Austin's story

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A letter of thanks from GANF parents, Jaime and Lee Harrison.Austin

This is Austin’s story...

“Our son Austin’s story started thousands of miles away from Grantham. Before we moved to the town 18 months ago he attended several schools in Oregon in the United States. Back then the only option for him was a special needs unit within a mainstream school, where students take some or all of their lessons with a one-to-one aide. None of the three schools we tried in Oregon worked out for him.  

Austin has autism and Tourette Syndrome. He has struggled with shaking, loud vocal outbursts and body tics every few seconds for years. Life was tough and he was unhappy at school in the states which, in our opinion, offered him a very limited education. For Austin sports meant walking round in a circle for 45 minutes; Maths was colour-by-numbers on a computer and his books were old and out-dated. In short, we felt Austin was contained in the Oregon education system rather than taught by it. 

A new start

Austin was 13 when we arrived in England in November 2013 and once the paperwork and statement was transferred we came to GANF to meet the staff. He was offered a place at Ambergate at the beginning of January 2014.

Austin has been at GANF for 18 months now and we have asked him how he feels.

“It feels like home,” he told us.

It’s clear that he loves his new school, but what was so different? “I learn lots of subjects,” was his simple answer. For a boy who struggles to express himself, these were two life changing statements for us to hear as a family. The change we’ve seen in him has been extraordinary.

The difference we have seen between our life here in Grantham and back in the states is very clear. Austin went to an American school until he was 13 but made little if any progress with his education. He didn't start learning until teachers at GANF gave him his first taste of a real education tailored for his specific needs. He has a real enthusiasm for learning - something he never showed in the US - and comes home every day sharing his successes.

There has been another happy side-effect to the care he has received at Ambergate, his tics have reduced dramatically. In fact you could say Austin is a different boy and we are so grateful for all the opportunities he now has, to make the very best of his life.”