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.
Part one of this interview can be read here
We asked Paddy-Joe to describe what life was like growing up. He told us:
“I suppose, like it does for everybody, growing up had its ups and downs. Obviously I had a lot of challenging behaviour, like the examples my Mum has said. I have to be honest, I don’t really remember back before I had my diagnosis. The only thing I do remember is how stressful I found school – stressful is an understatement. I would feel physically ill every day before I went in, and do anything I could to get out of going. I came out of school when I was around seven to be home educated and was diagnosed with autism two years later.”
Paddy-Joe continued to tell us that nobody really knew that he had autism and his friends were generally accepting of him.
“But it is not like I had an unhappy childhood or anything; things were good, just more difficult because of the autism.”
We were very interested to find out more about the books that they had written. They are ‘Create a Reward Plan for Your Child with Asperger Syndrome’ and ‘Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions through Everyday Transitions. Small Changes-Big Challenges,’
Paddy-Joe told us that the idea behind the books was to share the techniques that they had used which made life more manageable.
Jane explained that the Reward Plan they created for Paddy-Joe was specifically geared for a child with autism.
They co-wrote both books as a family and the feed-back that they got from readers Jane told us was amazing.
We asked both Jane and Paddy – Joe if they had a message for families who have just received an autism diagnosis
Paddy-Joe told us:
“I think the first thing I would say is not to worry about it. This might sound a bit silly as it probably feels fairly daunting at the moment, but the key thing to remember is that just because somebody has autism, doesn’t automatically mean that their life is going to be miserable.”
He then adds:
” Also, remember this; you don’t want to change your child; some people tell you that certain autistic behaviours are entirely worthless and should be removed if possible – ignore those people, they don’t know what they are talking about. Take it from someone who has dealt with autism for nearly nineteen years – every piece of autistic behaviour has a reason and a meaning behind it.”
“…your autistic child is the child you were meant to have.”
“Take a deep breath and know that having a child with autism is not the end of the world – it is the gateway in to a whole new world.”
She then says to learn all the facts you can about autism from agencies such as the National Autistic Society (NAS) and expert authors in the field such as Tony Attwood.
Jane also adds that it is important to gain advice from autistic people themselves, by reading and researching books and blogs that they have written as they are the true experts.
“always try to look to your child`s strengths, and try not to compare them with a typically developing child – this is pointless and can cause unnecessary pain for you as parents.”
She also adds as a final point:
“Know that the highs and lows of living with autism can be very intense – so try to take care of yourself as well”
Jane ends by telling us that Paddy- Joe has embraced his autism; and shows this by writing, blogging and working to help others.
Her final words are:
“Our priority has always been to equip him with the skills needed to` get by` in the neuro-typical world, in order to keep him safe, constantly aware that the day will come when we are no longer around to protect him.”