Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Katrina - Interview 11

Age at interview: 35

Brief outline: Katrina's son, Callum was diagnosed with atypical autism when he was four years old. Callum has been home schooled for the past couple of years after negative experiences in the education system. He is having cognitive behaviour therapy to help him overcome his fears and anxieties.

Background: Katrina, a full time carer, and her partner have a daughter aged 11 and son aged 8. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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Katrina and her partner have two children; Kayleigh aged 11 and Callum aged 8.  Callum was a premature baby who had several health problems in his early years.  Atypical autism was diagnosed when he was four years old after attending an assessment centre for three weeks of observation and tests.  Callum also has dyspraxia and considerable sensory difficulties.  For example, he has not worn shoes for three years and finds different fabrics and textures too much.  He also has a strong fear of dying which has implications for taking him out to different places. 

Callum found school very difficult and by the time he got to Year Two it was almost impossible to get him into the school because he had become so anxious and distressed.  He became aggressive and would self harm and his sleeping was erratic.  Eventually Katrina decided to remove him from school and educate him at home. For the past year, Katrina has been a full time carer.

Katrina says the family have been to hell and back over the years.  Kayleigh has had to witness very difficult scenes with Callum and typical family activities such as going on holiday have not been possible.  For Katrina and her partner, years of disrupted sleep have also taken their toll.  Katrina has been severely stressed and has suffered from depression.  She finds dealing with other people very hard because so few understand autistic spectrum disorders.

Katrina has found a local support group very useful for exchanging ideas with other families dealing with similar experiences.  She also finds reading about ASD’s useful.

Callum has improved markedly since being taken out of school.  Cognitive behaviour therapy and music therapy are helping him to overcome his fears and anxieties.  Katrina has tried dietary interventions and various other therapies, but thinks that the best way to help him is to make his environment as suitable for him as she can.

Callum is quite a loner and is happy with his own company.  He particularly likes animals and playing on his playstation. He wants to work at the Dogs Trust when he grows older. 


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