A Dundee student has overcome his anxiety to become a confident public speaker for the first time in more than 20 years.
From childhood, Jonathan Munro was deemed to be a selective mute, where he was not able to speak in certain situations.
For years he only felt comfortable enough talking at home to his mum, Maxine.
Jonathan then went to Dundee and Angus (D&A) College after school but also struggled with socialising due to the pandemic and remote learning.
‘For the first time in 22 years, Jonathan spoke in an education context’
However, in 2022, backed by his mum, he signed up for the DFN Project SEARCH programme, a business-led transition to employment initiative for adults with a learning disability or autism.
A spokesperson for the college said: “For the first time in 22 years, in an education context, Jonathan spoke at the interview day.
“From this point on, he continued to speak and develop his verbal communication with the continued support and encouragement from his lecturer and job coach.
“His mental health has hugely benefited from the engagement and structure, and he has gained a sense of purpose and meaning in the community.”
Jonathan has made so much progress that he spoke in front of more than 100 people at his graduation from the programme in May.
Mum Maxine says the course has been transformative.
Mum says son ‘unrecognisable’ after D&A College programme
She said: “Since being in DFN Project SEARCH, Jonathan has found his voice and is using it a lot.
“The transformation in Jonathan is unrecognisable. There is no doubt in my mind this supportive environment allowed him to thrive.”
Leanne Macdonald, lecturer in supported education at D&A College, said: “We are all so incredibly proud of Jonathan – his development is life-changing.”
Jonathan has been nominated for the NHS Star Award for Young Achiever in recognition for his outstanding personal development and growth due to the DFN Project SEARCH programme.
He also received two awards in the D&A College prizegiving even – the Armistead Prize for Personal Achievement and Ede and Ravenscroft Prize for Outstanding Achievement.