Autistic young people developing their IT and communication skills thanks to London Freemasons grant

Autistic young people and their families are benefiting from assistive technology and support at Ambitious College, helping them develop their IT and communication

London Freemasons generously granted Ambitious about Autism £60,000 for the project, which is supporting 90 autistic learners at Ambitious College, a specialist
college for young people aged 16-25.

In April last year, the college appointed Alysia Martindale to a new Assistive Technologist role, to help improve autistic young people’s access to learning,
independence and participation through technology.

Since joining, Alysia has been using her specialist knowledge in assistive technology to support autistic young people across the college, working in partnership
with teaching and support staff.

Already young people are benefiting from the extra support and assistance, including 23-year-old
Zubair, who attends Ambitious College’s North London campus and is non-verbal.

Thanks to Alysia’s support and additional equipment including a keyboard, he is making huge progress with his IT skills.

His teacher Fiona Linwood, said: “Zubair has always been a very keen and enthusiastic learner but when he joined us he didn’t use any form of communication. We gradually helped
him use symbols and communicate simply through an electronic device.

“Now thanks to Alysia’s support his IT and communication skills have increased massively. He now uses a keyboard alongside his communications device to create emails, using
software that helps him to independently check spellings and create full sentences.”

The team at Ambitious College work in partnership with families and carers, so they can also understand the technology, learn how to fix problems and to support
their child to use it at home.

Alysia said: “Assistive technology brings huge benefits to young people’s learning and wellbeing. It can help young people easily communicate their needs – such
as when they might be feeling hungry or unwell. Knowing this, teaching and support staff can put in place the right support for the young person’s wellbeing and better understand and plan for any potential barriers to learning.”

Zubair’s mum Sameena added: “Zubair has always been keen to communicate his needs to us and this scheme has provided him with an incredible opportunity to communicate independently
thanks to the support of his dedicated IT teacher Alysia. He is now able to type out certain sentences on his own and can also communicate his wants and needs when using the keyboard at home.

“We are so proud of all the hard work that the staff at Ambitious College and Zubair have put in to help develop his communication skills. Zubair couldn’t have received this
level of innovative support from any other placement and we are deeply grateful to Ambitious College for always providing him with the highest level of education and support to fulfil his potential as a young autistic adult.”

Paul King from London Freemasons, said: “I’m delighted our £60,000 grant is being put to such good use. To be able to help a young person communicate in a way that was previously
impossible is a tremendous achievement and can be life-changing for those who are benefitting.”

Ambitious College
is a specialist autism day college in London. It is run by Ambitious about Autism and has two campuses based in Tottenham and Isleworth.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the London Freemasons supported Ambitious about Autism to provide technologies to enable young people to learn both at college and through distance learning at home.

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