Richard Mylan and his son Jaco are on a mission to raise awareness about the common but often misunderstood conceptions surrounding Autism.
And if the response to their BBC Breakfast appearance, last April, is anything to go by, they’re well on their way to achieving their goal.
Jaco, 11, appeared alongside his father to discuss their documentary ‘Richard And Jaco: Life With Autism’, in which Richard spends time with adults on the autistic spectrum, in order to find answers to some questions he has about his son’s future.
In this frank and honest interview, I chat to Richard about his son's autism and how we should move on from Autism awareness to start building acceptance too.
First of all, please could you introduce you and your son, Jaco to my readers?
My son Jaco is nearly 12 years old. He is like all autistics, one of a kind.
What kind of sensory issues does your son deal with every day?
Jaco's sensory issues are mainly based around sound, although there are others, that's his main one.
How has Jaco's Autism affected you personally?
Jaco's autism has affected me personally in a positive way. It's made me a better person, more tolerant, understanding, patient. It's changed me for the better.
What do you find has been the greatest challenge yet about being an Autism parent?
It's all a bit of a challenge but I relish a good challenge! The main thing is the time things take to be learned at his own pace. You have to allow and plan for that. Pressure is not a good idea.
What is the greatest moment to date that you have had with your son?
So many great moments. The most recent was him achieving his level 1 in swimming after 7 years of one to one lessons. I burst with pride.
When and what made you decide to speak publicly about your son's Autism?
I genuinely wanted to find out what options were available for people like Jaco. It wasn't and still isn't clearly sign-posted.
Is there one thing that you would love for people not familiar with raising an autistic child to know?
How incredibly, unique, rewarding, uplifting and love-filled raising an autistic child can be.
What have you learnt the most about raising a child who's got Autism?
I've learned the true meaning of parenthood. I've learned about Love and commitment.
What sort of general response and feedback have you been receiving from the public?
The response has been incredible. I was genuinely blown away. I still am. I was so happy that people could identify and relate to our experience.
What are your goals for the future of raising autism awareness?
That we move away from awareness to acceptance. To a future where autistics are fully integrated, supported and utilised.
Gregory Finnegan first appeared on our TV screens last January when Hollyoaks introduced his character James Nightingale. Ever since then, we've seen the scheming lawyer manipulate Scott Drinkwell for personal gain and begin an affair with his boyfriend John Paul McQueen. He's also feuded with Ste Hay and blackmailed his boyfriend Harry Thompson into sleeping with him. His character has never been short of drama since the day he arrived in the Hollyoaks village.
Nevertheless of James Nightingale, but in the real word, I exclusively chat to the actor himself as he speaks out about his young niece's autism and how it affects him and the rest of his family.
Hi Gregory! When was your niece diagnosed with Autism and how has it affected you and the rest of your family?
My Niece, Tess, was officially diagnosed with Autism when she was around 6, though my sister and her husband were fairly sure some time before, from around 3. I believe as far as classification goes, which I know is hard to define, I believe she has Classic Autism – so mid ranging I guess. She displays typical Autistic tendencies. There have been some very tough moments for my Sister and the family, as I am sure it is fall all families at one time or another. Trying to understand what she needs and how best to provide it so she can have a normal upbringing as possible which has been hard.
How has the education needs been for Tess and your family?
They have had some real battles with her Educational needs and the lack of support from the Council and other government bodies which has been disappointing. There is a clear funding gap and councils are clearly being squeezed, so getting the help your child needs can be tremendously difficult. There needs to be a big shift in the way funding is applied to children with special needs as I believe schools currently need to commit to paying the first £6k of a child's care before the council will step in and top that up and schools are clearly reluctant to do that in these Austere times we live in.
What are your her main interests and hobbies?
She loves Nature and Animals and has always been a dab-hand at computer games such as Minecraft. She’s a good little artist too.
Do you feel you have enough knowledge and understanding about autism?
I definitely don’t. My sister on the other hand is amazing and has been home schooling Tess now for some time and the leaps forward Tess has made have been enormous because of her dedication. I think people are very quick to judge the decisions of parents dealing with children that have Autism but I’m a firm believer that we should trust the parents and take their lead. My sister has come in for criticism for home schooling but she was really left with no choice and it has proven to be the best thing for Tess.
What have you learnt the most about your niece's autism?
She is very communicative. In fact she will tell you her life story the moment you meet her! Some years ago she was very much in her own world and having personal interaction with her was difficult but it's fantastic now, and she is increasingly engaged with the world around her which is lovely to see.
How is your niece's communication skills?
Yeah she definitely likes things a certain way – whether that be an insistence that her bed is never made or keeping food groups apart. She is staying with us at the moment and I am learning all her idiosyncrasies daily! She is also extremely literal, in that you have to be very specific about what you are asking of her or else she doesn’t understand.
Does your niece have any behavioural traits?
I guess for me I really want to help and am not always sure how to do that. We live a long way apart so we don’t see each other as much as I would like. Supporting my sister in the decisions she makes is important I think and also I am hoping I can try to raise awareness of the needs of families dealing with Autism. My friend Tim Downie recently walked around the Isle of White is support of The Blue Sky Autism Project (twitter.com/EarlyASD) who support families dealing with Autism in Scotland and I hope to do something in the same spirit soon.
What is your relationship towards each other like?
She is such a wonderfully loving little girl and will plonk herself on your lap as soon as you've sat down. I’m really proud of the leaps she is making and know she’s got a great future ahead of her.
Lastly, what are your thought on my blog?
Love the blog – It's great what you are doing so keep it up! I wish you every success for the future.
Countless of celebrities today have got involved to help raise awareness. It's becoming furthermore known each and every day, especially for many stars in the spotlight who have got autistic relatives in their lives.
These are just a few of the british celebrities. You will be very surprised by how many there are that are affected with autism.
It's frequently been revealed by Geordie Shore star Charlotte Crosby that her younger brother, Nathan, is on the autism spectrum. Nathan has made a couple of appearances in his sister's YouTube videos. In 2016, Charlotte revealed that she had donated her TV appearance money to charity after her stint on ITV2 game show - 'Release The Hounds'.
Charlotte shared a letter she received on Twitter, which thanks her for her generosity after giving her TV appearance fees as a donation to the National Autistic Society. 'We are absolutely delighted that you chose to donate the proceeds,' the letter reads.
It continues: 'I know that autism is a cause close to your heart, and I do hope that we have an opportunity to meet and with you and your family in the near future.'
TV presenter, Gethin Jones has been showing much of his support and raising awareness of the autism community, revealing that his young nephew is diagnosed with Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun newspaper last year, Gethin revealed: "My nine-year-old nephew Alby makes me cry too. He has autism and sometimes, after I’ve been to see him, I have a bit of a cry on the way home because I worry about his future. I try to turn that fear into a positive, though, and do a lot of work to raise awareness about autism."
Amy Willerton gave an incredibly moving interview on This Morning in which she discussed the heartbreaking bullying her autistic brother faces daily. As Amy works to raise awareness of autism, she recounted a horrific story of how a mother once stopped her children playing with Ross because of his disability.
