By CEO and Founder of Autistic Minds, Nadine Honeybone.
All my dreams came true when my son was born in December 2004. He developed like any other child learning to walk and starting to talk, however at the age of around 15 months he stopped talking and he regressed in his development. After a year and a referral to a paediatrician and then to CAMHS, we were given the diagnosis of Autism.
I didn’t know anything about autism, I had heard the term but knew nothing. I was told that there was no known cause and nothing could be done to help him. I was given an appointment in 6 months time to “see how we were doing”! That was the day our journey began.
The internet was the first port of call, and I soon started reading many articles and websites that said they could help if I just bought their product. We did try a few things, but we were doing this completely in the dark with no real understanding of the bigger picture and of how this could really help Tommy. We just wanted some answers and an understanding of what support was out there. It was only after about 2 years I started meeting up with other autism mums and joined facebook where I connected with so many other people on the same journey. For so long I thought it was just us, no-one else really understood and felt totally alone in the challenges we faced.
Our journey so far with Tommy has been very emotional, very often a struggle and at times had us wondering why this life has chosen us. He now attends a fantastic specialist school which is helping as he cannot tell me his needs or if he is in pain, what is wrong or where it hurts. As you can imagine this is at best, frustrating .
With help and support the journey can be a little smoother, but we found no-one tells you about what’s out there to help, and everything we have found out has been from other mums, dads and carers that pass on what they know.
So in September 2010 I founded a new charity and website called The Autism Directory with the mission to help autism families get the help they need. It was launched by Janet Ryder AM who chairs the Cross Party Group on Autism at the Welsh Assembly. The website simply signposts you to all the help and support that is out there.
We’ve recently celebrated the charity’s 10th anniversary and with this came the realisation that we had grown over the years to be far more than an online resource and perhaps needed a new charity name. We are delighted to now be called Autistic Minds.
We are ever so proud that over 60% of our team of our charity team are autistic and this guides how we design and deliver our services. This lived experience is key to the way we engage with all our partners, and the name Autistic Minds captures this perfectly.
Anyone in need of support can contact us by phone, email or via social media to get personal and confidential help and information on a wide range of issues including diagnosis, employment, education, benefits or anything else that they may feel they need support with. Some people call just for a chat with our fantastic team who have a wealth of lived autistic experience and can truly understand the challenges and the support available.
We are here for the autistic community, because we are the autistic community.
Call us on 01443 844764 or get in touch via our contact form.