Non-verbal Holmes Chapel man who had no understanding of outside world becomes "incredible employee" in first paid job

When Adam Davenport was diagnosed with profound autism as a toddler, he and his family faced an uncertain future.

"You don't know what lies ahead," his mother Zoe told me. "But we have always believed in Adam and have focused on his strengths."

Adam is non-verbal, meaning he can't comprehend language or communicate through the use of words. As a youngster, Adam had no understanding of the outside world.

After a difficult childhood, Adam progressed through education and transformed his self-confidence at college. Work placements convinced his parents of his potential.

"We saw that Adam was very capable and could do a job. It was just finding a job and how to get to that point," Zoe said.

Thankfully the family was introduced to The Springboard Project, a new initiative which aims to prepare students with special educational needs and disabilities to step into the workplace as productive and fulfilled employees.

It was a relief for Adam's dad Craig.

He said, "We weren't really sure what he was going to do next. When this came along it ticked all the boxes. It's been wonderful for him."

Adam tells his supervisor he needs another task by holding up a job card Credit: ITV Granada

The scheme combines work experience in local businesses with taught sessions and independent learning activities at Springfield School in Crewe.

Now Adam has started work at Thermmark Ltd in Congleton, a factory which makes thermo-plastic markings for roads and playgrounds around the world.

He has secured a permanent 25-hour contract as a packing and assembly assistant.

At first Adam worked alongside job coaches who learned the role themselves and gradually trained him to work independently. Job cards allow him to communicate with his colleagues.

Zoe Macy, the supported internship co-ordinator at Cheshire East Council, said: "What this has meant for Adam and his family is completely life-changing. He's working three days a week now with regular overtime. The chances are that those hours will extend to full time and he only started in January. So it is a very rewarding job."

Adam labels product packages by copying the shapes of letters Credit: ITV Granada

Adam isn't the only one to benefit. Bosses have been impressed, calling him an "incredible employee."

I met Adam's supervisor, James Jump.

He told me, "He's brilliant. From where he started to where he is now, you don't even really have to watch him... He's so independent. It's unbelievable really.

"He's so fast we can't keep up with him. He's a great asset to the company.

"We were a bit apprehensive. We were thinking how is this going to work if he is non-verbal? This is going to be hard. But within a matter of 2-3 weeks of him being here it was there to be seen. This is going to be alright. This is going to be easy. He's a good lad."

James tells me that Adam is part of the team.

"If I'm singing, I've not exactly got a good voice but he'll be laughing with me. If we're having a joke with the lads you see him taking it all in, laughing, smiling and joking.

"And he makes brews. You don't want more than that!"

Company director Vicki Robson told me she wants other companies to be open to supported internships and give all people a chance to find paid work.

She said, "It's a great thing to have a diverse workforce and why shouldn't everybody have an equal opportunity?

"Adam is a fantastic employee. He's brilliant at his job. He's genuinely the perfect fit for that role. And if we can do that as a small to medium size business, with all the distractions that we have going on in a day, then why can't some other bigger companies?"

Adam's parents agree.

Mum Zoe said, "Hopefully more employers will come on board because they've got nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain."

Meanwhile their son, who has found a new passion spending his hard-earned money, has surpassed their expectations.

"He has a communication app and he was actually asking me on his days off to go to Thermmark! So we know he's happy.

"They've really embraced him there. They have been phenomenal. He's happy to go to work every day. His colleagues tell me he works with a smile on his face all day.

"Adam has got his perfect job."