Rebecca started at JAC in January 2019, attending for one hour per week. Over the next six months this has slowly increased to two and a half hours. To many, this might not seem like very much, but for Rebecca to voice ' I like JAC, and I want to go more’, is a huge leap. Wanting to attend is the biggest, and hardest hurdle that Rebecca faces.

I first contacted JACS in November 2018. I had been constantly searching for settings that could accommodate Rebecca’s needs, and where her art talent, and interest in animals could be nurtured. In my search on a local private face book page, two members directed me to try JAC. My first email was so affirming with the response, ' I am sure that we can find a way to help.’ Maybe this was the right place.

At the time, Rebecca's self esteem was very low. The downward spiral since 2014, had left her very vulnerable and fragile. Finding the right nurturing environment was the top priority.

Rebecca stopped attending main stream education in the autumn of 2014, when she was 14. Up until that point she was thought to be just, ' shy’; but a B/C GCSE student in all subjects.

‘I just can't do it any more,' were Rebecca's words. What Rebecca did not understand, and neither did we, her parents, was that Rebecca has Autism. As a girl her presentation was very different to that of boys. Our older son, Matthew, whilst at primary school was given a diagnosis of Autism and ADHD. Girls on the autism spectrum though can present very differently. They watch, mimic and mask what they don't intuitively know. This was Rebecca. Masking became ingrained. Growing in to teenage years though, you have to start making sense of the world for yourself, making your own decisions and life choices. For Rebecca this was all too difficult, and she ' shut down.’

Shut down for Rebecca made her socially anxious. She could not attend school, or go out side of the home without a parent; she lost many self care skills, and became a selective mute (anxiety prevents verbal, and sometimes any form of communication). She was left behind by her school friends, and became socially isolated.

This situation has remained unchanged in 5 years. Her specialist autism school placement for the past 2 years has been very challenging. The journey of an hour each way, and their lack of understanding of Rebecca left her both physically and emotionally drained.

Then Rebecca came to JACS. Clare was allocated as her mentor. Clare has a very hard task. Trying to get Rebecca to engage in any activity can be very difficult, but Clare has become the empowerer. Rebecca 'trusts’ her. Clare instinctively knows when to push, guide, or step back. She has picked up on Rebecca's talent for anything 'arty. She has given Rebecca hope in herself. Rebecca told me she was proud with her clay model of 'Jasmine,' her dog. Clare is helping Rebecca to move forward, and trust her own abilities, a difficult task when you want perfection, but don't understand your own emotions. You don't want to start a task, because you might fail. Clare has gone above and beyond her role, reading up on Rebecca's presentation, and landing me books as well. She is engaging in the steps to facilitate verbal communication, but taking each tiny step at Rebecca's pace,

Rebecca is part of our small close knit Christian family. As parents, Robert and I have always nurtured, encouraged, and guided our children, with patience and love. For Rebecca to begin to function in the world around her, she needed a similar nurturing and guiding environment. JAC has provided this. Rebecca has a long path to walk down, before she is able to take charge of her own life, but with JAC helping to guide on that pathway, Rebecca is very slowly learning, ' I can.’

Thank you to all at JAC.