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.