‘He went up to some kids and their mother dragged her son away from him and said, “Don’t play with that child, he’s got a disease." Amy added: ‘It’s not a disease. With autism, their brains are wired differently, you can’t catch anything.’
Squaring up to the bullies, Amy declared ‘we will defend him until death’,
Boyzone’s Keith Duffy spoken last year about the joys and challenges he and wife Lisa have faced bringing up their autistic teenage daughter.
Mia, now 15, was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old. And Keith revealed that at times raising Mia tested her parents’ relationship to breaking point.
In an interview with the Mirror for World Autism Day in 2015, the singer and former Coronation Street actor said: “A lot of couples break up and there were certain points it was very tough. “Thank God we stuck together, got through hard times and are still together.”
Melanie Sykes has previously revealed how she hoped her son was deaf rather than autistic while speaking at the London Autism Show in 2015.
The TV presenter had shared how she was left feeling “sick and overwhelmed” when her two-year-old son Valentino was diagnosed with autism eight years ago. Valentino struggled since birth with his behaviour and communication, leaving Mel at times in despair.
An emotional Mel recalled her experience with extracts from her diary, and admits being in denial when receiving the diagnosis as she hoped her son was deaf instead.
TOWIE star, Pete Wicks has previously been open about his support for Autism. And while uploading a snap to Instagram last year of his nephew, Pete revealed his nephew has autism in a cute snap while wishing him a happy birthday.
Pete instagramed the snap and captioned it: "Happy birthday to my oldest nephew...proud. #AutismAwareness 👊🏼".
As somebody like myself who has autism, I believe being sectioned feels like being locked behind bars and being held like a criminal. As drastic as it sounds, that's how it feels for most us people with autism. Being detained within a small environment, being shut away from the outside world and being distant from your loved ones. It can be difficult for anybody who's being sectioned due to their mental health although is sectioning somebody with autism necessary?
Autism is not classified as a mental health problem, autism is classed as a lifelong developmental disability which is a condition, although some may have learning disabilities alongside this. Is being thrown into a mental health institute the correct way to deal with this? No, the neglect, misunderstanding and ignorance which then makes us even worse and could then lead to mental health problems.
I found that professionals at the psychiatric unit I was in, they often didn't seem as knowledgeable enough, it felt like they had little amount of training and all of a sudden they automatically label themselves as professionals. I felt I was misunderstood. Being injected, restrained and forced medication, we don't ask for that. We strive for a normal life and placing us under lock and key will guarantee make the situation a lot worse.
These professionals like to push your limits and purposely push your buttons to whichever way suits them. I was restrained several times and more than once I remember yelling at them to be more gentle and stop using too much force to the extent they could break my arm. They were smug about it all as well and would say something which would cause us to be even more angrier.
Those with autism often have a high vulnerability state and can get high sensory overload . I hugely believe It's easier for local professionals and services to lock somebody in a mental health unit than it is to give the correct treatment that's more suited to our needs. The worst scenario is that you get treated like animals.
Having autism and suffering with mental health are two different things which I've already proven, so does that mean that these should be categorically separated instead of being treated the same way as somebody who suffers with serious mental health. That's where I sometimes believe the misunderstanding comes into it within regards to the professionals, they presume that the ones with autism need the more drastic help like those who suffer with mental health. I'm not at all being biased, I'm stating that the facts that mental health and autism is not the same.
Passing through my School years wasn't the easiest times of my life, in fact, those were the most difficult. Having very few happy memories of my time during School, everyday you would see me causing trouble or often spending my breaks and lunchtimes in detention. Primary School was certainly the worst. It was rare you would see me enjoying my days.
Starting with Primary School; I had very little friends and a social life in me. It was difficult for me to make friends because I always enjoyed my own company too much, or further down the line, I would be falling out with my classmates. I was very easy to fall out with because If I didn't want to do something my way, I wouldn't do it. I would rather keep myself entertained although that wasn't always within good intentions. I would never go out of my way to bully others or make fun of anyone else but I would occasionally be quite rude to my peers and not see it as that. I was very disruptive in lessons and could never concentrate when doing my work. I would lose focus. Put me in a quiet room on my own and I would still get distracted.
Meltdowns were regular during School. I once totally trashed the headteacher's office whilst attending the leaver's school disco leaving everything in that room ruined. I was restrained by two teachers and excluded for weeks after that. Another time was when I put my hands around the teacher's throat. The worst thing about it was that the teacher was a female. I got excluded again and was on my very last warning. Although I was most certainly to blame for my terrible behaviour, I didn't know why I had been so naughty at school. Everyone presumed I was just a naughty child which was kind of what me and my family thought. Nobody knew I had autism or any disabilities. It was all just down to my apparent misbehaviour because I wasn't diagnosed until 6 years after School.
This is without the times where I would abscond from School. Mum had to come to School countless of times and when she'd arrive at School, mum would be chasing me outside the building pleading with me to come home and talk. One time in particular, I remember picking up a huge branch and threatening to hit somebody with it if they ever get in my way. Police had then be called to the School and I would be escorted back to school or home in a Police car kicking and screaming.
There was a mentor at School who I grew a great bond with. She was my anger management teacher. I was always in her office and went to her if their was any problems. There was a chill-out room and I would always go their to calm down if whenever I was feeling angry.
I was once verbally racist to another child at School because she had a different skin-tone. I was in a massive amount of trouble and I was always told it will go down on my tracking record. Without the misbehaviour and the naughty side of me, I was always still a sweet child, like butter wouldn't melt I call it. There have still been some good memories in School. It's just a shame that the bad kind of outweighs the good. I had a great bond with most of the teachers, always told I had a cheeky smile and was very polite when I want to be so, everyone says.
After receiving that all important diagnosis, a period of mourning follows as the family come to terms with the news. It can either be a positive or negative response but can often be seen as a negative.
Sometimes it has even been seen of families to grieve as much as a loss of their child. Though this may sound like a cliche but it’s a reality. Some parents may say that the child we imagined and dreamed of, as a family, is now suddenly replaced with a lot of uncertainties and big changes.
Parents could be in denial of the news that they have just been given. Angry, or even acceptance can come about. Although many parents will say that autism is unique in itself, though, they can also go through difficulties. Here are some steps that families can experience after the diagnosis stage...
Fear of the unknown
There are many different types of fear that can evolve throughout the first stage after getting the diagnosis. Parents may fear of the unknown of their child's future, fear of your own patience and emotional stress of dealing with your child's physical behaviour. Fearing that you have very little knowledge of autism. The most important thing is to do your research but don't get stressed by it. It will come naturally and you may self-learn through the experience of your own child as time progresses. All of this is completely normal. Every parent of an autistic child has to start somewhere, right?
Denial and acceptance
This is the stage that I'm sure has been the most common with families. The denial over the diagnosis. You can often see parent's struggling to accept the news. Parents may feel like they just don't want to accept it and then demand more answers when, in fact they just find it difficult come to terms with it. But this could take months to overcome, however, once the news have become slightly older, things will adjust and then becomes normal.
