Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Christine - Interview 20


Brief outline: Christine's son, Brian, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome four years ago after being wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 14. He lives at home now after years in a residential home and attends an autism day centre during the week.

Background: Christine has two adopted children, the oldest, Brian, is 30 years old. She lives with Brian and Alice, her daughter's child. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Christine lives with her son Brian, aged 30, and her granddaughter, Alice, aged 7.  Christine and her husband adopted Brian when he was four months old and adopted Jenny two years later.  When he was a baby, Brian was allergic to milk, his speech was delayed and he didn’t walk until he was eighteen months old.  At nursery school Brian didn’t mix with the other children and Christine raised her concerns with the Health Visitor who said Brian was fine.  When he started school Brian became more withdrawn. 

The family moved area and Brian was bullied badly at his new school and became even quieter.  He was statemented and attended a special needs unit attached to the school for half the day.  Brian was diagnosed with dyslexia and eventually moved to a residential school for dyslexic children when he was 11 years old.  After two years, it was decided that the school was not appropriate for Brian and he moved to a local comprehensive where his unhappiness increased and he became suicidal.  Christine arranged for Brian to see a psychiatrist privately and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on anti-psychotic medication.  

By this time, Brian was 15 and not well enough to attend school. His behaviour continued to deteriorate and when Christine’s husband died suddenly, Brian went to live in a residential home from where he was transferred to a nursing home two hours away because it was felt that he needed 24 hour nursing care.  Christine visited him weekly while being treated for breast cancer and eventually decided to move closer to the home.  Brian spent nine years in the home living with elderly people, many of whom had come out of long term institutional care. 

Five years ago Christine decided Brian should live at home with her and so removed him from the home.  At the same time, she became the full time carer of  Jenny’s child, Alice, who was two at the time.  Someone suggested to Christine that Brian had AS and so she did some research and contacted a psychologist who confirmed the diagnosis. Brian has been taking Clozaril since 1998 and has made good progress. Christine feels she can understand him better now she knows about autism.

Brian is now attending a day centre which he enjoys. He likes fishing and making models of cities.  At home, he spends most of his time in the kitchen making drinks which Christine thinks is an outcome of his time in the home.


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