Alexander is finding his voice

When Alexander Churchman turned 21 he did something he had never done in his life – participated in the celebrations and opened his presents.

For his mum Debbie it was a precious moment.

Alexander has autism, challenging behaviour and mobility and learning difficulties. He finds it difficult to engage in conversation and needs time to process speech, otherwise everything can become overwhelming.

In the past, even a family gathering could prove too much and Alexander would withdraw to his bedroom.

But his behaviour has changed since starting a residential course at National Star 18 months ago.

‘I’ve been able to have a small conversation with him for the first time,’ says his mum Debbie. ‘He’s never been interested in presents, but he said “presents, can I open them?” with a big beam and got so excited.

‘There were a lot of people in the house and Alexander was in the thick of it, laughing and singing.’

She says the multi-disciplinary approach of National Star’s physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music and drama therapy and speech and language teams has transformed her son.

He moves around with the support of a walking frame, participates and waits his turn in class, makes simple choices and can carry on short conversations.

‘Alexander has developed more in 18 months at National Star than in his entire schooling. He’s now a settled young man,’ says Debbie.

‘One of the biggest things for Alexander is to be able to give him a choice. All his life he has been dictated to because he either wouldn’t engage or didn’t understand what was being asked of him. He needs his voice. National Star is teaching him to use that voice and to make choices.’

Find out more

Find out more about National Star’s learning programmes or contact the Admissions team at or on 01242 534928.

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Continuing reading the inspiring stories from National Star’s 50-year history.

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Find out how we’ve been realising the aspirations of people with disabilities since we first opened our doors in 1967.

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