Ollie was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5. We noticed differences between him and other kids at an early age. Play was different, things were placed in lines, certain things seemed to be in repeat.
At first I disagreed with the doctor and refused to acknowledge the diagnosis. Not really knowing what autism was, this was the start of our journey.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means it affects people differently and that each individual will have their own strengths and face varying challenges. It is distinguished by a wide variation of traits, including challenges around social communication and interaction, cyclical or repetitive behaviours and over- or under-sensitivity to light, sound, taste or touch. Some autistic children and adults need 24-hour care and support. Others simply need clearer communication and a little longer to do things at work or school.
Autism is often diagnosed alongside other conditions, such as ADHD, dyslexia and learning disabilities. Autistic people can also face mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. You can find out more on at autism.org.uk.
Ollie is very focused on certain things which can come across as an obsession but in my view, these are things he will excel in later in life. The different perspectives, passions and skills autistic children and adults have can be a huge asset. And there are lots of examples of autistic people at the top of their fields, including the actor Anthony Hopkins, TV presenter Chris Packham and Anne Hegarty from ITV’s The Chase.