Aylesbury Puzzle Centre helps RAF Sergeant's Son

  |  Published: Mar 30th 2016
Ben with family and Puzzle Centre Staff
Ben with family and Puzzle Centre Staff

Sergeant Ben Smart and wife Michelle from RAF Halton noticed the development of their four year old son Logan was not all that it should be and after speaking with several people, his pre-school and numerous professionals within the Bucks County, they were devastated to see him diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), more commonly referred to as Autism.

Ben said: “For me this was a low point in my life, located miles away from either of our families. I found myself with two young children, one of whom was now labelled as ‘special needs’. I approached every available avenue, The Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Families Association (SSAFA), The RAF Chaplaincy,  Halton Medical Centre, a local GP, Logan’s pre-school and the local paediatrician to name but a few but the one place that was mentioned time and time again was the Puzzle Centre.”

Upon his first visit Ben was amazed, as set in a small village called Middle Claydon, it was both peaceful and welcoming. This, he was told was entirely deliberate in order to ensure outside distractions, such as traffic noise, are kept to an absolute minimum. As he walked round he noted that the staff works on a one to one ratio with a maximum class size of eight, and they appeared enthralled by the children who, to an outsider appeared to be just playing and having fun.

Scratching beneath the surface it was explained to Ben that every aspect of the sessions is planned, where able children are asked to formulate a timetable for their day.  The team who look after the school are multi-disciplinary and include specialist teachers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and dedicated learning assistants.

The support does not end at the children’s sessions, one of their functions is to provide support and advice to parents, as he found out when Michelle mentioned in passing how they were struggling at home with coping strategies for Logan. Logan’s teacher immediately offered a home visit so she could take into account their surroundings and environment before offering solutions. Logan also attends a local pre-school called Bigtops and yet again the Puzzle Centre is also happy to provide advice on learning strategies to outside agencies and takes their son’s welfare and development to another level.

Ben continued: “Now two years after our initial concerns we are celebrating our son’s 4th birthday with a party at Halton’s Trinity Community Centre with what can only be described as a community of “Puzzle parents”. Within such a short space of time Logan has progressed beyond our expectations, a party such as this even a year ago would have been unthinkable for us but now we can watch our son enjoying life with his friends”.

“Furthermore I now stand resolute that the future is bright, through the support and training provided by The Puzzle Centre and I now know how to progress with my son’s education and once again feel confident in my role as a father.”

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