Final stage of overcoming
The final stage, that makes parents come together and accept, is a resolve to overcome. Families should then find hope and this point, they are ready to start afresh and take steps that are necessary to help their child recover.
Luckily me and my family came to terms with my diagnosis quite quickly. Although that I was a little shocked, I had soon came to terms with it and now I enjoy spreading awareness.
But not everyone is diagnosed at such a late stage, many people are diagnosed when they are small children around the age of 3-5. In this case, they should grow and eventually come to terms with it. It's never easy though no matter what age you are. When you are young, it seems the parents seem to struggle the most as they become more aware and informed about their child's autism.
Feel free to let me know your experiences and your thoughts in the comments below!
College can often be quite a difficult transition for those on the autism spectrum and of course for any student going through the same. There are so many new challenges, new people, and a whole new change of lifestyle to get familair with. But when you have autism, the adaption to college can be a full-bown nightmare.
Here, I'll be giving my personal tips and advice which should make your College life a little easier. These tips are great for any student going or specifically those with autism...
Stick to a familiar routine
We're all aware of those struggles when the holidays are over and it's time to get back into that routine. It's a change of getting used to and over a few days you will get back into the swing of things of course. Routine is a very important one for me personally. I dislike change and whenever my routine changes, that's when sparks fly and I get irritable so my mood changes dramatically.
A few days before I return to College after weeks off during the holidays, I make sure I try going bed earlier than usual the few days before it starts. This should help get you familar and back into a structure which you will get used to. You should then feel a lot better in yourself as well.
The past few days recently has been a nightmare for me when I've been getting back into the swing of everything. All of a sudden my attitude towards College changed and I was thinking of giving it all up completely. Then, I realised when things are going smoothly, I feel better agin. The first few days are the toughgest for most of us with autism.
Allow yourself breaks every so often
This is what I need to do more when my brain becomes too jumbled and it's on the near brink of shutting down. I'm always in front of a Computer screen when I'm at college so if I'm starring at the screen for too long, my eyes start to ache and I become irritable.
Ask your tutor or teacher if you can have a 10 minute break from what you're doing if necessary. Go have a wonder around or go grab a drink in the canteen. It really does make a huge difference. You'll come back feeling fresh and ready to get back to work.
Make use of your College planner and stay organised
If you ever feel like your head is about to explode with an overload of information, use your College planner or go buy one from a shop. Organising everything will make hell of a difference. Keeping everything jotted down will help you stay organised and you can refer back to anything whenever you need to if you ever get in a muddle because you've forgotten what your tutor tells you. But try not to overload yourself with major amounts of writing to do. All you need to remember is the most important things.
Make use of the help around you
The worse thing I have ever done when I'm at College is not asking for help when you're stuck with something. Learner support assistants are around you for a reason and you should use the free support offered. Don't leave yoursef in a pickle over something, find help and use it.
I used to be afraid to ask for help because I would get too embarrassed and I'd fear I'll get judged. Starting to ask for help is the best thing I've ever done. Anything big or small, don't be afraid to ask for some help.
Find a quiet room or safe place
If you don't have many friends and find it difficult to socialise or even if you're feeling stress, go find youself a quiet room and free youself from anything that's annoying you.
I like to have a safe place at College, if I want to be on my own, I'll go find an empty classroom to eat much lunch in or catch up with any work I need to do. Eating your lunch in a toilet cubical because you've got nowhere to hide is not healthy nor ideal (That's what I did once when I first started College) Taking yourself away from what's going on around you will make a massive difference. Always make time for youself and if you need to chill, then do it!
Those with autism know how tough it can be during the Christmas holidays. Feeling overwhelmed by the lead up to Christmas can eventually result in meltdowns, or in my case, major meltdowns. Anxieties play a huge part, as the period gets busier, it can become quite stressful for me and especially those around us.
This time last year was the most hard-hitting and unforgettable time of all where I spent my first Christmas in a psychiatric ward 300 miles away up country without my loved ones around me. Last Halloween was a nightmare and my biggest meltdown occured in my family home. After getting arrested, I experienced what feels like hell for the last 3 months of the year that followed up untill Christmas. Halloween was entriely my fault and I feel ashamed of my actions that night. 3 months that followed, I was on bail and not allowed to see my mum becauseof my bail conditions, I spent the whole of November and part of December in my dad's home alone across the road from me as I sit anxiously waiting to attend my bail at the police station some time onwards having to occupy myself staying in all day, most days. I was left with nothing to do and pretty much alone which of course wasn't good for my anxieties. I felt extremely depressed and not knowing whether I would be spending Christmas at home with mum and the rest of my family or elsewhere.
Unfortunately, my bail that I had to attend was pushed back and set for a later date, this happend on 3 occasions, leaving me questioning whether Christmas is cancelled for myself. My dad eventually returned from his holiday that he had planned for months. Having my social worker keeping a check up and popping in to see me every now and then.
Things then grew worse as the more I became depressed and worrying about what might happen to me when I attend my bail. I was home alone at a time when my dad was working and I felt my worst. I took a small overdose of my tablets that I found. I rang my dad and told him I had taken an overdose and that I regret it. The ambulance soon came to my flat and I went to hospital which was meant to be for just a few hours while they keep an eye on me. These few hours turned into overnight as professionals were 'apparently' concerned for my wellbeing. Staying in hosptal now for over a week, I was told I was going to be sectioned for my saftety even though my overdose was just a cry for help. I never intended to kill myself, It was just a quick, last minute thought that I had acted on.
These so called professionals and services who were meant to be there to support me were useless and made matters worse. They were still banging on about what happened on Halloween and I felt I've been punished enough already as they sectioned me. It was a week before Christmas day and nothing was getting any better and I knew I wouldn't be home for Christmas or I would of at least liked to have known I was close by to home for Christmas in my local hospital. Instead they forced me to be sectioned 300 miles away. My family were absolutely livid and in shock. They did the best they could to help make me stay in Cornwall for Chrsitmas but it seemed to have taken these professionals 3 whole months to do something about what happened on Halloween as they used my small overdose as an easy excuse for themselves.
It was now December 21st and I was on my way up to the hospital where I would be spending the next 4 weeks which felt like a prison. Restrictions everwhere on the secure unit, I knew this wasn't the right place for me. I was mentally stable, I knew it myself and my family knew it too. I had just made silly mistakes. I knew that my mum was doing her very best to get me home. She did everything she possibly could by writing her own reports and various complaints as well as contacting the newspaper and putting a story in there. (www.cornwalllive.com/mother-blames-social-services-autistic-son/story-28418830-detail/story.html)
My mum never even had time to pack me a bag as I left the hospital to go up country. I was put in an enviroment that would of made me even more anxious and depressed.
After spending the 4 weeks in the secure unit, It was January the 4th when I got my panel meeting after making an appeal against my section. A few hours of trying to convince the judging panel I was well enough, they finally allowed for me to be discharged. Even they didn't understand why I was there in the first place. My psychiatrists were doing the best they could to keep me there longer. How can physiciatrists think they know everything about me in a matter of weeks just going by a few documents? They didn't have a clue either.
