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The right support put Ewan on the road to a first-class degree

 

A former student at Coleg Sir Gâr who has graduated this year with a first-class degree, has proven that with the right support, autism is not a barrier to learning.

With an interest from a very young age in computing and how gadgets work, Ewan Richards knew that computing was the right educational path for him and chose ICT as a GCSE at Bryngwyn Comprehensive School.

After school, Ewan studied computing at extended diploma level at Coleg Sir Gâr and later at HND level, then he progressed to University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) to study a degree in applied computing.

Following his achievement in obtaining a first-class degree, the university has offered Ewan a place to study their master’s degree in software engineering in Swansea.  

At the beginning of Ewan’s college journey, he was put in close contact with Coleg Sir Gâr’s learner support team so that he could access support when needed. 

Ewan Richards said: “As a student with autism, I was very well supported thanks to lecturers and support staff.

“They assisted me with situations that I found stressful and found methods of relaxation.

“Staff also helped me to improve my confidence and discover quiet spaces on campus as I don’t like a lot of loud noise.

“I had access to specialist tutors who gave me guidance with work as well as mentors who assisted me with situations that I found upsetting.

“I also had access to a study assistant who provided encouragement and research skills.”

At college he was also a Respect Champion and supported the learning support team at events and with campaigns. 

The support continued at UWTSD where Ewan said the student services team helped develop his confidence and ensured he was included within the university environment including events such as virtual open days as well as receiving help with proofreading, emotional support from mentors and a space to talk.

Ewan immersed himself into university life as he did at college, becoming a student ambassador and helping those thinking about their next step to college and university.

His campaign work for autism has been extensive and began at Coleg Sir Gâr where he took part in a video about learning with autism in a college environment which looked at how daunting the transition can be for someone with autism and how colleges support and prepare people with additional learning needs.

Ewan presented a talk at the video launch where he spoke about the support he received at college and from Autism Wales. He also raised awareness of autism in the workplace as part of Autism Wales’ Employment Symposium Stakeholder Group and featured in Autism Wales 2019/20 annual report talking about his experience of working with the national autism team.

He continues to campaign to raise awareness about autism as he recently was part of a National Autistic Society Wales project called Peer Support Experiences: Autistic Adults in Wales which is investigating how social isolation can impact on people’s mental health and looking at ways to combat the issue.

Looking towards the future, Ewan added: “Once I finish my MSc, I would like to become a website developer for either an educational or entertainment venue organisation.”