Young people

Young people

Welcome to the dedicated zone for young people.

Want to know how other young disabled people have tackled becoming an adult? You’re in the right place. In this zone, you will find advice from young disabled people, written in their own words, as well as guidance from experts.

Scott talking about the transition process

Navigating transition, my account.

In this video, Scott talks about his experiences of navigating transition – what was tricky, what …

Navigating transition, my account.

Scott talking about the transition process

In this video, Scott talks about his experiences of navigating transition – what was tricky, what worked and what he’s doing now.

Career advice for your job hunting journey

Eva Harrison from Career Seekers Direct, shares some advice for job seekers.

Career advice for your job hunting journey

Eva Harrison from Career Seekers Direct, shares some advice for job seekers.

Check out her video below for hints and tips on writing a killer CV and getting the best out of an interview.

AG at work at premier inn

Case study – student, AG and the Premier Inn app

Case study from Derwen College student AG on how the Premier Inn app enabled him to overcome barrier…

Case study – student, AG and the Premier Inn app

AG at work at premier inn

Former Derwen College student, AG learnt housekeeping skills at the College’s Hotel 751 training hotel, before progressing to work placements and eventually paid work at Oswestry Premier Inn.

The Premier Inn app has been an important factor in that journey to employment.

Hospitality and Housekeeping student, AG was a day student who began work placements at the College’s Orangery Restaurant, College Food Centre, the local Station Café (which is run by Derwen College) and training hotel, Hotel 751.

The Premier Inn app

AG, who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder and learning difficulties was one of the first students to use the Premier Inn housekeeping app to support his work placement in the College training hotel. With some initial support, AG quickly became used to using the app to guide him through the housekeeping routine required to turn over a room to Premier Inn standards.

He was happy to follow the colour-coded ‘routes’ for each separate task, and preferred to use the video option which demonstrated each job through short films with voiceover; other options include Makaton signs and words with pictures as reminders of the routine.

Growing in confidence

We saw AG’s confidence grow as he became more familiar with the routine, he needed minimal teacher support. He was able to secure a weekly work placement at the local Premier Inn Hotel, using the app as a back-up.

During College Open Days, AG would be the first to volunteer to demonstrate to visitors how the app worked, and how efficiently he could make a bed or clean a bathroom. We saw AG blossom from the anxious student looking for teacher reassurance into a young man who could explain his housekeeping role to an audience of parents, businesspeople or guests.

When AG finished at Derwen College in July 2019, he was delighted to be offered paid employment at Premier Inn, Oswestry, close to his home. He asked for the app to be transferred to his personal mobile phone so that he always had a ‘safety net’ if he was feeling anxious or uncertain.

AG works three four-hour shifts a week and relishes his work.

AG says:

“I like my job. Everyone is really nice and helpful and they chat to me. Guests say ‘Good Morning’ and I say ‘Good Morning’ back.

“I use the app on my phone.

“The app has helped me a lot to get things in the right order. Sometimes I do forget things and I can use the app for a prompt.

“I like using the videos. It means I can work independently without support. I can work pretty much on my own now. Although other staff are always interested in the app.

“It’s really good to have a job with money!”

AG’s mum says:

“AG was excited to be able to start work at Premier Inn immediately after leaving Derwen College. He finished college on the Friday and started his first paid shift immediately the next Monday. Support from Derwen College and the team at Premier Inn has enabled him to find a job that he loves.

“The app has given him the confidence to get on with this day-to-day work with minimal extra support. He loves to be independent and the app means he can check his own work without feeling he’s making mistakes or needing help. It is very important to him to be independent. He can be like any other member of staff at Premier Inn, and is a genuine part of the team which has raised his self-esteem. He can’t wait to join the team for the Christmas party!”

AG’s new-found confidence and independence skills are also enabling him to move out of his parents’ home into supported living. He is moving into a house with three other young people in early 2020.

We believe that for AG, the Premier Inn app enabled him to overcome barriers to achieve paid employment and independent living. The hospitality and housekeeping team were as proud as he was, when he sent them a photograph of himself holding his first ever pay cheque!

AG showing off his very first paycheck
Driving lesson

Can I learn to drive if I have a disability?

Having a disability doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t drive. Motability share their tips o…

Can I learn to drive if I have a disability?

Driving lesson

Having a disability doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t drive – there are various modifications that can be designed to help make your driving, or travelling experience as comfortable as possible, depending on your needs.

If you are disabled and want to learn how to drive, you might find this article useful.

Get a provisional licence

First off, you should apply for your provisional driving licence. The earliest you can submit an application is three months prior to your sixteenth birthday. You can get the form needed to do this — called a D1 — from any large Post Office, or you can download it online from the government’s website.

