Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Tracy - Interview 13

Age at interview: 40

Brief outline: Tracy's daughter, Nicola, was diagnosed with autism when she was six years old. Nicola is currently at a college for further education and will start working at the local hospital radio station when she finishes her course.

Background: Tracy, a school assistant, and her husband have one daughter aged 19. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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Tracy and her husband have a 19 year old daughter, Nicola.  When Nicola was a baby, Tracy noticed that she wasn’t reaching milestones like other children.  Her GP told Tracy that Nicola would catch up.  At nursery, Nicola did not mix with other children and was still in nappies at the age of five. 

On starting school, Nicola was seen by a whole range of health professionals and therapists and the school started the statementing process; autism was raised as a possible diagnosis. Tracy asked to be referred for an official diagnosis and after a number of tests at a local hospital, Nicola was diagnosed.  Tracy describes going through a range of emotions at this point which included relief, blame and anger.  It took four years to get the statement and after a period of one to one support in mainstream school, Nicola moved to a special school which she loved. 

Nicola has always slept badly and will wake her parents up at any time during the night to ask a question or tell them something. Her parents spend little time together as a couple -- this has been difficult for both. Tracy worries about her daughter because she is vulnerable and very trusting. Reaching adulthood has brought new challenges for the family and Tracy is concerned about Nicola’s future.  She feels she over-protects her daughter in some ways but this is partly because young adults with autism get very little support or advice. 

Nicola has a lot of potential and when she finishes her college course, will begin a job at the local hospital radio station.  She has passed her GCSE’s, won a national art competition and loves music and Chelsea football club. 


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