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We were delighted by the response to our #AutismHeroes campaign and all of the nominations that we received. We wanted to celebrate and raise awareness of all of the Autism Heroes out there so have included all of your nominations in our Hall of Fame. The world is a better place for having these heroes in it.
Jack was nominated by Claire who said "This is my #autismhero, Jack White. He has been my friend for many years, but over the past two years in particular, he has been an incredible support to me and I don’t know where I would be without him.
Last January, I became mentally ill and Jack, and my other incredible best friend Lesley, cared for me. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD by a psychiatrist and I battled suicidal thoughts daily. I was unable to do my job, which I adored; I couldn’t eat, sleep, think rationally or really look after myself or my home at all... Without fail, Jack helped me night and day, and I can’t imagine how very hard this must have been for him but he and Lesley never ever gave up.
Later, in the August, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which was a huge shock to us, but one that has since made my life and struggles make sense for the first time in 30 years. Not only did Jack stand by me, he, or Lesley, came to every single appointment and made sure I took the medication. Not just that, but Jack took an interest in our mental health systems and learned and researched about Autism. This dedication made me feel like my life was worth fighting for, and that if I could get better, with all our new knowledge, he and I might be able to help others going through this or similar.
Jack is not only my best friend, but also the Choir leader at a Choir I used to sing in, Sing Now Choir. He is a brilliant musician, an inspirational leader and he makes everyone laugh which is so important... Choir was a hobby that had previously made me feel fantastic and alive until my mental health took over my confidence. Because of Jack, I have still been able to attend sessions and help him out behind the scenes at performances and with admin etc, even though I haven’t been able to join in and perform myself. Thanks to Jack, I have so many understanding friends that still include me at Choir, because Jack kindly, openly and clearly explained my Autism diagnosis to my ‘choir family,’ and they all responded positively and have made me feel truly loved and accepted... especially Lesley who I dearly love, who has been on this journey with me every step of the way, and who brings me joy, support and encouragement every single day.
Jack thoughtfully applied for an Autism card and car sticker for me to keep in my purse and car window following my diagnosis. This has given me more confidence to go out on my own and/or go to Choir gigs and busy places because I have these resources to help me if I were to run into a difficulty. He has helped me move house twice this year, he is always at the end of the phone but we also have the best fun together everyday. Some people even think we can communicate psychically!
I want Jack White and absolutely all of my friends and family to be recognised as Autism Heroes really! But Jack... he has made my scariest times safe, my loneliest times bearable and my hardest times much, much easier. We have also shared so many happy memories and funny adventures!
From keeping routines, to listening to my ‘obsessive’ interests and helping things become calm when I am so overloaded... I would like to say thank you to you, Jack, Lesley, and all my Choir friends and family from the bottom of my heart, for being the most trustworthy, understanding, patient and caring, accepting friends I will ever know. "
Thank you Claire for nominating Jack.
Sunny-Rose was nominated by her Grandmother who said "I would like to nominate my granddaughter, Sunny-Rose aged 10. Sunny-Rose has a twin brother, Solomon, who has autism and ADHD. The twins are very close and Sunny-Rose helps her brother at school and at home. She helps him pick out his clothes and does his hair each morning so that he looks “cool”. She helps him at school when he has difficulties and reminds him if his behaviour is inappropriate. Solomon is underweight as he does not feel hungry due to his medication and Sunny-Rose reminds him to eat. She has endless patience with Solomon who is very demanding of her time and attention and had learnt to play Minecraft as this is an interest of her brother and they can play together. Even if Sunny-Rose is taken shopping as a treat, she insists on choosing something for Solomon that he would like and she is always right! She is our family autism hero."
Thank you for the nomination Carolyn.
Six year old Flynn has been nominated by his mum who said "My nomination for my Autism Hero is for my 6 year old ASD son Flynn. He is always trying his best despite all of his struggles, he is so loving and we are just so proud of how far he has come ."
