Exmouth man overcomes autism and dyslexia to turn life around

PUBLISHED: 09:19 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:19 01 September 2017

Learn Devon tutor Sam Gibb; Matthew Harrington; Learn Devon area manager Allison Cooper

Learn Devon tutor Sam Gibb; Matthew Harrington; Learn Devon area manager Allison Cooper


Matthew Harrington, 35, from Exmouth, has been recognised for his achievement in passing three maths exams at the Kennaway Centre, Victoria Road.

An Exmouth man who overcame autism and dyslexia to pass three maths exams which helped turn his life around, has been recognised.

Matthew Harrington, 35, has been given an achievement award by Learn Devon, the county council’s adult education service.

He was presented with an embossed glass bowl and a certificate of achievement in a presentation at Learn Devon’s Kennaway Centre, Victoria Road.

Just a few years ago Matthew, who couldn’t read, suffered from a lack of confidence. Living at home he couldn’t work and struggled with things like visiting the shops.

After deciding to turn his life around, he taught himself to read and signed up to a maths course at Learn Devon.

“My maths skills were very poor,” said Matthew.

“All my life I have had problems. I wasn’t able to work or go far on my own. I just wanted to change things in my life.”

He also said initially the course was difficult for him.

Matthew added: “I was nervous, lacking confidence and I failed my first exam.

“But I’m determined. I take one day at a time and I kept persisting and suddenly things started to make sense. My advice? Don’t think about it too much.

“The key is to take things in small steps and don’t worry about things, just do them – if you think about where you want to be it can be overwhelming.”

Now Matthew has landed a job at Devon Cliffs Holiday Park and volunteers at the Cancer Research charity shop in Exmouth. He has also signed up for more courses.

A spokesman for Devon Cliffs said it has been a ‘pleasure’ to have Matthew working for them for this season.

“My employers are really nice to me, added Matthew.

“I’ve cleaned 178 caravans so far. I like to keep a tally. My new found maths skills have certainly helped with that.

“I am very grateful to Learn Devon and Haven Holiday Parks, they have helped give me the skill and confidence I needed.”

Alison Cooper, Learn Devon area manager, said: “I hope that Matthew’s story shows what can be achieved through perseverance and will inspire others.

“Learning support is designed to give you the help you need to access your chosen course and any learner can request support.”

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