About Us Our Impact How we make a difference Gaining confidence in a real-world setting “I’m so proud of what our daughter has achieved. We have seen an increase in Emma’s confidence and we’re happy she’s integrating into the local community", says mum Barbara Smith. Thornbeck College provides personalised study programmes for 16-25 year olds with autism, learning difficulties and disabilities, with programmes focused on equipping learners with the skills that they need for living and work. The college works in partnership with local businesses to give learners the opportunity to practice and develop work-related skills in a range of supported and open employment projects. Emma is currently on a placement at Newton Aycliffe Youth Centre, Toddler Group where she goes on a Friday morning. Emma supports the staff at the group by planning the breaks and assisting in organising the sessions. Trish Gleeson, Learning Support Assistant at Thornbeck College, says: “Emma has been interacting with the children, babies, parents and staff at the Toddler Group. To interact with the children Emma leads the singing session with the group leader, joining in with the actions and playing with musical instruments. Emma helps to give out the snack plates at break time and clears away the toys without prompts. Emma’s communication skills have significantly improved and she now initiates conversations with the parents. The parents regularly comment on how well Emma works with the children and how relaxed she appears. The placement at the Toddler Group has enabled Emma to grow in confidence and she needs very little support to fulfil her role at the placement. “I’m so proud of what Emma has achieved," says Emma's mum Barbara. "We have seen an increase in Emma’s confidence and we’re happy she’s integrating with to the local community. The parents at the Toddler Group are comfortable with Emma and completely trust her to hold their babies and one mum let Emma bottle-feed her baby girl. Emma blossoms in this role and the skills she has acquired have improved her social, communication and listening ability. The college has had a huge impact on her life, she’s more independent and our friends and family have noticed the difference in Emma. When I ask her what her day has been like at the Toddler Group her face lights up, it’s lovely to see her so happy. Find out more about Thornbeck College.