Julie Ellsmoor, Hoylake, Wirral UK – writes a witty, humorous and incredibly down to earth blog about her son John, 26 who has severe autism. Her blog ‘Close Encounters of the Autistic Kind‘ which she started writing in January 2013 has received worldwide recognition and is read in over 50 countries.
Julie describes her blog as:
‘These are my scribblings of the madness and mayhem that my bright, funny and mischievous son and I encounter, on his weekends home.’
Autism Daily Newscast had the great pleasure in contacting Julie and we asked her why she decided to start writing about her life with John. She told us that she wanted to write about and share,
“the fun and enjoyment we experience as a family; however I did not want to take anything away from the serious side of his life.”
Julie did worry at the time about people thinking that she was being too light hearted and was not giving enough respect to the challenges associated with having autism. She further explains:
“I always try to find humour in every situation, it makes to tough times easier to bear.”
Julie started to use Facebook as an outlet for her writing and posted short posts about their weekends together.
“I was amazed at how many people started commenting and saying they were looking forward to the next instalment. That gave me the confidence to go ahead with the blog idea.”
We asked Julie to share with us her early years with John. Julie told us that when John was 3 months old he had a seizure and had several more over the following weeks, her world suddenly “exploded into a thousand painful fragments ” At this point in time Julie had never seen a seizure and observed that John was not using his right hand side of his body, and she knew instinctively that something was wrong.
Julie told us:
“Over the following two years John’s seizures became much worse until he was having 12 seizures a day and the same at night. No anticonvulsants worked and it was clear he was in trouble.”
An MRI scan showed a benign lump in his brain known as Cortical Dysplasia, which Julie described as “where the brain doesn’t form properly and kind of gets into a knot.” This resulted in his epilepsy and paralysis.
John had an 8 hour operation just before his 3rd Birthday to remove the lump which was successful.
They were told that his seizures would be reduced to one or two a day. To date he has not had any further seizures and does not take any anticonvulsants.
Julie told us that John had become very hyperactive and that she and John’s dad noticed that John’s behaviour wasn’t the same as their friends’ children. He had stopped speaking and his behaviour had become obsessive.
All those years ago professionals were reluctant to put an ‘Autism’ label on a child as there was no provision for Autism at that time.However Julie and John’s dad actively sought a diagnosis as they wanted to get the correct support for John. They wanted to access the support and services of Wirral Autistic Society but in order to do so they needed a diagnosis.
However John did not receive a diagnosis of Autism until he was 11 although he attended Stanley Special School from age 5 which Julie told gave “the very best support and education” as well as teaching her how to be the mother of an autistic child.