Learner Harvey discovered the thriving music department at LVS Hassocks last winter, and despite having little previous experience wanted to have a go – something that is encouraged at the school in any discipline.
Under the guidance of music teacher Paul Selkirk, within months Harvey was performing on stage at Easter Sharing, reducing his mother Catherine to tears who didn’t realise that inside Harvey was a budding performer trying to get out. She said: “He was very shy at mainstream school but has come on leaps and bounds here in a short time. When he came to his trial day here he said to me “mum, they just get me”, and he was right”.
Harvey joined LVS Hassocks in September 2015. He began a transition into residential, becoming a full time residential student by the end of October 2015. When Harvey started in residential he needed staff support for almost all personal care. He explained he was unable to dress himself independently and needed staff support with his bath. Harvey now completes all personal tasks independently, even being able to tie his own shoe laces and has learnt life skills such as bed making and cleaning his room – just some of the key skills LVS Hassocks gives to learners to help them live independently as adults.
When Harvey first spent evenings in residential he had difficulties falling asleep and settling to bed, needing a member of staff there in order to feel safe. If he woke in the night he ran to night staff and would be unable to settle down again. He now settles to sleep independently and is able to return to sleep if he wakes in the night. He is slowly starting to appear to understand when he is feeling tired and takes appropriate actions when this is the case.
When asked about how he feels he has progressed since his time here began, he said: “I couldn’t cook before – I was nervous in the kitchen and worried about being burnt. He can now cook a variety of items and is confident in the kitchen, and even helps other students if they are unsure.
Now progress can also be seen in Harvey developing friendships – he has friends and can be very caring and supportive of others – and social skills, with more control over emotions, notably his anger. He can also recognise more emotions than when he first arrived.
Harvey’s developing confidence brought about through music culminated in him taking to the stage to sing at the summer sharing with the school’s Hassocks Allstars Blues Band – many of whom are five or six years older than him – and made a big impression on everyone including his family. His mother Catherine said: “Harvey arrived here with no self-esteem or confidence and would never have stood on stage and sung. We will always remember today as we have seen him really express himself and have fun. He knows he can do it now because the school has helped him to communicate about his problems and self-regulate his behaviour”.
Music is a catalyst for development and success in other areas for Harvey too, as he explains: “Doing music helps me to stay motivated to do my lessons as well. At my old school I didn’t do very much, but because I have music to look forward to and enjoy boarding too it makes me happier to do lessons too and stay interested in things”.
You can read about – and watch – the special talent of another of our pupils here as Elliot demonstrates his incredible art and describes how it helps him deal with autism.