Liz, Guy’s mum, writes:

“When our youngest son, Guy, was born eight years ago my husband and I were so content, we were blessed with two beautiful little boys. Then, very soon after, we realised that something was wrong – our beautiful little boy didn’t look at us, didn’t smile, didn’t laugh, didn’t talk. When he was 19 months old we realised that he was autistic. The doctors confirmed it – then sent us away.  No words of encouragement, no support, just goodbye – good luck.

“We were plunged into a black, raging ocean of despair. Every minute of every day became a struggle, the black waves threatened to overcome us, we were fighting to stay afloat amidst our grief. With every day that passed he drifted further from us, into his own world. And nobody could offer any help or hope for the future. There is no cure, there is little you can do … you must learn to cope.

“Not our style to just cope. In the brief moments of respite we started looking, asking for help. And then, by chance, we came upon Child Autism UK – then known as Peach. In the middle of our struggle to stay afloat we were thrown a lifeline and emblazoned on it was one small word that meant so much to us – HOPE. We clung on with all the strength we had left.

“Through Child Autism UK we discovered there was a lot we could do to help our son. We could run an intensive education programme to help him learn how to learn. It would be hard work, it would probably involve a fight with the Local Education Authority, it would dominate our lives for the coming years. None of that mattered. We would have done anything to try and get our little boy back.

“So we clung onto our lifeline and gradually, with Peach’s help, we made it to dry land, the despair and grief began to lift and we began to help our little boy. He started to look at us, started to smile, started to laugh, started to talk. Now, as each day passed, our little boy was coming back to us.

“The programmes Child Autism UK promote and run have a profoundly positive impact on both the child and their families. It enables the child to reach their potential, whatever that is, and it gives the families something that is so precious to us all – hope.

“For us, we hope one day we will have a conversation with our son, we hope one day he will understand and be excited by Christmas, we hope one day Guy will have a simple job. Thanks to Child Autism UK there is much to hope for.”