Robert is a young man with Asperger's Syndrome. He initially attended a special school before going on to mainstream secondary school and completing his Leaving Certificate Applied and his Post Leaving Certificate Courses. After secondary school Robert went to study an Access Course at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Robert enjoyed his studying and his teachers and tutors were very supportive of his learning requirements. However, he also wanted to explore employment opportunities.
In 2010, he attended a course in the VEC called “IT Skills for Employment”. This was a great opportunity for Robert to meet new people, learn new things, but more importantly to gain confidence in dealing with and communicating with other people. When he was almost finished this course, the National Learning Network was suggested as a progression route.
Robert is currently participating on a training programme called Prospects. It is specifically designed for people with Asperger's Syndrome. The course includes modules on vocational training and work placements as well as modules on communications skills, career planning, health & safety in the work place, personal effectiveness, personal & interpersonal skills.
As part of the course Robert has a work placement one day a week in a local shop. He says “I love going to my work experience on a Friday. I work in a shop stacking shelves and helping customers find things. It is great for getting out and meeting people and also learning new skills that I thought I could never be able to do”.
Robert has had a very positive experience at the National Learning Network and finds the staff supportive and friendly. He hopes that when he finishes his course at the NLN that he will be able to get a paid job.