As well as being a teacher, research scientist and clinical scientist Liz has also managed to find time to write her first book, ‘Autism and the World According to Matt’. The book is a collection of stories spanning Matt’s autism journey from child to adulthood.
Liz talks openly in her book of how she was told that Matt would need to be institutionalised.
‘In the doctor’s next breath he recommended institutionalizing my son, adding he would be too tough for me to raise and that didn’t understand how difficult ti would be on my family.’
Autism Daily Newscast was very interested to learn more about Matt and of how Liz has helped and enabled him to reach his full potential.
We told Liz that the stories within her book gave a wonderful insight into the world of autism. We asked Liz what gave her the idea to put all of her blogs spanning 25 years into a book.
Liz told us that she had actually wanted to write the book first and that the blogs were a way in which to get started. She wanted to keep the memories she had from vanishing. The whole idea had always been the book.
“I have wanted to write a book since the very beginning, when I knew the prognosis on my son was all wrong. I thought, “People need to know that all that robot- unable to think stuff is all wrong” and I started to document, save evaluations, drawings, homework, etc – all because I wanted to write the book.”
When reading the book Liz’s optimism and her ‘anything can be achieved in life’ outlook pour from every page. It is very much a life story of how autistic individuals can achieve and contribute to society if given the correct support and tools in which to do so.
It also seems that having a sense of humour helps.
What is also made evident is that Liz fought for what was best for Matt. We asked her if there was any doubt in her mind about what she was doing.
Liz frankly told us:
“I had my weak moments and days where I doubted myself and my ability to get him where he needed to be ,all those moments of “what if”, What if I wasn’t giving him enough? What if I was doing it wrong? Those days, thankfully, were few and far between as I really did believe in myself enough to know there was more to Matt than the doctors thought.”
Liz though knew her son better than anyone and she told us:
“I never doubted him. I never doubted Matt. It seemed quite clear to me that he wanted to learn – as much as he could, when I watched all those experiments with water and trajectories. In my heart I knew Matt could achieve all he wanted because he was open to learning.”
Liz explains that the hardest part was getting Matt to feel comfortable enough within himself so that he could accept he was different.
“His self-esteem needed to be through the roof to make him feel like he could do it – whatever “it” was. Even at 28 years old I am still helping him build and keep his self-esteem. Praise, praise and more praise.”
Liz goes on to explain about her son’s fragility in that it would not take much for him to lose it by hearing an angry voice or meeting a mean stranger.
“I think for my son, social interaction is avoided mostly because he is so very fragile.”
Part 2 of this article can be read here on Saturday.