Now that I was off section, I returned back to Cornwall. I spent the last two weeks at my sister's place as I wait patiently to attend my bail at the police station. These services obviously didn't do their job properly as they even held me on a children's ward at the hospital. If they had felt I was that much of a danger and a 'violent individual', why would I be allowed on a children's ward in the first place?
I attended court and received my consequence of my actions which were 9 months of working with the youth offending team. (presently, finished only 3 months ago) and of course I was allowed to live back at home again. I was thrilled that I could see my mum again after 3 whole months of no contact.
Now forwarding a year on from then, I am extremely happy that I'm now home for Christmas this year and that I can spend it with my family without anything getting in my way. This past year has flown by and I'm very proud to have come so far and acheive a lot of things in a year. This is my first ever Christmas without any blips or meltdowns! I can now say that everything has got a whole lot better and everything's finally on the up. Roll on Christmas 2017 in exactly 17 more days! I am so excited right now.
Nearly every year an anger incident breaks out at home, countless of times the police have been involved and end up arresting me due to my behaviour stepping above the out-of-control zone.
Some situations become worse than others or sometimes there will be a time of frustration when I can't do something right. I'm always like that. I like to be a perfectionist, If I can't do it right the first time, I'll carry on until I do it perfectly. Obviously things can't always be like that, So sometimes I need to stop and think to myself if it's worth putting the people around me in danger or myself at risk.
The question is; how to deal with that anger inside you and stop the situation getting seriously out of hand. It's time to stop it before it becomes too late and the damage strikes.
It's always still a learning curve for me, I'm always finding new strategies to help control my temper or look for ways to prevent a meltdown. so that's why I thought I'd gather some of my very own tips to share with you if you can often relate in to this in any way...
TAKE THOSE EXTRA FEW SECONDS TO THINK BEFORE YOU ACT
Is it worth it? Or can it be resolved quicker and easier than what you think? Always try to take that split second to think about your next move as it may lead to very serious consequences.
I've lost count of how many times this has happened to me. I always regret my actions after I've done something stupid. This could be something that may change your life forever whatever the situation may be. It's always best to think before you do something. The more split seconds you give yourself to think, the less you will lash out. Believe me, it does work!
ALWAYS TAKE A MOMENT TO REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU'RE LOVED
I always tell myself that I'm lucky to have a good support network around me. The same as anyone else.
When you think about the good things people have done for you, the more you appreciate life. The same goes for when you're in a heat of the moment situation and that split second counts to change your mind completely.
I get that when you're angry you find it hard to think about the things that make you happy, But this is exactly why it matters. Remembering the people who love and care about you the most, between doing something that you will regret will be the best thing you'll ever do, believe me.
DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING
If whenever you're in a situation where you want to literally blow any moment, take yourself away from the situation and do something that makes you feel happy. It's easier said than done but it really does work if you try.
For instance, I love blogging or writing in general, the times I have been extremely close to losing it are the times I feel better for making the right decision. You feel proud of yourself for dodging something that may get you into trouble. The moment you realise life's better when you're doing something you enjoy, is the time when everything feels great.
REMEMBER THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BECOME AND THE FUTURE YOU WANT
This moment depends on your future. What happens now, is the time it may affect who you become and the route you want to go down in life.
Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. It's good to feel ambitious and have aspirations so, think about your dreams and the career you want to have. It helps you to think positive.
I've always wanted to be a journalist because I enjoy writing. Think about how this move may affect your future and dreams to become whatever you want to be. I've said before in the past that I can see myself being in prison for most of my life because of the amount of times I've taken trips to the Police station. Quite literally! But it's my job to change that as life really is what you make it.
THINK ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH IN YOU
It's cool remembering how much your family care and love you but, think of those who have faith in you and think very highly of you.
Having this in mind will motivate you to make the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. For instance if you feel like you're certain that you're going to lash out at someone, try and address your actions appropriately and show those that you can be the better person and do it more maturely.
I've always expressed my love for raising awareness of autism as it's something I hugely enjoy doing. Not only is Autism very close to my heart, over the years my passion has turned into an interest and now I'm looking to turn it into a big ambition of mine to raise awareness and help improve people's understanding.
I've had an idea on ways I would like to earn money for myself in my spare time as I have a considerable amount of spare time on my hands when I'm not blogging.
Although I love blogging, It's also time to expand my ideas and think over the horizon and turn my passion and interest into a living for myself. A way I can put my passion into a business that will keep me occupied.
I've enjoyed my past two years of blogging and now I aim for moving up to the next step and have my own autism merchandise range. Having my own range of products dedicated to autism is something I've had in mind for a long time.
What I mean by having my own range of autism merchandise, Is creating my own range of clothing, stationery and printable resources and dedicate my time to design and create these things.
After months of having this idea in mind, I decided to start a fundraising page where people can join in and help me raise enough money to start my own business. The money raised will be used to help start my own business and will be the fund to buy all my necessary stock.
Putting my ideas into producing something unique is a project that will keep me entertained and dedicate my spare time to do.
I'm already designing my website to sell my merchandise. I'm really enjoy putting my ideas and planning this project.
Feel free to check out my fundraising page: https://www.gofundme.com/2bjstxtn
I would be hugely grateful for your help to make this a success. It's something I've wanted to achieve for as long as I can remember so to have all of your support would be incredible!
Do you have a student with autism in your classroom this year? Whether you are already a teacher or just starting out, I have some very useful tips on how to help your student become successful in your classroom.
If you're a parent of an autistic child and you're reading this then please feel free to give this a share with your child's teacher as it may help with the understanding and awareness teachers may not have.
Students with autism have a huge variety of abilities and challenges. Here are strategies that can help you succeed when teaching your student who's autistic.
Reduce Sensory Overload
Arrange your classroom and setting to reduce distractions, make as many adjustments as possible.
Many children with autism tend to tune out of focus when there's too much setting around the room, for example, too much colourful pictures can make them feel overwhelmed and distracted.
sounds, smells and sights. Are their usually noisy corridors, flickering lights or clicking noises? You could try turning off as little lights as possible to reduce brightness. Moving a noisy neighbour may help as it can normally encourage behaviour difficulties or add stress. Playing mellow music in the background may help reduce level of noise too. These are many ideas that should help.
Stick to more structured routines
Scheduling activities by making a plan or rota will help find it more comforting for your pupil to know what they have planned for the day. (Including when to have a break or playtime).
Use a visual timetable you can stick to the wall or a written version. Most schools probably have planners to arrange their lessons of the day. Although many autistic pupil's may find it easier without their own planner and have their teacher or Learner support assistant as a reminder. That way they don't become stressed when dealt with it on their own.
Use visual examples and demonstrations
Try using pictures or write instructions on the board to remind as that'll appeal to them more rather than tell them once and then they may forget. Difficulty processing information is often a challenge for students with autism. Visual reminders are always useful.
Talk less and give fewer worded instructions
Always make sure you pause for processing time. Some students may need as long as 30 seconds or more to process your instructions. Taking too much, particularly when a student is already upset, may increase anxiety or trigger a meltdown.
