Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Tony and Alison - Interview 28

Male
Age at interview: 36

Brief outline: Tony and Alison's son, Nathan, was diagnosed with autism three years ago. He is currently in a mainstream primary school and will move to a special school for his secondary education.

Background: Tony, a market manager, and Alison, a dinner lady, have two children; Fiona aged 13 and Nathan aged 10.

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Tony, a Market Manager and Alison, a dinner lady, have two children; Fiona, aged 13 and Nathan, aged 10.  By the time Nathan was 18 months old, his parents felt that there was something different about his development. He would eat only crisps and biscuits and drank huge quantities of juice. He walked by 18 months and by the age of  3½ wasn’t talking.  They tried to take him to nursery school at that age but he wouldn’t settle at all.  Doctors and regional health visitors told them that there was nothing wrong. 

Eventually Nathan went to the playgroup at the local family support centre where he stayed until he was 5 years old.  From there he went to the mainstream primary school and at the age of 6½, the staff suggested a referral to the children’s centre at a nearby hospital.  The GP referred Nathan and autism was diagnosed almost straightaway.  For Tony this confirmed what he had suspected for years while Alison says the diagnosis hit her “like a ton of bricks” because she had never thought that he had a lifelong condition. Both say life would have been much easier if Nathan had been diagnosed earlier.

Since his diagnosis, Nathan has improved considerably and his extremes of behaviour have calmed down a bit. Tony and Alison feel they know how to handle him better and try to avoid situations which may become problematic for him.  They use cards from the NAS when they go out, if necessary, and found that putting a television in Nathan’s room has helped him to sleep on his own for the first time in six years.  He is still at the primary school with a statement and will be moving to a local special school in September. 

Nathan is a very loving boy with a great sense of humour.  He loves watching Dr Who, Open all Hours and Ready Steady Cook.  He enjoys going to the allotment, especially stopping off at the local shop for sweets and pop and riding his bike.  Tony and Alison find that they often have to split up as a family for different activities.  Fiona can find her brother frustrating at times and enjoys going on weekends organised by the autism support group for siblings.

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