Thank you for the nomination Nicky.
"I would also like to nominate my sons Lewis Hughes and Noah Hughes as my autism heros. Lewis is 8 and was diagnosed with ASD at the end of last year. It has made us realise the challenges he faces every day. It's hard for us as parents to deal with every day challenges, but it makes you realise how much harder it must be for him. He's very much in the early stages of trying to cope with the anxieties of everyday, but every day he overcomes a new challenge and he makes me smile and so incredibly proud. Noah sticks up for his brother, He's starting to understand He's different. He's learning too. He is 6 and has social communication disorder. He won't do anything without his brother. Times have been extremely testing but a smile from these boys or an unexpected achievement makes it all so worthwhile. They are my world and my autism heros."
Thank you for the nominations Amanda.
"My #autismhero is my husband Daniel Pirouet who has cut his hours at work allowing me to go back to work one day a week as we struggled with childcare, we have two autistic sons together he never shys away from getting up in the night, letting me sleep in if I need it, he is such a hands on dad and takes it all in his stride no matter what the day throws at us and is so positive."
Thank you Charlotte for nominatting Daniel.
"I nominate Richard for being awesome, strong, smart and a trailblazer. Sensitive and understanding and wise.
He has a heart that big enough and encompasses so much and that’s why I nominate him x"
Thank you Pauline for nominating Richard.
Thank you Daniel for this great nomination. Good to hear about team westy.
"Amanda Hughes, a friend of mine for fighting so hard for her own family and others that are struggling to be recognised. Such strong woman. She has been there for me and others even amongst her own family struggles. Couldn't ask for better village support person."
Thank you for your nomination Roisin.
Amanda added "I have chosen this picture of Lewis and I as I bought the jumper he is wearing to help him understand how good it can be to be different. This was a huge turning point for him. A visual representation that he could understand. His smile all of a sudden became huge and things clicked into place! A real defining moment." Thanks for sharing the photo Amanda and the treasured memory.
Sara nominates "Jules Robertson who plays Jason in Holby. For showing that autism doesn’t hold him back from his acting career and also for helping to spread awareness through his character, Jason who is also autistic."
Thank you for your nomination Sara.
Clare says "I admire Chris Packham for his recent honest and open documentary. He made me understand why my son chooses to do certain things and the reasons why." Thank you for your nomination Clare
Hayley also nominated Chris saying "I think Chris Packham has done amazing...really admire him with the doc he did and also the way he explains things...made me learn,and understand a few more things...how ppl with it think...amazing." Thank you Hayley.
Nominated by Paul Smith " I nominate jamie because he supports a lot of us aspies." and by Jason Evans "I nominate Jamie Pratt without whom I think there would not be the social group I go to which I enjoy very much."
Thank you for the nominations Paul and Jason.
Nominated by Liv who said "Dr Phil Christie of NORSACA, pioneering awareness of Pathological Demand Avoidance. Would be amazing to have him speak somewhere on the South Coast and really plug it to local professionals."
Thank you for your nomination Liv.
"Id like to tell you a little about my hero Josh. Just so happens he's also my son but I'll try not to let that biase my comments.
Josh was diagnosed with PDA at 5. At the same time he had his first exclusion from school and we as parents started the battle to get him into a special need primary. After a long battle we got a place at the Waterloo school and Joshs life was changed. The emphasis changed from purely educational to also receiving a social and emotional education. What a change that made in him. Around this time i started fundraising for Autism hants, even got myself onto the front cover of the newsletter with Josh after the Great South Run. The idea of helping others runs deep in Josh too. A school friends Grandmother died of cancer and Josh helped to console him. This gave Josh the idea to do a fundraiser for children with cancer. His plan was to do a bike ride from home to achool, 15 miles is no small distance when you are only 10. Josh wanted to raise £100 but ended up over £2000. This really sums up how he always thinks of others before himself
He is also incredibly brave and adventurous and shows just how autism is no bar to a boy who wants adventure. He's always enjoyed hiking and wild camping. Last January we went to Wales, climbed a mountain in the dark. Pitched a tent on the top all in temperatures of -14. The following day we climbed a further two mountains and camped out in the snow for a second night. Over the Easter holidays we are going to take on the Cape Wrath Trail in the Highlands of Scotland, widely regarded as the hardest hiking trail in the UK. At the age of 11 he can now navigate with a map and compass and has also completed a survival course run by ex special forces soldiers on Dartmoor.
