A Mother’s Perspective: If I Had a Crystal Ball

We are very proud of one of our students, Shaan, who – with the support of WorkFit, has been employed at the Odeon Cinema in Maidstone. We asked his mother if she would write an article reflecting on his journey at Milestone, and how he has achieved this remarkable next step in his career.

A Mother’s Perspective: If I Had a Crystal Ball? (Jas Notay, Milestone Academy Parent)

It’s been over 14 years now, that my son Shaan has been with Milestone Academy (now currently at Milestone@Wilmington) and I can recall my early thoughts and his early years at Milestone’s nursery – then Woodview Nursery, when he was only 3.5 years old. Back in those days (as they say!) the school of thought was and still is, children with Down Syndrome really ought to be in a mainstream setting and with peers of the same age. As Shaan’s mum I was in conflict with my personal thoughts of feeling he should be in a special school, so that his needs were I felt better met for his particular individual needs, against the other view that he should really perhaps be in a mainstream school setting. Shaan was fortunate because he was both in a mainstream nursery on my working days and special needs nursery (Woodview) on my non-working days.
I was so worried initially that I was somehow personally letting him down by sending him to a special needs school and would this be holding him back? How wrong I was looking back now! In his school he got all the right support for example speech and language total communication and OT support, as well as teachers who know how to support a child/young person with Down’s Syndrome. I need not have worried at all. Why? Because Milestone has provided all the right ingredients to support his education from nursery level right through to moving from Milestone Academy, then onto Milestone@TheLeigh and then onto Milestone@Wilmington. I recall when Kyle Marsh first suggested Shaan was ready to move to Milestone@TheLeigh back in Year 10 and I was apprehensive about the transition Shaan would have to make and would he cope?
However, the time he spent with Kyle was amazing and really developed his independence skills but still in a very safe environment. Shaan then moved onto Milestone@Wilmington where he continues to thrive and is now in his final Year 14. What a great year this has been for Shaan. If I had had a crystal ball back then, did I ever imagine I would one day cry tears of joy on his achievements? He has surpassed all expectations and this is down to his own efforts, but achieved through being given the right tools and guidance to support him to achieve his goals.
So what is this achievement? Well, he has always wanted to work as a Cinema Host and now currently works part time for ODEON Cinema in Maidstone, Kent. He loves his job and is always so keen to go to work and his confidence (not that he lacked any) has gone from strength to strength.

So when as parents you may have that feeling what does the future hold for our children/young people? Please remember: there is hope out there for our young people, given the right employment support and guidance and tools to cope with the world of work. Shaan doing a part time job has transformed both his life and our lives as a family, as he has become a wonderful ambassador for those with Down’s Syndrome and his fellow peers, as to the possibilities out there that they can achieve!

I know each child/young person is different and has different SEN so this may not be possible for all (I do fully respect that when writing this article) but if I had known then what I know now, I may not have needed to worry as much as I did for all those early years.

I would therefore like to share this wonderful link that shows Shaan at work at ODEON and how he has developed into a great young man through support from his school, his therapy team, ODEON’s fantastic support as his employer and the Down’s Syndrome Association Workfit programme.  I hope you find the video inspiring as we do!