Two alumni of Overmonnow’s Special Needs Unit exceeded all expectations to obtain a GCSE in Mathematics
Two former students of the Overmonnow Special Needs Unit (SNU) exceeded all expectations to achieve a Level 2 math GCSE at the age of 18.
But the journey to get there was not easy
Pyrs Mainwairing-Smith and Amy Peters were both diagnosed with autism at an early age. “Prys was actually written off by a Nevill Hall consultant when he was three,” his mother Ceris told the Beacon. “He was diagnosed with very severe autism and was told he would not speak and wear diapers for the rest of his life and by his 13th birthday he would be institutionalized.”
“I couldn’t stand it,” she said, “he was smeared with poo and made no eye contact, but at the age of eight he got out of his diapers and started talking. and hasn’t been silent since! ” she added.
Ceris later realized he understood from a young age when he remembered things from the age of four and when she said to him “but you couldn’t speak” he would say “but I knew. what was happening !”
The turnaround came after Ceris went through the American autistic “Son-rise” program where they would sit together in an empty room and when he started to constantly nod, she too “and I remember after that. three weeks he looked at me for the first time, “she said.
Amy and Pyrs started at SNU (now Class 9) in 2006, when they were both five and spent seven. In 2011, moms Ceris and Caroline had the difficult decision of where to send them next. Both Chepstow and Caldicot schools had units where students with learning disabilities like Prys and Amy could attend.
However, these were not schools with a specialized level of disability and to find the right learning environment for their children they chose Crownbridge School in Torfaen where “they go to great lengths in different areas of autism , which wouldn’t happen if they went to a regular school, ”Ceris explained.
Amy’s mother Caroline, a former police officer, added: “Considering the size of Monmouthshire and the dynamics and the tax you pay, for education we are one of the worst areas which I would say in South Wales, “said” It’s incredibly competitive to get a funded place in Torfaen.
“It is a mistake that we do not have this local disposition and we not only have to fight for the individual needs of an inclusive education of your child, but you also have to take horrible trips to pay for this education and that does not. can’t be fair, ”Caroline added.
“These two have done such amazing things that no other kid with their conditions has ever done and it’s all due to the school pushing them,” Ceris said.
Their teacher at Crownbridge School, Ms Jess Coombs, said they have both shown the utmost determination to reach GCSE Level 2 this year. “Due to covid, there have been a lot of changes at school, but both students continued to be excited to learn. Due to their autism, Pyrs and Amy had to overcome challenges throughout. completing the entry level course that neurotypical students take for granted. They had to sit tests under exam conditions, which they have not experienced before as they are usually able to apply staff support and have no time constraints to complete an activity ”
Pyrs has now passed his driving theory test and takes his exam in January and he got a gold medal in his Duke of Edinburgh award.
Both start at the Redzone Learning Center at Coleg Gwent in Cwmbran; four days a week at university and one day of work experience.
Pyrs said: “We have to take a course in Independent Living Skills (ILS) but we are too capable for it,” he added with a smile. “The good thing is that we are having a work experience which is a brilliant thing and another useful thing, I am learning to use an iron!”
The course identifies the pathways that would lead them to future jobs and they go out into the community and do different things.
Amy has a special baking skill and is currently helping out at the Humble by Nature Center in the Edible Garden.
Pyrs wants to be a policeman like his father, the late Jeff Smith, who was Mayor of Monmouth and Police Sergeant who died in 2002. Pyrs is looking for work experience in the hospitality industry, contact Ceris on [email protected]
“I have sensory issues,” Pyrs said, “it’s the only autistic trait I have left”
Ceris remembers the first week of Pyrs’ life. “I had a girl in girls’ school who was doing fine, and then all of a sudden your world comes to an end.
“You want your daughter to become a doctor, then you face the fact that your son may never even be able to be a man. When that happened, I mourned the son that I lost, for about a week, then I totally fell for it!
“He calls himself a 1950s teenager because of his wonderful manners and all the help he does around the house: emptying the dishwasher, cooking, cleaning, bathing. The only thing he does. he can’t do is ironing and i said college that.
Pyrs is looking for professional experience in the hospitality industry and if anyone in Monmouth can see Pyrs’ potential while reading this article, contact Ceris at [email protected]