Student William becomes a storyteller

William is a student at our Specialist College in Harrogate. By working to develop his communication and IT skills William has created and written an original story and used stop animation to make his film "Olivia goes to a party."

When William, who has autism and significant learning, language and communication difficulties, started at College he struggled to talk about what he’d been doing or understand stories.

Our Speech and Language Therapists used a narrative intervention approach to help William break down the activities he took part in by looking at who, what, when, where and what happened.

Through hard work and determination, one day everything clicked and William was able to report his news. This opened up a whole new world of storytelling and impacted on William’s learning in a really positive way.

A male student sits at a computer using the mouse

Early last year, William began to write his own story, entitled “Olivia goes to a party”. William was able to understand and use language to describe who was going to be in his story, where it was going to take place and what was going to happen. Working alongside his instructor Sam, William created a number of imaginative characters, settings and storyboards.

William then embarked on his first large writing project typing and, for the first time ever, handwriting his story onto paper.  He used specialist equipment (a pen grip and a writing board) to aid him with his writing and was initially given hand over hand support to form letters.  This support was reduced as Williams writing skills progressed until he was able to form letters himself, with support needed only to steady his wrist.

A male student is writing a story using a pencil and paper on a sloped support

The next step was creating a stop motion animation to tell William’s story on the big screen.  To do this, William learned how to operate a printer and was taught camera skills to photograph the frames he needed to make a stop motion animation of his story.

Overall, the project took over 70 hours to complete and William was so proud of his achievement that he entered it into the annual “Henshaws Got Talent” competition, where he won the runner up prize.

A hand point a camera on a tripod at a scene created using a cardboard box to make an animated film

I’m so very proud of William and the effort he has put in to create his animated story. Having worked with William for a number of years the progress he has made in so many areas is incredible. It was therefore a great privilege to see him awarded the runner-up position in Henshaws Got Talent. It was well deserved.”

Sam Jesper, Instructor, Henshaws Specialist College

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