Use simple wording
Always avoid metaphors and sarcasm. “It’s raining hard outside.” is better than saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.” You may find your student looking outside for cats and dogs. Students with autism often take things quite literally.
Allow more breaks
Your student may need break time in their routine. Even five minutes in a quiet place, a walk up and down the hall, or listening to soft music can make a big difference, help him or her be ready to learn and help avoid meltdowns.
Special interests can be used to motivate your student
If your student is a massive fan of planes, you may have him or her adding and subtracting Planes. or measure how far from take-off to landing.
It's the little things that make teaching a lot easier for those with autism. Although I'm no expert. Autism is growing in awareness, it's important that it should be taught and teachers made more aware. Training teachers about autism will improve their awareness and understanding of how to address a situation or help make things easier.
Autism certainly has become a well recognised learning disability in recent years. There's become more understanding and a lot more awareness. It comes at no surprise that it's becoming very well recognised with at least 1 out of 68 children are living with some form of Autism.
It’s a very complex disorder that effects the child’s development. Autism is becoming more discovered in boys than girls which there are a few types of Autism categorised on the spectrum ranging from severe difficulties, to some children who may be incredibly high functioning.
Here, I have put together 10 most common signs of how to spot a child who's autistic. Some of these symptoms doesn't affect every single child because every individual is different from another.
Lack of eye contact
Children with autism often have difficulty with giving eye contact. This can sometimes change when growing older. Those who have trouble giving eye contact often have hard time using spoken language when communicating. Some children may often forget to give eye contact when in a social environment.
When I was younger, I found it difficult to give eye contact as I often found it intimidating. I couldn't gaze into somebody else's eyes become I felt uncomfortable making that social connection.
Covering ears with hands
This can be when blocking out too much sensory stimuli. When I was younger, I used to hate loud noises, I would cover my ears with my hands. Especially when my mum was hoovering the house. Also when I use a public toilet, I never use the hand dryers because the noise often makes me panic which it still does now. It's the same when I'm in a a busy crowd or I hear a fire engine go by. When we cover our ears, it's a way to lessen the loud noise.
Repeating words or phrases
One of the common tendencies of autistic people, we sometimes repeat what we've already heard in social situations. I often still do that now. If I'm talking to somebody, I mutter and repeat what they say to myself. This happens because the brain’s “language center” has difficulty coming up with language of its own, it copies what it hears from the world around it and uses it in place of original words and sentences of its own.
Walking on our toes
Walking on just your toes may be a learned habit. many children walk on their toes because it's just another unusual, unique way of doing something. Funnily enough, I always used to walk on my toes. I would walk from one end to another of the room showing my family what I could do. They would often cringe and be in shock at how it doesn't hurt. although as I've got, I haven't been able to do it as I'm heavier.
Having difficulty sitting still
This can be caused by hyperactivity and fidgety behaviour. When I'm sitting, I've always got a habit of fidgeting by moving my leg up and down. I think it's just a sensory comfort and something you don't always realise your doing. It's known to be named sensory-motor challenges.
Fixated on certain things
When we think about it developmentally, children look at objects that are visually pleasing – such as rotating objects (fans or wheels) I never used to play with toys. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, this was because I'd lose interest. If I was given a book, I'd be more fixated on a tiny picture in the corner rather than show interest on the whole entire book. I was into things more visually.
Trouble with change of routines
This one is the most I can relate to. I've always found staying in a familiar routine keeps me happier and feeling less annoyed. Lack of sleep, I struggle with that, I need my sleep or else I become moody which can turn into a meltdown. I'd rather stay to the same routine and pattern rather than swap and change.
Difficulty in talking
Some children may have trouble talking at all and would rather stay quite and keep themselves entertianed. This comes into socialising. Some may have lack of ability in that area and can only respond to symbols or actions when in situations. Many children struggle with making sounds to form words so they express themselves through giving signals to show how they're feeling.
It's officially Halloween night and nothing is going my way. I've spent all night upstairs in my bedroom trying to get some video footage for my blog. I was doing a bedroom tour but it just wasn't going right at all, nothing was.
After hours on end of recording my video which I dedicated all of my time to do which I really enjoyed because it was my first time of 'vlogging', as they call it. (video blogging). Then unfortunately all the footage I taken had accidentally deleted. I've wasted all my time to do something for absolutely nothing I thought. I'd put a lot of time into doing this for it all to be wasted!
I was furious although I was fine on the outside until I got down stairs into the kitchen. "Want anything for tea?" my mum said to me. I snapped at her as everything was just an overload of frustration. I told my mum furiously, "I've lost all of my video footage!".
Mum was busy and told me to calm down because I was becoming too overwhelmed with anxiety. I just wouldn't take it for an answer and I could feel myself getting more and more anxious until the moment I finally exploded and launched my drink across the kitchen.
Mum was annoyed and shouted 'what was all that for'. I was told to clean up the mess but I wouldn't. I refused. Mum was repeatedly telling me to clean it up and I threw all of my food across the floor as well.
That was it. By now I was angry that I could barely talk without shouting and I could feel myself sweating and feeling hot. I swiped a kitchen knife from the drawer, digging it into my skin as much as I could until it was bleeding.
'Why are you doing that for?!' mum said and told me to stop before I do some serious damage to myself.
At the time I wasn't listening and didn't care. shouting at the top of my voice, I screamed, 'I'm going to kill you!' 'Drop dead!'
Smashing absolutely anything in sight including, the kettle, picture frames on the wall. I was livid but I hardly had no reason to be. Stabbing holes into the kitchen surface, my mum's partner rang the police and demanded a cop to come as soon as possible. Without hesitation, I ran to the front door and chased my mum's partner up the path with the kitchen knife still in my hand intending to stab him.
Mum was outside to and pleading with me to calm down. I just wouldn't stop, I was raging.
Flashing lights were in sight and I could hear sirens pulling into the estate with the neighbours watching aside from their windows. It soon hit me and I was convinced I was going to prison for a very long time.
Running back into the house, I thought the damage is done and there's no going back. I slammed the kitchen knife onto the unit before running back outside. The cop shouted ' put the weapon down!'. I don't have anything on me I shouted.
The police officer came over and handcuffed me. I was petrified and it totally hit me what I had done. I was sorry for my actions but it was way too late for that whilst sobbing my heart out.
I was shoved into the back of the police van and all I could think is what happens now? It was gone 11pm since I was taken to police custody and got taken to my cell for the evening.
TO BE CONTINUED...
What were the first Autistic traits you noticed from a young age?
From the age of around 18 months old, you threw random and unpredictable tantrums. There was a great delay with your speech which lead to speech therapy later on.
Food intake was very poor when trying new foods you wouldn't attempt to taste and would roll it on your tongue and spit it out.
You would only wear certain materials and lightweight clothes or else you would feel restricted and uncomfortable which would then cause for me to becoming anxious.
I noticed you could only do wooden peg puzzles with help. You wouldn't play with any toys. I would lose interest because of the concentration span.
You couldn't role play. Anything new you tried you would lose interest within minutes.