He also kayaks, rides a BMX, plays rugby at Easleigh rugby club and also led the Southampton football club onto the pitch as mascot at a premiership game.
Add to all that the fact he had to move from the safe provision of special needs primary into mainstream secondary. The thought terrified us as parents but he took it all in his stride. We've been told by the year head he has settled in the best of ANY year 7 student. Summing this up was a moment when his form tutor was asking another teacher about Autism so he could give a talk to his tutor group. Josh over heard this and insisted that he should give the talk himself which he duly did to everyone's amazement.
Josh truly shows all the great things about autism. Yes of course there are tricky times but the love, compassion and sense of adventure Josh shows should be a real inspiration to all other boys and girls with autism. There are no limits, no barriers and no excuses. Joshs motto is "Autism is my superpower, what's yours?!" My heart bursts with pride with this young man in my life. Hero just isn't a big enough word for him."
Thank you for the nomination Ian.
Susan Boyle was nominated by Becky "because she can stand up in front of the nation and sing most beautiful showing the World people who have Autism or have Asperger Syndrome can achieve anything."
Thank you for your nomination Becky.
Jamie was nominated by his mum Becky. "My autism hero is my son Jamie. He is 11 years old and an amazing brother and young carer to his younger brother Toby who has autism. Jamie is always there wanting to help his brother, is always patient and calm,he gives his time and stuff up to Toby. And when Tobys needs take up my time Jamie never complains or moans. He has embraced Toby and all of his quirks with an open mind and open arms and is incredibly protective of him. I'm so so proud of both my children and that is why my autism hero can be no one else but my son Jamie. Xx"
Thank you for the nomination Becky.
Kerris nominates "Sophie who works for my company. We originally employed Sophie as our office junior, knowing she had struggled throughout school & college. She came on as an apprentice and very soon we noticed her ability with figures. She now is fully employed and is in charge of all the wages, books, payment files etc and is enrolling with our help on to a book keeping course. Sophie knows she thinks differently and has, with support, accomplished so much this year. She came to the Christmas party alone which was a huge stepping stone and even chose to overcome her fear of heights to abseil down the Spinnaker Tower to raise money for Autism Hampshire on 2nd April 2017, World Autism Awareness Day.
Sophie is 25 and has taken charge of her life and wants to raise awareness so others on the autism spectrum know that life doesn’t have to be limiting. She is an inspiration to young people with autism and a credit to her dedication and hard work."
Thank you for the nomination Kerris.
Kenzi aged 7 has been nominated by his mum Kirsty. "He is the most amazing little boy you could ever meet. He is super intelligent, gentle, kind, loving and so funny!
He has opened my eyes to the world and helped me to see it in a different light. Things haven't been easy, but the more I understand asc, the closer Kenzi and I get.
I also have a daughter and we have a great relationship, and to be able to build that relationship with my son, and for him to have a great relationship with my daughter is something I'm so proud of!
I've attached a picture of my little man. I'm sure you will agree that he is gorgeous!!!"
Thank you for your nomination Kirsty.
Jeanette said "I would like to vote our CHAT Autism Ambassador Su Seymour for an award. She does great work helping the local community including local schools, colleges and hospitals to understand those who hae autism. She often gets phoned up to train doctors and nurses at local GP Surgeries understand those who are on the autism spectrum. Su does all this while training to become a Social Worker specialising in Autism, she is a true star!"
