Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Daniel - Interview 7


Brief outline: Daniel's son, Jonathan, was diagnosed with autism in association with hyperlexia when he was aged 4. Daniel has home-schooled his son for the past four years.

Background: Daniel, a full time carer is separated from his wife and lives with his son, aged 13. Ethnic background/ethnicity: White British

Audio & video

Daniel is separated from his wife and lives with his son, Jonathan, who is 13 years old.  Jonathan was diagnosed with autism in association with hyperlexia when he was four years old.  Both parents felt that there was something different about their son from the moment he was born.  Jonathan had a different kind of awareness about him and very early demonstrated a remarkable reading ability.

Their concerns were ignored until Jonathan started school where his unusual behaviour and advanced intelligence in some areas was noticed. Their GP sent Jonathan to see one of the top experts on childhood development and they received the diagnosis. 

Autism in association with hyperlexia is a rare condition and one that is very difficult to people to understand because the advanced speech masks the autistic traits.  This made finding an appropriate school difficult and the family moved to a different area once they found a school that could offer Jonathan the appropriate support. 

The statementing process was also difficult because of the lack of understanding about the condition and the school failed to meet Jonathan’s needs.  Within four years, Jonathon’s behaviour had deteriorated markedly and he was distressed and unhappy.  The strain on the family led to Daniel and his wife separating.  Daniel removed Jonathan from school and has homeschooled him for the past four years.

Daniel has devised a flexible set of therapies to help Jonathan overcome his experience of school and regain his self esteem.  This includes teaching some of the national curriculum but also a lot of physical exercise, activities to help him develop his independence and so on.

Jonathan now attends a karate class, sings in a local choir, has taken part in a BBC spelling competition and been involved in amateur dramatic.  These activities have been successful although there has been a lot of work rehearsing the situations in advance to enable Jonathan to participate. 

Daniel feels strongly that the education system fails children like Jonathan because of its inflexibility and lack of engagement with difference.  For him, one to one support with the child is crucial. 


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