Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people but autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
It’s estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has Autism. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.
Autism is a spectrum condition in that autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people with autism can learn and develop and the right sort of support can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
The main features of Autism – problems with social communication and interaction – can often be recognised during early childhood.
Some features may not become noticeable until a change of situation, such as when the child starts nursery or school.
At Nugent’s schools and services for children and young people we provide up to date therapeutic care and surroundings that aim to help those with autistic symptoms.
We strive to put all young people’s social, emotional and mental health at the centre of our work. We spend time finding new and innovative ways to better support our young people who are on the autism spectrum, and help them achieve their personal goals.
Jamie Owen, from Bangor, in North Wales, was a pupil at Nugent’s specialist SEN school, Nugent House School, in Billinge for 6 years, having been diagnosed with autism when he was 11.
Since leaving school Jamie has become an accomplished climber, and last year, as part of the Autism at Height project – the brainchild of Jamie’s climbing coach, Mark McGowan, Jamie attempted to summit the Matterhorn in order to raise awareness of autism in adventure.
Jamie and the team reached a point 300m below the summit (4170m above sea level) on the Hörnli Ridge, before making the tough decision to turn back as a storm descended.
Describing his condition Jay said:
“Explaining autism is like finding a gorilla in a jungle, climbing the Amazon trees and trying to describe the view of the horizon to the gorilla.”
Doctors used to say to me I’ll never be able to go on a pair of skates or go on a pair of roller blades. It took me ages to ride a bike without stabilisers.
Nugent House School provided the stability and structure I needed, I learnt to read and write, and the staff gave me the individual support I needed to find myself.”
Jamie is an inspiring young man, and an advocate for autistic young people, he is very open about the challenges he faces everyday as an autistic person, and is very driven by his goals. We are very proud to have been part of his journey.
You can see a short film about Jamie at: https://youtu.be/DI8rjqXHJ_4
You can find more information about Nugent’s education services at: wearenugent.org