A Doncaster mum has spoken of how her son's diagnosis of autism inspired her to set up an organisation to help others in the same boat.
To mark World Autism Awareness Week, Jenny Candler has revealed the pain of her son Adrian, now 14, being diagnosed with autism and how his condition encouraged her to help others in a similar position.
After seeing her son's struggles, the West Stockwith-based mum set up an agency offering coaching, mentoring and support for people diagnosed with a learning or social disability, as well as their employers, families and other support networks.
She said: "It was created from fear, powered by passion, driven with hope.
"My son struggled speaking, avoided social integration and eye contact, was far too loud, had severe sensory issues, eating problems, anxiety, concentration and sleep issues along with routine based obsessions.
"I often found him sitting rocking backwards and forwards in the corner of the room with his hands over his ears or head down walking backwards and forwards humming loudly, whilst flapping his hands or hitting his stomach repeatedly.
"He massively struggled with change, he often used to stimm, scream and hit out.
"I was scared, lonely and so confused.
"The day I was told he had autism filled me massively with fear and the following questions:
"Would my son be able to live a happy, independent, fun filled life? Or would he end up socially isolated, bullied, never work, never have a partner or be able to live independently?
"These questions haunted me. I dropped everything I was doing and decided that I needed to get to know and support my son the best I could, I swiftly ran away from my life, and went travelling with my little boy.
"I was adamant back then and continue to be adamant now that I will find the solutions needed to suppress my own fears and therefore the fears of others.
"I have travelled a long way in the years since - dedicating my life to this very cause.
"I am so proud to say that my son has overcome all of his earlier difficulties, together we worked tirelessly to find, adapt and use various coping strategies.
Added Jenny: "Our hopes and values are what drive us to better not only ourselves but those who we are privileged to influence and support.
"I always held (and still) hold on strongly to hope, that my son will go on to lead an independent, fulfilling life, but I also wish that for every person I meet.
"I believe no one should have to suffer in the eyes of difference - due to lack of support, education or forethought.
"After years of research, testing and developing new strategies along with a great team around me, I am so proud to share with you all, the following Doncaster based service; which has been created from fear, is fuelled with passion and is continually driven with hope. Our aim is simply to create a more independent and inclusive society."
Her organisation www.employmentsupport.org helps to promoting personal independence and workplace inclusion in and around Doncaster.
The firm offers coaching, mentoring and training support, aiming to change mindsets, become more forward thinking and use actual, not predicted, findings and feedback, to help people problem solve and become more independent.
Added Jenny: "Sending all my love, to all touched by autism and other hidden disabilities, not just this week but every day."