Dan in the kitchen
Dan

Everyone has a different path to learning. Dan’s path had a rocky beginning, but he’s well on his way now, and having overcome so many obstacles he’s not looking back.

To say that Dan didn’t enjoy school was an understatement. When he was young ADHD wasn’t as well understood as it is today and education in many schools was much less child centred. He experienced some really bad events, from bullying upwards, with his peers and with adults, and he became hyper alert to anything that might be a warning sign of similar. If someone looked at him the wrong way he’d go immediately into hostile mode. Dan attended eight schools, including a boarding school. Given the many transitions and the level of stress experienced, it was hardly surprising that learning was the last thing on his mind.

Finding a personal learning style

Dan went to college in Lower Hillmorton Road in Rugby (the old Warwickshire College site), and for a while worked as a plasterer. He had a number of jobs after this, but none lasted very long as he hadn’t really recovered from his start in life, or learned to manage his ADHD. He enjoyed making things, included a wheel of fortune and an elaborate cardboard structure of different colours.

Given Dan’s early experiences, you might expect that returning to education would be challenging, but he views learning very differently now. He decided to attend courses on ACL’s Active Learning programme to make new friends, in the beginning, but his goals have become more ambitious as he’s carried on. He’s currently enrolled on a Life Skills course, and it’s his aim to save enough by managing his money wisely to go on holiday to Perranporth, a place in Cornwall he’s visited before and loved. He’s also cooking and learning new recipes, and he’s started an art course, too. He reports that drawing people is really challenging, as most artists would agree! Perhaps some seascapes will be the next project. It’s clear that Dan has found a way of learning that suits him, and makes huge progress at everything he decides to pursue.

Some of Dan’s courses take place in Pound Lane, the site of one of his schools when younger, but he says the place doesn’t look anything like it did back then. It certainly doesn’t feel the same, these days. He’s clearly comfortable and relaxed in his classes, taking charge of his own learning with his personal development goals in mind.

Determination

Dan admits starting again can be a struggle. Even now, he sometimes has to fight an urge to procrastinate.

He says to others in the same position - ‘Sometimes you need to force yourself to go on a journey. Come and learn more!’

Find out more about Active Learning for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities through Adult Community Learning.

Published: 3rd March 2022