The National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Sybil Elgar School in Southall received a visit from the Mayor of Ealing last week to help students celebrate achieving their ASDAN life skills awards, GCSEs and BTECs.

Cllr Dr Patricia Walker handed out awards to 13 students who completed the ASDAN Transition Challenge. This is a nationally recognised scheme focused on developing children’s life skills and independence and helping them transition to further education or leaving school.

The Mayor also recognised three students’ GCSE success and four others who achieved Level 1 BTEC in Home Cookery.  

Around 40 people attended, including parents and staff. The students were very proud after working hard over the past year or more to achieve the ASDAN Award – challenging themselves to do things that many others take for granted such as going to the shops/museums independently, managing money, growing plants and cooking.

The NAS Sybil Elgar School, which just marked its 50th anniversary, was the first autism-specific school in the UK.

It caters for up to 73 children and young people on the autism spectrum, aged 4-19, and provides a residential and boarding service. It is rated as a ‘Good’ school by Ofsted.

More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 120,000 school-aged children in England.

This means that someone sees, hears and feels the world in a different, often more intense, way to other people and may find social situations difficult.

But if affects each person differently. Some children are able to excel in mainstream schools while others require extensive support in specialist settings, such as the NAS Sybil Elgar School.

Sue and Neil, parents of Conor who is 15 years-old, said: "We're grateful to the whole team at Sybil Elgar for the wonderful presentation event and for all the work they've done with the children over the past year.

"The content of our son’s work folder was staggering in its quality, quantity, diversity and fun. It shows what an amazing job the team do, how passionate they are and how they care for our children."

Chloe Phillips, Principal of the National Autistic Society's Sybil Elgar School, said: “Everyone at our school is delighted for the students and so proud of what they’ve achieved.

“It was wonderful to see so many people turn out to mark this special day – not least the Mayor of Ealing who has been so supportive of our school.

“Many of our students are very bright but can struggle with everyday life skills that others take for granted – things like knowing how to get the bus, manage money or order food at a restaurant.

“The ASDAN qualification helps students to develop these essential living skills and is a key part of our work preparing them for the next stage of their life – whether that’s further education, work or living as independently as possible.

“Autism can have a profound impact on an individual and their family, but we see every day how the right support helps every student to fulfil their potential.”