In the summer of 2021, Oliver’s family contacted Autism Early Support to seek help from our Outreach Team. He was finding his current childcare setting challenging, which had only been exacerbated by the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. His current setting was overwhelming as Oliver needs consistency, predictability and adjustments for his sensory differences.

Oliver joined our specialist Circle Centre Nursery in September 2021 and it would be an understatement to say a lot has changed during his time with us. For the first year he wouldn’t access the building, choosing only to play in the garden and needed to throw things constantly or be pulled in a trailer along a set route, to support his interest and wellbeing. However, he formed a strong relationship with his Key Worker and familiar adults. Session-by-session, things began to change. As long as the door is open, showing him he can return to the garden at any time, he is willing to come into the nursery building and explore activities. 

The adults have respected Oliver’s need for time and space, and in turn, he has developed his trust in them. He is now more relaxed, more content and will seek comfort from adults after a meltdown.  This has enabled him to feel more content and relaxed and as a result, his character has started to shine through.  He has a phenomenal memory, eye for detail and an infectious sense of humour. 

At the Circle Centre Nursery, we use the SCERTS Framework to assess a child’s unique strengths and needs. Oliver has made leaps of progress in: his awareness of others; picking up non-verbal cues; using vocalisations and non-verbal signals to communicate; and engaging with and understanding his environment.  He is now able to explore his environment more and will explore more activities such as the red bus, the digger and the ball run. In addition to this he shows more awareness of peers and adults. He is also better at understanding how best to self-regulate, such as having the door open, or using vocalisations to express annoyance when his usual routine isn’t being followed. 

Since attending the Circle Centre Nursery he is happier, has a stronger sense of self, is becoming more independent, and is more flexible and tolerant.

Currently, he is working with his Key Worker on:

  • Requesting a social game e.g. bubbles or being pulled in his trolley.
  • Feeling safe to explore the world around him.
  • Navigating play equipment to improve co-ordination.
  • Introducing him to an Augmentative and Alternative Communication App on his iPad.

His mum regularly attends our Circle Centre Nursery Coffee Mornings – where parents can talk to other parents in a similar position to them. The staff who facilitate the sessions set a theme for discussion, such as food or sleep, and parents can share ideas, challenges and successes in a safe space.

As Oliver is of school age, he is in his last year with us at the Circle Centre Nursery. He has received his diagnosis, his Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is almost finalised and he will be joining a local specialist provision school later this year.

Comments from Oliver’s mum:

“When Oliver first started at the Circle Centre Nursery he was already suffering with anxiety around school and being left in the care of others. Oliver struggled to enter enclosed spaces, relying heavily on regulation methods through sensory play and had no reliable method of communication.

The Circle Centre staff have embraced Oliver’s every high and low, his every good and bad day, and celebrated every single achievement – big or small. Oliver has thrived in the setting, going inside to attend group activities, finding friends and interacting with play. He can follow verbal cues and use object references to communicate a little more. He now runs enthusiastically to the gate to get in, and is reluctant to leave at the end of every session.

We could not be more grateful to the Circle Centre staff; the continued support and the limitless patience they have shown our son has seen him turn into a strong, confident little boy with a keen interest in learning more and discovering new things.

The service has been transformative to us as a family, and it’s difficult to overstate the number of significant changes that we have observed and are grateful for.