Your social awareness was poor. You didn't play or communicate well which then led to bad behaviour.
The list is absolutely endless...
How was I different to other children of my age?
You were different because of your social awareness and understanding people's feelings, emotions and personalities.
You never understood when others were just being playful. Understanding humour and sarcasm was something you struggled with.
How has having an autistic child changed your life?
You have been very demanding and relied on me completely with everyday social skills.
Therefore, most of my time was dedicated to you. It affected my social life, family life and relationships.
It's always been a struggle but I believed that you had difficulties and dedicated myself to support and understand you.
What help from services have you received over the years?
When you were young and when I became a single parent, I struggled with your behaviour and contacted services for support.
The services wouldn't listen to me as a parent when I mentioned the noticeable behavioural patterns and repetitive traits which meant many years of repeating myself to them but not getting anywhere.
Certain services had wrongly accused it of being down to bad parenting rather than the right professionals looking into depth possibly diagnosing you with something which then would make my understanding clearer of why you behaved the way you did.
Do you believe I should have been diagnosed a lot sooner than 2012?
Yes definitely as certain situations would not have arisen to the great extent they had and your social awareness could of been helped with sooner.
What do you find to be the greatest challenge of all?
This would be fighting for what I believed was wrong with you and continuously battling with services to asses you appropriately.
Describe how you felt whilst I was sent 300 miles away for a short period of time to receive professional treatment?
I was completely heartbroken, angry and fearful for how this would affect you.
I'm so used to being with you that I felt very lost and scared of what the future may of held.
I didn't think you needed to be sectioned under the mental health as I don't think your autism was taken into account.
I spent endless of conversations with the mental health team explaining my views of what areas you struggled with the most which were repetitive and obsessive behaviours which resulted with you suffering with anxiety and then meltdowns.
What advice would you give to other parents who are going through a similar experience?
If you believe your child is showing traits of autism, always voice your concerns repeatedly to services and ask for assessments to be correctly made by professionals. You should also do plenty of research on autism so you can understand yourself what difficulties your child faces.
Did you ever doubt my interest of blogging wouldn't last as long as it has?
Yes I did because throughout your childhood you've lacked in concentration and have been very obsessive and flippant when deciding to do something that interests you. You find it easier to give up and start something else which then becomes less interesting and give up again.
What are your thoughts on my blog?
Your work is very inspirational. You've finally found something you've stuck at and enjoy doing but most of all you've proved that you are very talented and this is certainly what you are good at.
I have noticed that you find it easier to express yourself through your blogging but at the same time, have grown to have a greater knowledge and understanding of the disabilities you face daily which has proven to be beneficial with how you've matured with age.
Well done. Keep it up.... I'm very proud!!
First of all I would like to start off with a massive thank you to everyone who took part in my raffle and to everybody who generously donated alongside.
If you wasn't aware of what I had done for charity, I hosted a 5-day raffle fundraising for National Autistic Society. I'm hugely pleased with how smoothly the raffle went because I was hesitant at first and very nervous as to how It might go. This is the very first time I have done something like this for charity which I'm very proud of.
As it was Autism Awareness Week, I wanted to do something that I would enjoy and keep me entertained throughout the Easter Holidays. I felt that fundraising for Autism would be a fantastic way of doing something I would be proud of and to show my support.
I'll be honest, I haven't really done anything for charity so as it was my first time, I knew that helping a very worthy cause would be within my best interests considering I have autism too. I really enjoy knowing I've achieved and supported something which is very close to my heart. Helping out and supporting the community is very important to me because it shows you care.
Altogether I raised a fair and decent amount of £350! I am very happy with the end result considering I had set a small target of £200 so to have gone over my target was a complete bonus.
In the future, one of my goals is to do more for charity as it's very rewarding. So, you can certainly expect a new raffle next year.
I didn't manage to fill every raffle number although I suppose it's the donations raised that counts. I'm very thankful for everyone's support and encouragement. Congratulations to the winners too! I hope you're very pleased with your prizes.
It's safe to say I am hugely impressed with my result.
You've all been incredible which I cannot appreciate enough.
I hope you all enjoyed it and I look forward to next year's already!
Some time ago I announced I was going to work on a new extra feature alongside my blog. That new feature was my Autism Q&A.
It maybe something you've all forgotten about due to the fact I had trouble adding it into my little schedule which College takes up most of my time. I've now decided I want to try again seeing as I've got more time on my hands!
Each week, I'm going to be doing a Q&A on Autism where you can ask me questions for help and advice. It's similar to the section you'd find at the back of a newspaper where you'd find the Dear Coleen column if you were looking in The Mirror Newspaper. I'm going to be offering my advice on anything to do with Autism!
I've wanted to do this for a very long time as I think it's important that there's help and support around that people can use. You can ask me any questions at all on Autism. If you would like to know more or even want some advice from an autistic perspective.
I'm not an expert however, I have huge experience considering I'm autistic myself.
I want to help and support people as it's massively important to me. Autism is often misunderstood and something people are not aware of enough. I want to help change the stigma around autism and help people have better understanding.
You can sign up to my weekly Autism Q&A which you'll find on my blog's homepage. You'll receive it once every week!
If you have any questions about Autism & if you'd like to feature in my Q&A column then feel free to get in touch with your questions as I would love to help!
You can either tweet me your question on Twitter using the hashtag above or you can simply email me! - email@example.com
I also accept questions in the comments below....
Can't wait to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!
Yesterday evening, I managed to sit down and watch the new BBC One drama - The A Word. If you don't have a clue what It's about then let me tell you...
It's a new eight-part series which delivers a clear-insight to a close family which the parents discover their young son has got Autism. It's only the first episode however, already the family don't want to believe he's on the spectrum. They're in denial and don't want to believe this situation they're faced with. They don't want to hear the word Autism in their home which in upcoming episodes they're sure to come to terms with their son's diagnosis and understand it more.
In the first episode which aired last Tuesday on BBC One, the parents knew their was something different about Joe which of course they didn't want to believe it. As the family come together, they soon realise something different due to the way Joe communicates and behaves... (That's all I'm going to give away)...
Watching the series, my mum couldn't believe how similar this was going back to when I was growing up as a child. This including, the tantrums, choosing not to interact with others of similar ages, not understanding other's feelings etc.
I feel I can relate to this in a lot of ways. The similarities are very interesting to see. In the first episode, the young boy, Joe couldn't or didn't know how to put together a jigsaw puzzle which is very similar to me too. I still don't understand how to do jigsaw puzzles.
I watch my nephew and niece do one together now and I'm amazed at how they can put one together, I don't know how to even do the most simplest jigsaw now, let alone do one by myself. I also haven't got the determination to do it because I'd find it boring and get distracted too easily. It wasn't something I enjoyed because I simply didn't know how to.
Joe also enjoys his music. It's almost like he can't live without it. Growing up I was exactly the same. I was a huge fan of Avril Lavigne. You could say I was obsessed. I would listen to the music all day long and dance. I feel music was the only distraction to my situations and it still is a huge part of my life.
