Tom, 29 from South Wales, UK, plans to ‘sleep on the streets for a week’ in London, to raise money for famines with autistic children. He wants to highlight the need and importance of early intervention therapies for young children on the autistic spectrum. Tom, who is a manager in the adult social care sector, has a son Jack, 3, who was diagnosed with ASD in September this year. Tom shared the diagnostic process with Autism Daily Newscast.
“Between 12-18 months I knew something wasn’t right. His speech was delayed and our nursery would feed back that while other kids would be sitting in a circle and singing etc. He would be daydreaming out of the window. Through some very tough non-verbal years my son was finally diagnosed on September 11th, 2013 age 3 and a half.”
Tom goes on to explain how Jack was diagnosed.
“He was diagnosed via a multi-disciplinary panel which was medically led. We were not happy about this at all. Four professionals diagnosed him, (Educational Psychologist, ASD advisory teacher, speech therapist and paediatrician) but only one professional present had met him, and that was only once. Only the speech therapist had autism expertise but had never met him.”
Previous to Jack’s diagnosis the family had been informed by their paediatrician that Jack showed autistic traits. Due to this he was placed on a waiting list for speech and language therapy but the family were informed that there was a 6-8 month waiting list. It was at this point that Tom decided to seek early interventions for his son privately. Tom told Autism Daily Newscast,
“We hired a private speech therapist costing £55 an hour and a PECS specialist at £30 an hour. This was a massive strain on us and my wife and I worked a lot of hours to fund it. Before this my son had no words and no eye contact. 8 months later he craves eye contact and is using many more words! By the time we saw the NHS speech therapist we were already 6 months ahead of them. So although we were offered services by the NHS their waiting times are ridiculously long.”
This is what gave Tom the idea to raise funds to support families in need of early intervention but who were unable to fund the services themselves. Tom continues,
“I always had the idea that I’d like to raise money for families in my position but I didn’t want to give money directly to large charitable organisations. I wanted to do something extreme; something people would talk about.”
Tom has the backing of many specialists in the autism profession who have offered their services at a reduced rate to the families who will be helped by the money raised. Tom explains
“Many are charging me a reduction in fees to offer private therapy on a weekly basis for one year, this is due to the project being dangerous and impacting upon my mental health”.
Tom’s campaign can be found at www.justgiving.com/local/project/alone-in-London
On twitter @weekonthestreet