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Kian’s story

Kian, aged 12, has turned his school life around after a move from mainstream schooling to the independent specialist school Aurora Hanley, which supports young people aged 6 to 19 with complex needs associated with Autism spectrum conditions. 

At 7, Kian was diagnosed with dyspraxia. He’s also likely to have autism too but hasn’t yet been diagnosed.

Before Hanley, he wasn’t happy.

His mum Amy talks about his earlier education: “In pre-school everything seemed OK but when he started primary he fell behind and subsequently started withdrawing. Kian hated that and started crying regularly - he knew he wasn’t like his friends and that was heart breaking. He couldn’t cope with the school environment and was being physically sick from the stress. He went on to stop eating and things were at crisis point. He felt unwanted.”

This all had an impact on the wider family too. Amy says: “I felt a failure as a mum and cried my eyes out. Everything was so stressful. I knew mainstream would be no good for him for secondary school – he needed a small setting, but I had to fight all the way for what we needed. Kian needed support and the wider family did too.”

Finding education to suit Kian’s needs

Kian looked at a few alternative secondary schools but didn’t like them as they were too big. He visited Aurora Hanley and fell in love. “From that point on he couldn’t go anywhere else,” said Amy. 

Placements Manager Trudy Baker FaceTimed Kian and supported him and the family through the process to secure his place.

Amy said: “It all happened fast in the end – I had a call to say Kian got in. He was jumping for joy so much.”

Kian was keen to start his new school.

Aurora Hanley

Kian’s been at Hanley since February. He was meant to be on a more gradual introduction, but he wanted to go full time as soon as possible so the school were fine with that.

Kian loves going to school now. “He was actually gutted when it got to school holidays as he’s loving being there so much. 

“I can’t tell you how much that’s benefitted us as a family,” said Amy. “The house feels so much less stressful as we know he’s happy. He’ll walk off in morning very happy. He has a favourite teacher he loves working with. It’s such a huge difference and I wish other schools were this good. 

“The teachers here get to know your child and can take the time to do it. He’s always talking about school. He loves the school dinners and winds his siblings up about how nice his dinner was. Chinese is his favourite. It feel like living a dream with this school now. It feels like paradise after hell.”


The future is now looking much brighter for Kian. He loves reading and history (he’s especially interested in the Great Fire of London and has been to Pudding Lane to see the area for himself) and he’d like to be a librarian.

Amy said: “It’s nice for him to have more independence. He may always need support but that’s OK with me and I’m always here for him. For him to get a librarian job would be amazing, but ultimately I’m happy if he’s happy – and he most definitely is now!”