Words from Debbie Mitchener, mother of Leo, who uses KIDS' Independent Support service:

"My son Leo was 10 when Paula from KIDS came to help us with our application for an EHC Plan. He had not been in school properly for two years with increasingly difficult behavioural problems. He was first diagnosed with Dyslexia, then auditory processing difficulties, and finally, just before his 10th birthday, high functioning Autism.

As we adjusted to diagnosis and realised the breadth of his difficulties, we knew he would sink in a normal state school. Instead, we knew that a residential school that would deal with his dyslexia and autism as a package would be best for him. A school with boys just like him and a vocational program as well as academic. However we were told time and time again the local council would not place him there.

This is where Paula came in. She was a voice of reason, but also a mum who understood what we needed and where our concerns were coming from. She listened and advised, and when she couldn't, she found the answers. She held our hand at all of the planning meetings and interjected when points were being brushed under the carpet. Paula also was the gentle reminder when I forgot all that we needed to say, and she ensured Leo’s voice was heard. We got the EHC Plan and Leo got to go to the school he wanted, which was in a large part due to the help and support of Paula.

That however is not the end, as I want you to know and be able to show the impact KIDS’ help has had upon Leo. He has gone from a child refusing to go to school entirely to having 100% attendance with good grades and high effort and behaviour grades. He is excelling at Maths, English, Science and other academic subjects, as well as showing a passion for Cookery and Land based studies. I know he will now go on to achieve the grades in GCSE and A Levels that he is capable of. He could even go onto University to study Classics, which is currently his passion.

He has changed from a young boy shut up in his room having suicidal thoughts, to a young man with friends and ambition. I have not seen him this happy and thriving since he was four years old.

Without KIDS and their support, not just from Paula but all of the support staff, Leo would still be stuck in that place. Leo and countless children like him need people like Paula and the support of an organisation like KIDS.”