'He'd have ended up sat in the corner'

Peter Flynn (pictured above) had a difficult childhood. He grew up in a children's home and spent long periods in hospital having treatment for a severe and complicated medical condition brought on by his cerebral palsy.

After an unsuccessful placement with a foster family, he was adopted by Christine Flynn, one of the carers at his special school who had known him since he was a baby.

"We had to start building up his confidence and just when he was starting to get somewhere he had to leave school," said Christine.

When he left school at 19, his parents were anxious for him to continue in education, and they eventually secured funding for him to attend Bridge College in Stockport.

"Probably he would have ended up at a day centre, sat in a corner," said Christine. "It wasn't until a few days before college started that we found out we had got funding for him. I was delighted."

After six months at college, Peter is beginning to show signs of improvement. He cannot speak, walk or sit up unaided, but he is happier and his bouts of distress have diminished.

He is now able to choose his lunch from a menu, has learnt to control his head movements, and the college is developing technology that will enable him to operate a tape recorder with his leg.

"We are working towards a time when he might be able to communicate better with other people, instead of them having to guess what he wants," said Christine. "He's never going to be able to do a job but at least he is being stimulated and not just vegetating."

TES april 11 1997 news team

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