Trafford, Manchester – ASK-PERGERS? Is a mother and son team who co-authored 2 books, run a Facebook and twitter site and provide an online advice service to both individuals and families who live with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The information they offer is both from a mother’s perspective of raising a child on the autistic spectrum and a young man’s unique viewpoint of having Asperger’s Syndrome.
Autism Daily Newscast were delighted to have the chance to ask Paddy – Joe about the concept of ASK -PERFERS? which was fully launched in September 2013.
“The idea of ASK-PERGERS? is that it is a free on-line information service where you can go to get advice, either from somebody with Asperger’s (myself) who has worked through, and is continuing to work through a lot of the challenges that come with Asperger’s, or from my Mum, who came up with three or four separate techniques to help me with the things that I find difficult”
Paddy–Joe, 19 then continued to say that they realised there was a huge amount of information out there that they found interesting and how they wanted to share their opinions as well as hearing other people’s views. This is how the ASK – PERGERS? blog started.
We were interested to find out what life was like during those early years and what inspired them to write their books. Jane told us:
“Paddy-Joe was a very happy baby and toddler, reaching all of his `milestones` really early, for example, he walked at nine and a half months, which is really unusual for someone with dyspraxia. He could turn the pages of cardboard animal books and `find the tiger` etc. when he was only nine months old, and he could read by the time he was three.”
Jane explained that she home educated Paddy-Joe and that this was the best decision that they ever made:
“Around age three to four Paddy-Joe began to have what we called `out-bursts` – punching, kicking, biting, scratching, pinching, throwing things at me, hitting me with things, spitting, screaming, breaking things – he would attack me several times a day and these outbursts seemed to come from nowhere.”
She tells of how upsetting it was to see him so distressed and that his nature was usually so gentle.
She explains that when Paddy – Joe was 7 she and her husband separated although he was and still is a fantastic dad. Paddy-Joe also didn’t sleep through the night until he was 10 and only from 3am – 6am and he had to sleep in Jane’s bed.
It is no surprise then that Jane was completely exhausted.
Paddy-Joe was diagnosed just before his was 9 with Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette`s Syndrome, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.
Jane told us that his diagnosis was a relief:
This is when Jane came up with the idea of creating a Reward Plan based on positivity for Paddy-Joe, and that in doing so the frequency, duration and severity of outbursts that he had reduced by 70 %
Autism Daily Newscast was interested to know if family and friends were supportive during this time in their life:
“Throughout Paddy-Joe`s childhood he only really had contact with my parents. They were very supportive and continue to be so. I only told one or two friends about Paddy-Joe`s autism diagnosis and to be honest, they just didn’t get it – they tried, but I know that they had no idea (and still have no idea) of the struggles that we faced.”
Jane admits that this may be partly her fault as she didn’t like discussing personal things about Paddy-Joe with other people, and one of the reasons why she used pseudonyms for their books.
Jane didn’t tell people because she knew how patronising people could be to those who have a learning disability. She also added:
“I knew that if anyone said they felt sorry for Paddy-Joe for having autism, or worse, felt sorry for me because I had a child with autism, I would probably have forgotten all of my pacifist ideals and killed them on the spot!”
We asked Jane if she received any support during this time. She told us that they did eventually receive support from a psychologist and a speech and language therapist, although they had to wait two years for occupational and physiotherapy.
Jane told us that she is not a fan of support groups:
“I don’t like the term `support` because it only implies negative things about autism – and I have always found that the nice people are shouted down by the dominant ones, who think that only their voice matters.”
Part 2 of this interview can be read here tomorrow