Ana Potter’s 16-year-old son, Marcus, was having a tough time at school. The bright teen has Asperger Syndrome and, as he approached his GCSEs, he also fell physically ill and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.
From that point onwards, all the plans he’d had, and which Ana had shared, were torn apart.
“It was a total nightmare; extremely frustrating. Marcus got all his grades but the conditional offers he’d had from sixth forms were withdrawn because of his health. His whole world fell apart.
“As a result, his behaviour was out of control. He’d lose his temper and have tantrums and, of course, there were all sorts of side effects from his medication. He was really at rock bottom.”
Desperate to find Marcus an outlet for his creativity, Ana approached the case worker who’d always looked out for him at his school in Norfolk.
Michelle McDonald understood both mother and son’s frustrations and booked Marcus into The Prince’s Trust Get into Robotics course – a STEM inspired week-long course which brings vulnerable young people together to learn through building and operating wheeled robots.
Suddenly, a window opened for Marcus. He could see there were other options ahead.
For Ana, who had been bearing the brunt of her son’s condition, it was a gift.
“On the last day, one member of the group, Michael, even made him a very special (gluten and dairy free) cake for his birthday.”
Having completed the course, Marcus attempted a return to Further Education but once again his poor health prevented him. For Ana it was yet another hurdle that had to be managed in a busy home.
Ana learned about a 12-week Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) course run by the Asperger East Anglia – and enrolled Marcus. Unexpectedly, he loved the course. There was only one problem. It was privately run and, after a few weeks, Ana couldn’t manage the fees.
She went again to see Michelle McDonald.
“Michelle could see how much he loved the course and said she was going to approach The Prince’s Trust and ask them for help.
“I didn’t know what to expect so it was fantastic when she came back and said that The Trust was willing to pay the rest of the course, through a Development Award.”
Since completing the course, Marcus has decided he wants to build a career as a PAT tester and is looking to set up independently. Ana knows that these things don’t happen easily, but she’s hopeful her son will live his dream.
“That in itself is a great leap from where we were.”