Ronan is just your average 16 yearr old teenager who enjoys his Xbox and going to watch his favourite team, Celtic play their games but Ronan is doing more than this and in 2017 he will be taking part in the Special Olympics.
Ronan has what’s known as global learning difficulties which means he suffers from a lack of communication skills and also a lack of understanding. On top of dealing with this he also suffers from suspected autistic spectrum disorder and information processing delay disorder which in general terms means that the part of the brain which stores and processes information doesn’t function properly, so things like a simple command are very hard for him to process.
Ronan went to a mainstream school up until half way through primary four where he was failed by a lack of understanding by his teachers over his behaviour and his learning difficulties and after an unsuccessful meeting with the school Ronan’s mum took matters into her own hands as Ronan was getting lost in the system. Ronan’s mum fought very hard to get him tested to see what was wrong with him and in time LADS (Lanarkshire Autism Diagnostic Service) diagnosed Ronan’s learning difficulties. He was then transferred to Fir Park School after yet another meeting with the school and letters from the doctors who diagnosed him, where he settled in well and started to flourish. Ronan’s mum was then approached by the PE teacher at Fir Park and told her how Ronan had a great ability for swimming and asked her to contact the Clyde Valley Beavers Swimming Club.
The club has been a lifeline for Ronan as all the kids have a wide range of disabilities from learning to physical. It has helped Ronan gain confidence and taught him how to socialise as he finds it very hard when confronted with new situations. The club is also like a family to him and they are all very close. The difficulties these kids face do not hold them back as two of the kids swim for Scotland and have set records.
Ronan got selected for the Special Olympics through a process of different swimming strokes and how good his times were etc. He became theScottish Champion in November for his breaststroke at The Scottish Schools Championships at Tollcross. He also recently competed in a 100m individual medley (4 different strokes at 25m each) where he achieved a gold medal. Their coaches put in a lot of hard work with the team and they do so in their own free time, but all that passion for teaching the kids pays off not only in their swimming but also in their ability to build confidence, the self worth they deserve and helps with their personal development. Fir Park School also helps to teach kids life skills to cope in everyday life and between that, Ronan’s swimming and his family he has everything and everyone he needs to live every day life.
Ronan’s trip to the 2017 Special Olympics was made real when his mum filled out forms to give Ronan the chance to compete, this is when friends of the family who also play with The County Flute Band stepped in and told her that if Ronan qualified that the band would be more than happy to help out with any help she needed as he is a local lad and it was for a good cause.
Ronan qualified and less than 24hrs later the band had made the decision to sponsor him. The County Flute Band will now help him out with his travel, hotel and his kit costs, but this is far from over for Ronan who will now be training for the Special Olympics in 2017 and The County Flute Band will be there to support him all the way.
They say dreams can come true and for Ronan his definitely has. We will be following his journey and we wish him all the best of luck in the future. Diversity can be overcome.
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