A Portadown teenager who once “wouldn’t even have spoken to anybody” is set to graduate later this month with a catering qualification.
Aaron Steele (19), who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is one of six young people graduating from One Eighty Restaurant in Mandeville Street.
He successfully completed eight assessments over the three years at the training restaurant, covering front of house, kitchen and bakery, and has attained an NVQ Level 1 in Catering and Hospitality.
This year, he has also worked two days a week in Brownlow House, where he operates the till among other responsibilities.
His mum Lyn said, “Whenever we go into town, there are so many people who say hello or stop to talk to him.
“When he posted up on his Facebook page about the graduation, he had at least 200 likes and comments from people wishing him well and I’ve had over 100 on my page - from people I hardly know telling me about how amazing he is.
“Not bad for a little boy diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was eight years old.”
Aaron has now started job hunting and, says Lyn, all he needs is someone “to give him a chance”. She paid tribute to One Eighty and the Learning Support Unit at Clounagh JHS where Aaron was a pupil.