A community of parents and carers of people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
In 2002, the story of Helen Rogan hit the headlines. She jumped from a viaduct in County Durham with her autistic son, Mark, killing them both. A news story that had particular poignance for us. Not only did we live locally, but our then two-year-old son was in the early stages of being diagnosed with Autism.
No one seemed to want to know. The joke became, "Congratulations, your son has Autism. Don't let the door hit you on the way out." There was no guide book, no support - just a health visitor who could help us fill in the form for free nappies. As if that would make the world better!
'Friends' vanished quickly and we became more and more isolated. We'd muddled through the health maze, but faced with a tribunal just to get the LEA to assess our non-verbal son for a statement, we realised that we needed help. Help, which just wasn't there.
So, we bought a domain name, installed some software and started talking about what Autism was like for us and our family. Other parents came along too, and there was a wonderful bonding that no one had really expected. Suddenly there were people who understood just what it was like to have a naked child in the middle of the wine aisle in Tesco. They knew some tips and tricks that we didn't and vice-versa. Slowly life started improving for all of us.
It's nice to know there's somewhere to go where you can voice your worst moments and have a reassuring voice coming back: "Don't panic. That's happened here too." Hit a problem and there's someone there with advice, suggestions, or a recommendation of someone to help. Together, we're stronger and never alone.
The real friendships that have flourished on this site speak for themselves. When we started out, we never imagined what the site would become. We've met some of the most wonderful people here, and ASDfriendly is a real community where people genuinely care and help each other out.
Knowing others will listen and not judge. Realising you do not have to go through the challenges ASDs have brought us, on your own. Rejoicing in the acheivements that occur in life, no matter how small. Even when there is no personal experience of what another is going through, there is empathy. It is how I want myself and my children to be treated, and treat others in return.