Mum Sarah Wood has always known her 15-year-old son has autism but he has only just been officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

"The difficulty has always been that Luke is very academic and while he has been achieving in school there was never been a drive to put him on the pathway to diagnosis," Sarah explains.

But with a two-year-old daughter as well, Sarah finds it hard to cope with everyday life with Luke. "He needs a lot of help with personal care and he struggles to cope with situations, for example, when there was snow on the ground he found it slippy in his shoes so he took them off and walked home from school in just his socks."

Incidents like this have been highly upsetting for Sarah – she can no longer work full-time as Luke will not go to school if she is at work. It’s been a blow for the professional Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

"I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, doing a master’s degree and continuing professional development at university but I have been forced to reduce my hours. I have to get up at 5.30am to get Luke to school on time, it takes that long."

Sarah had a difficult birth but Luke fed and slept well as a baby. "He was very placid and I thought he was simply content but looking back it was because he was not engaging. At playgroup, he would just want to wander around on his own continually spinning metal cars in each hand."

Although Luke managed to get through primary school, things began to unravel in secondary. "It went from him being a bit quirky and eccentric to him refusing to go to school, refusing to do his work, ending up being put in isolation, I just didn’t know where to turn or what to do."

Luke has now just gone through the diagnosis process and has taken up an educational placement at Daisy Chain which Sarah says is helping her to come to terms with his autism. "Daisy Chain is also helping me understand Luke’s autism which I need to in order to be able to help him.

"Luke has done his GCSE mock exams and done very well, he’s extremely clever but he has no organisational skills. I often have to get him dressed. I went along to the Links parents’ groups after an horrendous week, I’d only had an hour’s sleep and I still had to look after Indie, and I just burst into tears. Daisy Chain stepped in and said it was common for kids on the spectrum to go into crisis when they hit puberty and it could be sorted out, they could support me and help Luke.

"It was the first time that anyone said to me that it could be sorted out, there were answers and strategies to get through this. Luke has enjoyed starting going to Daisy Chain. He is learning about body language and facial expressions which he finds very difficult in a group setting, he can’t make sense of them and he then shuts down in that social situation."

Sarah is now hopeful that attending Daisy Chain will help Luke cope with the stress of going to school. "Daisy Chain is my lifeline, I had no idea what to do. Luke’s school also had no idea what to do so Daisy Chain is going to do some training for them so they can be more aware of how to help him."

March 14 2018 

Photo Helen Murphy Photography