day at our school Tom was unwilling to communicate with anybody and he used to head immediately to the corner of the room and face the wall in silence. This was Tom's way of expressing his feelings and this lasted for many weeks.
Staff adapted their working styles and practices to meet Tom's specific needs and tried to get him to engage in daily routines and conversations. Tom would flatly refuse to eat, talk, attend class, wear socks or have his photo taken, he also displayed aggression and violence towards his peers and staff - his difficulties were complex and significant. After some time, staff slowly started to make progress with Tom and he eventually became more comfortable in his surroundings at the school and began to break out of his shell. Over the next few years, and to his own amazement, Tom started to see his magnificent personality develop and his confidence just grew and grew.
He overcame significant anxieties and this included his fear of being within large groups of people. He has gone one step beyond this and not only attends all whole school events such as Sports Day and the Swimming Gala, he feels comfortable enough to participate! Tom has continued to push himself and has made consistent and remarkable progress. He has developed a healthy sense of humour and has turned out to be an incredible young man who is excelling at every opportunity. Tom is now seen as an Ambassador for the school and he can always be relied upon to set the right example to his peers. He shows visitors around the school adding some very interesting facts in his detailing of events and life here. He has found a way of expressing himself through acting and now loves to be the centre of attention, frequently performing during assemblies and whole school cabarets and even leading a drama performance in front of 200 people! Tom is a fantastic young man and a great example of what can be achieved.
(Tom's Key Worker)
When Josh came to the William Henry Smith School in 2009 other schools in his local area had refused to take him and difficulties at home had been escalating. He had a diagnosis of ADHD, ASD and Dyslexia and had significant behavioural, emotional and learning difficulties.
Josh arrived at our school as quite an angelic young man and initial feedback from staff was described as "a pleasure to have in school", "doing everything that is asked", and "Josh seems a good lad". It was felt that, due to his excellent start at school, Josh must be having a honeymoon period, but little did the staff know that it was to be the longest honeymoon ever recorded!
Josh just went from strength to strength, coping with the changes a new school brought and he swiftly achieved success on a regular basis.
In 2010 Josh continued to do well although he still had a difficulty of socialising with others and a lack of empathy towards others. Josh spent some time working with a therapist and worked extremely hard at understanding why it was important to do things for others and have a sense of what others were feeling too. This was the start of greater progress both at home and within school.
Josh continued to be rewarded and in 2011 and 2012 he proudly achieved Student of the Year status in both Education and Social aspects of school. Josh was also chosen to take part in an overseas trip to Switzerland in 2011 which he thoroughly enjoyed and his behaviour and attitude was first class.
Josh consistently progressed through the school's social progress ladder attaining the highest level of Platinum in December 2012 due to his continued effort, excellent behaviour and support of others, both in school and within the wider community. He has raised money for local charities by completing the Huddersfield Hilly Half Marathon and a Santa Dash. He successfully achieved Silver award for Personal Achievement at the National Engage Awards in 2012.
Josh has pushed himself to expand his own independence and life skills. This has given him more confidence in himself to explore the surrounding areas away from the safety of the school and he joined a local gym and travelled there independently. Josh then later learned to travel home independently (a 4 hour journey) by train and bus. His most recent travels, however, have taken him a lot further afield! After being part of a selection process for the Highest Classroom on Earth Josh was chosen to take part in a very challenging expedition to the Everest Base camp. After raising around £800 from sponsorship through friends, family and neighbours Josh began the journey with a member of staff. Through sheer determination, commitment and effort Josh completed the gruelling two week challenge (only 4 out of 12 students made it to the end).
For a young boy with ADHD and ASD to turn his life around in this way is a credit to both him and those who have supported him. Josh is now determined to succeed and to do the best in life that he possibly can.
(Josh's first Key Worker)