Once you have sent this off, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will often send back to you a ‘medical-in-confidence’ form which will ask for further information about your disability. It is also likely that the DVLA will ask for your permission to contact your doctor, but this is totally normal! After this, they will review your application and will usually issue your provisional license. In some circumstances, the DVLA might ask you to see its own specialist or another doctor close to you to make sure your licence is suitable.

Take a theory test

Anybody learning to drive needs to take a theory test. This is a test you do that doesn’t involve sitting in the car at all, but instead shows you know the theoretical rules of driving. You may want to take this assessment before beginning practical lessons, as there is a possibility, with some cases, that you find it isn’t possible to drive once you begin lessons. If you suffer from deafness or hearing problems, you can get a DVD about learning the Highway Code with sign language. There are similar products available to assist with the theory test, too.

Find a driving instructor

You may find it useful to find specialist driving instructor

Once the theory test is out of the way, it is time to find a driving instructor. While your local area may be full of instructors, if you’re learning to drive with a disability, you may find it beneficial to seek out the extra knowledge that a specialist tutor brings to the table. Driving Mobility (previously known as Forum of Mobility Centres) is a good place to start as Driving Assessors, at most Centres, will be able to assess your needs and recommend solutions for you. This involves them assessing your needs first, and then teaching you to drive, sometimes in specially adapted vehicles. They can also help you with the theory and hazard perception tests.

Most students need around 40 hours of driving tuition to be able to pass their test, so you will spend a lot of time with your tutor — this is why it is important to pick an instructor you feel you will get along with!

Take the test

In 2017, the government implemented changes to the way that driving tests are carried out in the UK. Nowadays, actual driving time is around 20 minutes, and some traditional manoeuvres – for instance, reversing around a corner – will be replaced by more ‘real-world’ trials, such as reversing into a parking bay.

Help with the cost of driving lessons

If you are an existing Motability Scheme customer, some grant funding may be available from Motability, the charity, to help those learning to drive with a disability. You can find out more about Motability grants here.

Learning to drive is an important milestone in our lives. Think about your requirements, study and practice hard, and you could be on your way to driving in no time!

What if I can’t drive? 

Did you know that the you don’t have to drive in order to lease a car through the Motability Scheme? Lots of our customers don’t drive. That’s why the insurance with your lease is for up to three named drivers, so your car could be driven by a family member, friend or carer. 

Am I eligible for the Scheme?

The Motability Scheme offers an all-inclusive package that allows anyone in receipt of higher rate mobility allowances (such as the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance) to use their mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. The Scheme provides flexible and hassle-free access to a brand new, reliable vehicle of your choice – giving you greater freedom, everyday.

Find out if you’re eligible to join the Scheme

If you are not a Motability Scheme customer and are interested in finding out more about the Scheme, you can request an information pack for more information. Request Scheme information


Originally posted by Motability on January 2020 on https://news.motability.co.uk/everyday-tips/can-i-learn-to-drive-if-i-have-a-disability/

Katie Callaghan meets Prince William

Katie Callaghan: My education journey

18 year old Katie had to juggle education and hospital for a number of years, here she shares her ed…

Katie Callaghan: My education journey

Katie Callaghan meets Prince William

18 year old Katie has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome with multiple comorbidities. She had to juggle education with hospital for a number of years and has gone on to further education.

Here, she talks about her education journey and shares advice for other young people who may be in a similar situation.

Aoife Cassan

Autism is part of who I am

Aoife Casson shares her personal journey from struggling to receive a diagnosis, to learning how to …

Autism is part of who I am

Aoife Cassan

Starting school, securing your first job, and accepting who you are present a challenge for most people.

Here, Aoife Casson shares her personal journey from struggling to receive a diagnosis, to learning how to accept that her autism is part of her unique identity.

Early life

Growing up, I had a lot of trouble making friends. I was bullied a lot and people called me weird, but in my eyes, they were the weird ones! Why would you want to play make-believe and dress up when you could watch a bit of David Attenborough and line your toys up in size order? It never made sense to me.

As I got older, the ‘weird’ label hung around and the bullying persisted. I was made to feel like I was involved with the banter, but somehow, I was always the subject of their jokes. I tried to fit in the only way I knew how – by mimicking their behaviours. I started wearing jeans even though I hate denim and I made the same jokes as they did. But for some reason, I always messed up. They’d say: ‘Oh my god, how can you do that?!’ ‘Do what?’, I would respond. ‘You know what we mean!’, they would shout back.

I didn’t.

It was a running joke in my year that I was terrible at spelling. I couldn’t do sports to save my life and I was a lost cause at languages. Even in subjects where I excelled (like maths), I was put in a lower set as I couldn’t keep up with the writing.

By the time I was doing my GCSEs and A-Levels, I’d been diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia, and dysgraphia. Mrs Green, my learning support teacher, was an absolute gem. My weekly half-hour session with her was a safe space where I could unload what was on my mind without judgement. She taught me valuable skills like time management and organisation, but in a way that made sense to me. She also fought tirelessly to get me the support and extra time I needed in my exams. Thanks to her, I was able to get the grades I deserved.