The third, similarity me and my mum picked up on was the interacting with others of similar ages. Socialising isn't my strongest skill. I didn't get invited to birthday parties because some people knew I was different in the way I behaved or acted in general. I would rather keep myself amused and do my own thing. I still struggle with that now, I enjoy my own company which I don't have many friends because I usually fall out with them over the silliest situations.
I remember having a friend who I grew up with in my area where I lived. I would always asked if we were still friends or asked have I done anything wrong? because I didn't understand others feelings, they would get frustrated because I would repeatedly ask them regularly. Again, I'm still the same now. I don't mind having no friends because I choose to keep myself occupied, I enjoy it.
The similarities, I'm sure are hugely common traits of autism, It comes under social awareness and of course behavioural difficulties.
It's great to be able to watch something on the TV that myself and my family can relate to. I hugely believe theirs not enough awareness of Autism. The series has become very popular which I've seen amongst social media, Facebook & Twitter. I'm glad there's a programme I can relate to and I hope it educates people about autism as It's certainly needed. Some people presume that a child with autism is just a naughty child and it's natural when they don't obviously know anything about autism. It is frustrating when people don't understand you.
I think The A Word is a greatly impressive performance and very well written and directed. I hope it spreads the awareness and more importantly make people more aware. Or help people think more positively of autism!
You can catch The-A-Word on Tuesday nights at 9pm On BBC One
As you should all be aware that April is officially Autism Awareness Month! So I would like the chance to reveal something that I'm going to be proudly doing to raise money for AUTISM!
From April 2nd - April 7th I'm going to be doing my own little thing to help raise money for National Autistic Society. I'm going to be hosting a huge 5-day raffle over on my Facebook Page where you could be in with the chance of winning some pretty awesome prizes.
Ghost Perfume Set
£25 Next Voucher
Nivea Gift Set Bundle
From Saturday 2nd April, I win run a 5 day give-away on my Facebook Page with these fantastic prizes.
It's only £3 per number to enter each give-away on each day, all money received will be proudly donated to National Autistic Society!
Alternatively, If you'd prefer not to enter the raffle - All small donations alongside would be very appreciated & thankfully received!
I hope you're all excited as I am? It's going to be awesome!
Starts Saturday 2nd April
My Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/marcusmitchellofficial/?ref=hl
Verbally abusing anybody is wrong let alone harshly abusing those with disabilities or severe learning difficulties.
Something that has been bothering me lately more than anything are those who are publicly targeting Katie Price's son Harvey who has severe learning disabilities. Harvey has autism which also affects me but not as severely. As somebody myself who has autism, I often find it can be a struggle to be accepted within our society. It's often misunderstood by the public who aren't aware of Autism. However, it's still absolutely no excuse to target anybody who lives with any sort of disabilities.
How on earth can anybody have the right to mock people with learning disabilities is beyond me. It gives a damaging effect and more importantly increases their vulnerability. We should be accepted within our society, we're all human so why should we have to feel less accepted by those who don't have any clue on what It's like to live with disabilities.
I am hugely supporting Katie Price who's campaigning this matter and publicly shaming those who feel It's okay to mock people with disabilities or anybody with any sort of illness in that case. I am shocked by the amount of messages of abuse I read on a daily basis on Social Media, I actually feel considerably embarrassed to breathe the same air as those who think it's acceptable and hilarious to cause nothing but misery to especially humiliate a young child.
What annoys me the most is people using this as an excuse to gain more publicity and popularity including the majority of those on Twitter. Trolls who think it's clever when they're only being spiteful and showing no respect for our society whatsoever. It doesn't mean you become more accepted into our society, It makes you a disrespectful individual. Public discrimination should be made illegal and face punishment for excluding and making fun of people who are vulnerable and more importantly, defenceless of themselves.
As somebody like Katie Price being in the public eye and especially as a parent of a child with disabilities, I can't imagine the effect it's having on her emotionally and of course the family too. No parent wants to see their child being publicly harassed and abused. It must be uncomfortable to witness. It's absolutely unnecessary and understandably incredibly hurtful. Some say she's using this to gain media attention which I'm sure is ridiculously untrue. I'm sure Katie wouldn't use her child to gain media attention let alone want any of this abuse to carry on.
Welcome to my very first giveaway!
I'm so happy to be hosting this giveaway as I feel I need to give you all something in return of the constant support you've all given me throughout my journey of blogging I thought what better way to host my very first giveaway?!
So here goes! ...
I have two best-selling books associated with Autism to giveaway to one of you lucky readers.
For your chance to win these two fantastic books - Head over to my official Facebook Page to enter: https://www.facebook.com/marcusmitchellofficial/
~Competition closes 10th March 16 ~
It's been studied that young people with autism struggle with school life due to social activity and sensory discomfort.
Children with autism often find it difficult to maintain a social life due to lack of social awareness and interaction with peers. This accordingly affects 88% of autistic students across the UK.
Not only does this involve lack of social awareness, sensory discomfort can often become an issue within students time spent at School. This can include, concentration within a classroom environment, passing through corridors with loud noise and general anxieties within a school environment.
Throughout my time of being at school, I struggled most in lack of social awareness. This would lead to refusing to attend school because of my anxieties. I would often feel pressured into certain activities I didn't want to co-operate in. Although it was the majority of social awareness, I felt excluded because I didn't have as many friends as a typical teenager should have. It became a huge deal for me. I felt there was too much pressure on me. I wanted to interact with peers but I didn't know how to.
I unfortunately missed the majority and most important years of school because for me it was becoming to much to take on and I didn't want to put myself through any more misery than I already was.
The reasons for this was because I was lacking friends. I struggled to make friends because I'm not good at tackling social situations. I had no social skills whatsoever.
In result of me missing a huge gap of school, I've attended short stay Schools which understand the situation you're in and is specially designed to help with this. I've also spent a short period of time doing home-schooling which was helpful because it was one-to-one which there was no need to interact with others. It eased the pressure because I was learning in my home environment.
Sometimes I'd often imagine what School would be like for me if social awareness didn't get the better of me. I missed the opportunity to do my GCSEs. I've come away with no exam grades however I know myself that doesn't mean I'm not clever. It just means I didn't have the ability to take on School due to my autism diagnosis although I've always been told that I've certainly got the mental capacity to achieve this.
At the moment I go to College. I'm studying Media & Photography to gain qualifications. My social awareness has improved, I've got a bundle of friends at College. To help with my social awareness I have a Learner Support Assistant which eases the added pressure and stress that occurs in my days of studying.
It's been surveyed that seven out of 10 autistic adults have been in contact with the police due to outbreaks within family homes.
Police officers should be more aware of the sensitivity of an autistic person due to the lack of awareness and understanding.
As somebody like myself who is autistic, I've been in many situations involving the Police due to losing my temper within my family home. On more than one occasion me and my family feel I've been mistreated. I've had officers use bad language when confronting me which can then become a trigger point . I feel it's unacceptable and shouldn't be tolerated.
I often feel intimidated by police officers because of there lack of awareness, I feel they need to understand us more and treat us differently in order for us to respond to the treatment more positively.
