A student with autism has been nominated for a prestigious national accolade at the 2017 Autism Professional Awards.
Lucy King, 17, has been put forward by her school LVS Hassocks in Sayers Common for the Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum category due to her work inspiring other young people as a mentor at an autism group.
Lucy, who is Head Girl at LVS Hassocks for children aged eight to 19 with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, was inspired by the nurturing support from school and chose to pursue a leadership role to help others with the same condition. Despite her autism, and balancing school and studies for exams (Lucy passed three GCSEs last summer), she has become a valued staff member at registered charity CASPA (Children on the Autistic Spectrum Parents Association) Bromley, helping run several sessions each week.
In 2015 Lucy performed at the national Autism’s Got Talent show in London with the school’s Hassocks Allstars Blues Band, and uses her performing experience in an additional role as a student teacher on Saturdays at Star Dance Academy. Whilst this is not ASD specific, she hopes her presence will make it easier for children with autism to join the group, and also hopes it will serve as an example to other learners with autism at LVS Hassocks that they have an opportunity to be a really valuable asset to autism groups and local groups that have autistic children in them that could benefit from their experience.
She said: “I enjoy the responsibility of helping younger people with autism, as I can pass on my knowledge and experiences having grown up with it. I like seeing them enjoy themselves and achieve things, and take a lot of pride in being able to help with their learning experience because of my knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Lucy has found working for CASPA extremely rewarding and wants to use her experience to help further within autism education. Last year she began student mentoring in cooking classes at LVS Hassocks, requesting adjustments to her timetable so she could help support younger learners in lessons, keeping them focused, and assisting less able learners with autism to prepare ingredients, cook and wash up. Corinne Gould from LVS Hassocks says that Lucy is ‘absolutely brilliant’ in the role she has created there as she is trusted by all the learners who feel comfortable with her as they know that she is one of them.
As an ambassador for the school she represented LVS Hassocks alongside students from sister school LVS Oxford, also for children with autism, at the Patron’s Lunch on The Mall last year to celebrate The Queen’s patronage of the schools and her 90th birthday.
With one of LVS Hassocks’ goals being to give students the skills they need to live independently as adults, and provide work experience that will boost their career prospects, encouraging Lucy’s input to such roles will only strengthen her future opportunities.
Director of SEN at LVS Hassocks Sarah Sherwood said: “Lucy is an inspiration to all of our students with the way she has developed throughout her time at the school, and we were delighted to nominate her as recognition for the work she does to help children who are experiencing similar things to what she has been through.
“Her desire and ability to successfully work with CASPA Bromley is amazing alongside her studies for exams she is sitting here at LVS Hassocks and other co-curricular activities that she enjoys here. Lucy should be very proud of her achievements.”
Lucy was a CASPA Bromley member herself, but when it became clear she had a natural flair for working with young children this morphed into a volunteer role in 2012, and since then she has worked with juniors (aged four to eight), inters (eight to 14) and seniors (14+) regularly on Friday nights, Sunday afternoons and holiday clubs involving games, crafts, sensory activities and life skills. Lucy is now a paid member of staff at CASPA such has been her impact there as a young role model who the children can identify with. There are over 100 children in the groups she helps run so her impact is wide.
Since January 2014 Lucy has also worked on a one-to-one basis with a senior CASPA member, enhancing his life skills, socialisation and verbalisation by building up a relationship of trust with him.
She has also attended week-long CASPA residential trips as a volunteer, helping to ensure they have the required staff numbers to go ahead on a tight budget so the children are able to enjoy the types of opportunity that Lucy herself has experienced at LVS Hassocks which have included residential trips to Cornwall and sailing holidays with her class mates.
A shortlist for the award will be announced later this month, with the award ceremony taking place on March 7.
Contributed by LVS Hassocks
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