Learning how to be happy

When I was 18, I tried to get myself diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. For a long time, Mum and I thought this is what I had. Despite the doctors at the Maudsley acknowledging that I had difficulty communicating, they diagnosed me with Atypical Autism based on what I had told them. They even went on to explain that had they gone entirely off what my mum had told them, they would have diagnosed me with Asperger’s. I was gutted. I didn’t have the confidence at the time to say they were wrong, and I was never able to get through to them via email after that day. The following years were filled with confusion, anxiety, and overwhelm. However, with the incredible support from my University friends, I learned how to be happy. How to be me. I learned my triggers and my social limits. I learned to recognise when my ‘cope’o’meter’ was maxing out. I didn’t enjoy those years, but it’s thanks to them that I’m so happy and confident now.

During my illustration degree, I realised I wanted to be a travel writer. I’d written a few blogs for my University while spending a semester studying abroad in Japan and they were received really well.

And that’s when I had a lightbulb moment.

I wasn’t terrible at writing, I just struggled with essays. I wasn’t a failure at languages, I just needed to find a language that I loved and a learning style that was right for me. It all made sense! I was destined to be a travel writer and live in Japan. I knew it would take a while to get to that point so I started applying for jobs in the UK that would help me get there.

The world of work

I remember applying for a content writer job at a recipe box company. I got down to the final interview when I accidentally let slip that I was dyslexic. Despite having done several grammatically perfect writing tasks, I was turned down because I was “lacking in confidence with spelling and grammar”. I knew it was just their way of saying “we don’t want a dyslexic person here” – I was so upset. I didn’t mind losing the job, but the fact that they turned me down based on a misconception that wasn’t an accurate depiction of me really hurt. How could they not look past all that and see that my writing was great?

Four months later, I was offered a 12-week temp job at Alzheimer’s Research UK. On day one of my new job, I was determined to be open about my Asperger’s and learning difficulties. I was prepared to defend myself until I was blue in the face. But I didn’t need to. When I told my manager that I had Asperger’s she said: ‘Thank you for sharing that with me, is there anything I can do to better support you?’. She then encouraged me to write a blog for the intranet to educate people about ASD and I jumped at the opportunity. Again, I expected to be met with judgement and awkward silences. Instead, I was bombarded with love and acceptance.

A year and a half later and I’m still working at Alzheimer’s Research UK. They allowed me to work four days a week instead of five so that I don’t get too tired every week. The most wonderful thing is that my Asperger’s isn’t seen as a hindrance by my colleagues, but part of what makes me who I am. The people I work with appreciate my unique point of view and know they can come back to me for honest and measured feedback. I still find a lot of things difficult and draining, but I feel so supported in everything I do. And the crazy thing? In my last progress review, my team said that my top two skills were empathy and content writing, the two things I’ve struggled with for most of my life! Who’d have thought?

In my free time, I make crafts and sell them in my Etsy shop. In pre-COVID times, I would often have a stand at my local Christmas Market, and I’m now part of a community of makers. I’m still learning Japanese at my own pace and I am absolutely loving it. Most importantly, I have a wonderful group of friends who love me for who I am.

Aoife’s tips for young people with autism

So what advice would I give to my unhappy and confused teenage self?

  1. Being weird is wonderful and the people who can’t see that don’t deserve you in their lives.
  2. Follow what you love! And don’t listen to anyone who says your disability means you can’t. They just lack creativity.
  3. It’s ok to move at your own pace. The plants that take the longest to grow end up being the biggest and most beautiful trees in the forest.
  4. Go your own way. So many things we take for granted today didn’t even exist ten years ago. Just because something isn’t possible today, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it tomorrow.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. You were born different. While that may make some things more challenging, it will also make you more creative, interesting, and accepting of others.

Aoife’s recommended social media accounts to follow: 

derwen college student gives thumbs up

A view of a specialist day and residential college

Are you considering a specialist college, either as a day student or as a resident? Take a look arou…

A view of a specialist day and residential college

derwen college student gives thumbs up

Are you considering a specialist college, either as a day student or as a resident? Want to know more about what it’s like? Take a look around Derwen College, who have given us a sneak peek inside their facilities.

This video shows you what a specialist college looks like and what it might be like when you get there. You can also see what sort of support team a typical specialist college has to help you.

Volunteering to work – a young person’s experience

Tom is a retail student at Derwen College. In this short video, we hear from Tom first hand about hi…

Volunteering to work – a young person’s experience

Quality, meaningful work experience placements bring multiple benefits to any young person.

Tom is a retail student at Derwen College. In this short video, we hear from Tom first hand about his volunteering for work experience at a local Spar.