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Anyway, as I said, autism was very rare at that time . Consequently, there were very few books on the subject or any support of any kind.
Parents of autistic children really struggled .
One of the biggest problems was , and still is, that every autistic individual is different, even though their underlying problems are the same.
As a result there was no specific cure, and there still isn’t really. However, there are many interventions that can help considerably, especially if you start them early enough.
These days, of course, autism is so common, diagnosis can, and is made earlier, so there really is no excuse not to do anything you can to help your child..
Back then though, I watched in helpless despair as Jodi turned from a happy, lively, sociable, loving baby into the toddler from Hell
* didn’t make eye contact,
* look at what he wanted ,
* didn’t point,
* didn’t speak,
* didn’t understand “Yes” or “No
* didn't play with anything,
* had no sense of danger,
* wasn’t in the slightest bit embarrassed about anything,
* couldn’t wait for anything ...
... and the only way he could communicate he wanted something was to either take it, throw himself on the floor in a tantrum, or HIT me.
For several years I was his personal punch bag, but I just took it, never hit him back or shouted at him because I knew he was doing the best he could .
Somehow, I understood, if he had any other way to tell me what he actually wanted or needed, he’d have used it.
However, he didn’t and when he was small, Jodi looked perfectly okay. He was an attractive child, and no-
As I said, it was living nightmare and the reason I wrote on his tee-
I’m Not Naughty – I’m Autistic
He wore it often!
Over time, people came to be aware Jodi had a problem and would often ask how he was, particularly my aunt Sheila.
She had cancer at the time and said I was so enthusiastic when I spoke about the simple things Jodi had done, I ought to write a book.
Sheila said it could help others in the same situation and also people understand how this invisible disability affects families
Things which parents of non-
Eventually, after much persuasion, my aunt Sheila and others wore me down and I wrote the book over a period of ten days.
Well, actually it was ten nights and it was written on an A4 notepad whilst I was propped up in bed watching the TV, so you can tell it wasn’t my top priority at the time.
After I’d typed it up, I gave the story to my aunt, who promptly read it, told me it was “brilliant” and asked what I was going to do with it.
Actually, I wasn’t planning on doing anything with it. I just wanted people to stop pestering me to write something, so I said “nothing”.
Once more she got on my case and I sent the story off to the National Autistic Society, who told me they loved it. At that time , though, all their funding was tied up in research and not available for publications and personal stories
However, they directed me to Jessica Kingsley publications and advised me to send off the manuscript to them with a covering letter. They also said it was unlikely I’d hear anything for about three months and not to pester the company as publishers don’t like that.
They get thousands of manuscripts you see and you just have to wait patiently until yours is read.
One week later ...I got a phone call!.
It was Jessica Kingsley calling me personally.
She told me she’d read the manuscript on the plane coming back from USA and asked if I’d allow them to publish the story in their next catalogue.
I agreed and the rest as they say is history, but I’m really glad it worked out that way, because my aunt was able to see the book in print before she sadly died.
I’m Not Naughty – I’m Autistic is Jodi’s true story.
It’s been written it as if he’s narrating the whole thing, which of course is ridiculous, as he doesn’t really speak, BUT it makes the story very EASY to read and I’ve been told it’s fascinating, funny and insightful.
People who’ve read it have told me it made them laugh and cry.
Most said they couldn’t put it down and that’s probably partly because there aren’t any chapters in the book.
One woman read it in bed one night and got up at 5.00 a.m. the next morning to read it again.
She said she “loved it”, which clearly pleased me very much, but the thing I’m most pleased about is the book has helped people understand what it’s like to live with autism, and stopped many making snap judgments about the behaviour of others .
Whilst there are undoubtedly many naughty children out there, my son Jodi was never intentionally one of them .
He certainly didn’t deserve a walking stick!Available in Paperback, Kindle and Audio - CLICK HERE!
This is unquestionably still my proudest literary achievement , but I never planned to write it. In fact, the book only came about because of constant pressure from my friends and family.
You see, back when my son was diagnosed with autism , the condition was quite rare. Statistically it affected about one person in every 2500 – mostly boys. (1:2500)
Today, it’s still found more in boys than girls, BUT the figures have increased to about one person in every 100. (1:100)
That’s a huge rise, isn’t it?
Anyway, back in 1990 when Jodi first began to develop autistic symptoms, no-
It was a very difficult time especially as everyone just assumed Jodi was a miserable and naughty little boy, who needed a good smack. Actually, when I was out with him one day an elderly woman even offered me her walking stick to do it!
I must admit I felt pretty helpless as he turned from a happy, lively, sociable, loving baby into the toddler from Hell.
I’m Not Naughty -