In my experiences, I've overheard conversations that the police were deciding whether to tazor me which I feel would of made the situation worse by myself responding more negatively.
The police don't always understand that we don't understand metaphors. I often get confused the way the police word sentences, in order for us to respond, complex and easy language should be used.
The sound of loud noise and sirens could be enough to change how the young person reacts, this should be more aware of as it can worsen anxieties and can become more stressful.
I remember being the age of twelve when the police first became involved. It was the first experience of being placed in a cell for many hours and taken into custody. That was stressful. Knowing that they didn't understand me made matters worse. Nobody should be placed into a cell at that age.
Only if there was an alternative to this and it was dealt more in the best way to suit me and my needs.
This afternoon I was browsing through the online news of The Mirror Online and I came across an interesting article. The article quoted 'Speed of autism diagnosis must improve, experts say'. Children with autism are having to wait an average of three-and-a-half years before diagnosis.
In my experience it was a long shot before my diagnosis of autism. This may vary for most people, It may be quick or it maybe a very slow process. Going through at least 12 years of my life it had taken these 'experts' to finally diagnose me. I haven't had the diagnosis for as long as others although I should of had it quite sooner. I really believe that if I was diagnosed a lot sooner, way back when I was at least 7, my family would of had knew what was wrong with me or at least had a better understanding to help me. I have to admit and be as honest as I can about the services that supported me as they were useless and very slow and still are to this day. In the meantime as things were growing worse in my behavour which was tearing my closest family apart, it finally gave them a kick up the backside when my mum started to chase them up and admit to them that they weren't doing a good enough job. They were dragging their heels.
In the future to stop this from happening and to prevent other children like myself, they should be on the job and getting the final diagnosis because if this isn't the case then more and more families are going to lose trust with services and it's going to become an issue with more leading and ongoing suffering. Also If if I was diagnosed sooner than being section by the mental health act in 2012 then I wouldn't of gone through as much trauma and things would be a lot different and easer to understand
It wasn't easy at all to be fair living on a psychiatric ward but I have definitely learnt a lot from that experience.
I remember the evening in January 2012, where I had a huge meltdown and everything went from bad to worse. I can't really remember what the situation was all about to be fair but I know it was something simple that triggered it off.
The moment I was told I was going to be amitted to The Priory unit in East Sussex was heartbreaking and the thought of not seeing my family was worse.
I can't believe that all this happened in one night, It is even exhausting just thinking about it!
I left very late in the evening at around 12.00am. It was so hard saying goodbye to my family. I tried to be brave. It didn't properly sink in until It was time to get in the ambulance to be driven off to the place.
I was wiping away my tears throughout th whole journey and listened to my music the whole time. I arrived at around 6.00am in the morning unaware where I was and felt really lonely!
I was tired and exhausted as I didn't even shut an eye on the way as there was too much going through my head.
I entered the buiding and thought this will be the last time I breathe fresh air for a while. It was honestly like a prison!
As soon as I got my room sorted and settled in, I was used to the place very well and thought It wasn't a bad place after all.
It was like the same old day everyday. It was boring but It's definitely an experience I'd never forget!
It was like I was shut away from the outside world and had no idea what was going on in this world execpt watching the news obviously, on the television. They kept us entertained as much as they can and hosted small activities everyday like games, all the fun stuff. We would also be allowed to go out for a drive so we get at least a bit of fresh air.
It was still very frustrating though because It was really hard getting through day by day because it seemed like the days would last forever. I spent 3 months there altogether!
I made so many young people like me, they were so inspirational and hard to see them go through everyday difficulties like me.
We were all like a little family really even though we haven't known each other for very long!
It was difficult controlling my temper in there, the only thing I could do was take my frustration out on myself. I would self-harm. Scratch my skin with staples out of magazines until I draw blood.
I would get that emotional I didn't know what to do with myself! It was so tough because I thought it wasn't worth living.
Talking to the psychiatrists was hard but It definitely helped in terms of controlling it. They gave me loads of strategies and alternatives to deal with my anger, you could call it anger managment I suppose.
Then there was my OCD side of it all. It was very tough controlling my thoughts I couldn't help but think about one staff memeber in there. I built this really great bond with a particular staff member. His name was Simon. I don't know what triggered it but I saw him as a fatherly figure to me in there and I could talk to him if I was ever upset.
Then of course, a little obsession started. I could never get his name out of my head. I started pestering him and talking to him a lot. Then It kind of got a little more worrying. Because I seen him as someone to look up to, I then thought about what If he could adopt me. That idea never left my head! I know it sounds strange but I couldn't help this as it was a part of my OCD. It got a little over the top to the point I was embarrased to be around him and got very shy.
I remember an incident when I was in a huge tantrum. He was blocking my way so I gently pushed him out of my way, but very lightly. Then he came running up to me and pushed me over. Sometimes I think whether it was an accident or purposley but it resulted in me falling over and splitting my head open on the door frame. There was blood everywhere!
I had to be taken to A&E to have the little split on my head glued. There is still a scar there on my head to this day!
I blamed him for it and wanted to make a complaint but them I felt very guilty so I dropped the idea.
Then everything went back to normal after that day. It was very hard not having any contact with my family so I was allowed to make a phone call to them everyday. I really missed my dogs. They are two Jack Russells, named Slumpy and Jageo. Mum got them to bark down the other end of the telephone so I could hear them.
Music kept me going through the journey, whenever I felt sad, I just stuck my earphones in my ears and focus on the lyrics to keep my mind off everything.
It was definitely an experience I will never forget! I still saw my parents every now and then. They would drive up to East Sussex from Cornwall just to visit me for a few hours! I was always so excited and happy!
One incident I will never forget and never want to go through again was when I had a major meltdown and all hell broke lose because I missed m family so much! I threatened to end my life there & then which is very sad. I had to be physically restrained and had an injection to calm me down. Which hurt but calmed me down straight away because they enjected some form of liquid to stop me from tensing so I would just shut down.
Most nights was very restless and I had a lot on my mind. I had once taken sleeping pills just before I went to bed which didn't agree with me at all. I woke up in the night and was halluciating. I could visually see tigers wandering aroud my room and snakes around my bed which was very distressing and scary!
The psychiatrists finally diagnosed me with OCD and Aspergers. I should of been diagnosed previously but I didn't get the help I needed because not many services would bother with me, they were absoltely useless!
I couldn't wait to get home and get my life back on track. When I arrived home I finally felt refreshed and was so glad to get my freedom back!
I missed my family so much, I couldn't of done this without them all. They are the biggest supporters in my life and I love them all so much!
On the journey home, It was a special day because my neice, Lacey was born. It was around 2pm so we went straight to Royal Cornwall Hospital and that was when I fell in love with my first little neice. It was so overwhelming and exciting. She was very tiny and so perfect! I will never forget that day!
When I finally arrived home, my mum surprised me witha new decorated room. It was a uninon jack/London theme. I was absolutely thrilled!
I definitely feel like I'm in a much better place now but still get those ups and downs but who doesn't? nobody can live a perfect life can they? ...
In the near future, I would love to go back there again for a flying visit!