Child Spotlight: Harry’s Story

Harry, aged 5, began attending Dingley’s Promise in March 2020 and had spent just 2 weeks in one of our centres before we entered a national lockdown. Over the following 6 months, Dingley’s Promise supported Harry, and his family, through the challenging circumstances, helping Harry develop communications skills, confidence and more, leading to him being given a place at a mainstream primary school!

This is his story:

Harry was transferred to Dingley’s Promise by a mainstream early years setting who were concerned that his significant level of need was not suited to a mainstream environment. Harry is also undergoing assessment for ASD, and although the diagnostic process has been delayed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, early assessments describe him as having features suggestive of ASD with additional complex hearing, social and communication needs.

Before lockdown, Harry’s speech was very limited. He would often only engage in conversation if an adult initiated it and would favour one word answers or short requests. Harry found it challenging to cope in a busy classroom or focus on tasks outside of his own agenda and there were considerate concerns about his behaviour as he would become aggressive under stress. He rarely played with other children, had no interest in stories and avoided group activities.

Additionally, in the past 6 months, Harry has faced a significant amount of unexpected transitions over a short period of time; from moving to a new nursery further from home to adapting to the changes caused by lockdown, resulting in less time at an education setting and more time at home. Harry’s parents noticed that although Harry enjoyed the extra time with his siblings and loved going for family walks in the woods, he missed seeing extended family and the friendships he had begun to form at Dingley’s Promise. This caused them to worry that Harry’s existing social and learning difficulties would be affected.

Harry’s parents are key workers and therefore he was entitled to a nursery place throughout lockdown. Despite Dingley’s Promise centres being closed, Dingley’s Promise staff attended a mainstream setting in a one to one capacity with Harry two days a week. Harry’s family also accessed our remote learning provision, joining in with group zoom sessions involving singing, storytelling and attention autism activities. They also took part in one to one zoom calls with Harry’s key worker and tried activity ideas we had shared online via tapestry at home. Harry’s family kept us updated regularly by uploading their own photos and sharing his achievements too!

During Harry’s short 6 months with Dingley’s Promise, he has worked closely with staff to develop his social and communication skills and learnt to interact with adult led and group activities well. With the assistance of staff, Harry was able to engage in group activities alongside children in a mainstream setting and he now regularly participates in all 4 stages of Attention Autism sessions. Having attended our online sensory story groups, Harry also actively participates in listening, watching and delivering similar stories in the centre now too. He has formed close friendships with the other children and his interests have expanded. Harry is now a very chatty boy who enjoys talking about his experiences, needs and emotions!


With Dingley’s Promise working closely with him throughout the lockdown period, Harry has made huge progress despite national restrictions, and has now been offered a place at a mainstream primary school!

Well done Harry, we’re so proud of all you have achieved!