Su has also been nominated by Wendy who said "I nominate SU Seymour for being an accredited autism ambassador who has done autism awareness training to hospitals and colleges and is Gosports autism ambassador and helps many individuals with autism with advice despite struggling without any proper support herself for her own autism."
And Su had a third nomination from Joy who said "I nominate Su, she has spent many hours promoting autism awareness , also helping to run hubs for autistic people in Fareham and Gosport, to help them spend a few hours enjoying themselves doing crafts , games etc. She has also appeared in promotional videos for the Mayflower Theatre to raise awareness of the special performances for autistic and special needs audiences. She is Autism Ambassador to QA Hospital., being autistic herself she is always ready to help others."
Thank you for your nominations all.
Leo has been nominated by mum Shan "I nominate my son Leo age 6, he is an inspiration. Not only is he autistic but has extreme anxiety and so much confusion within himself and he manages so well, we have the odd hick up here and there but over the last 6 months he’s come on so much! I’m incredibly proud ❤️"
Thank you Shan for the nomination.
Zak has been nominated by mum Bev "for overcoming amazing odds." He has even been nominated for a young citizen of the year award 2018. Bev told us that "Zak had significant difficulties from an early age which led to him feeling isolated and sad. He was often excluded from participating in activities other children were able to do.
Zaks schooling was difficult until he was diagnosed with Autism/ Aspergers in Jan 2017. Children with Autism are often regarded by people who don’t understand their literal thinking as ‘naughty’ which is completely untrue and led to us finding a new school for Zak.
This new school (Newtown) was more able to provide the expertise in guiding a child with autism and Zak responded extremely well to their support. Zak was diagnosed with severe ADHD in Nov 2016 which led to him being medicated in Jan 2018. This medication enabled Zak to show the world what was in his heart without the constant random thoughts and actions dictating his every minute of the day. The medication is only short acting but it enables Zak to focus on his work at school and to show everyone how much effort he puts into his work with great results. He’s come so far in so little time. It is evident to see that Zak thrives on the respect and positive feedback from his ability to achieve.
Zak has put the past behind him, the negative reactions he gained daily from people with little or no understanding of him. He has come through it all with a smile on his face and love in his heart. He is an extremely kind child and would help anyone.
He has travelled through scouting from Beavers and will be invested into scouts this week. He has also just graduated into Stage 6 Swimming lessons and has been making great progress there too. It breaks my heart to think of all the pain he suffered over the last 4 years. It has been an extremely difficult time for Zak and the rest of his family.
Zackary is now looking happily into the future with his next step being Year 7 at Crofton and with the support of a specialist Autism dept attached to the school (The Croft). His aim is to be an engineer and he wishes to attend CEMAST to do this. He absolutely loves science and computing. Lego has been his mainstay toy throughout his life and has been able to complete models way ahead of his years."
Thank you for the nomination Bev.
Nominated by Megan "My lovely man who despite having had so many struggles with autism, has grown so much and is so wonderful. He’s also allowed me to see that there’s so many positive characteristics from being on the spectrum that make him who he is and I wouldn’t have him any other way! People who think it’ll hold them back from what they want in life need to know they are just as powerful and successful as others. He inspires me to work through my worries and be happy."
Thank you for your nomination Megan.
"I nominate my 12 year old son Reese, recently diagnosed with autism at the beginning of the year. I now see him through a different set of eyes, my hero"
Thank you for the nomination Ashley.
"Mine would be one of my sons Jack because no matter what struggles he faces he reminds me to see the world in a different way and also my best friend Carrie-anne because when my son was at pre-school he was judged for his behaviour and even when he was challenging she would show him the love and compassion every child needs and deserves especially children on the spectrum ❤️ 4-5 years later and they are still close. She wasn’t someone I knew when he joined there but seeing how great she was with him made me realise how special she is because she made him realise how special he is. The world needs more people like them all ❤"
Thank you for your nominations Joanne.
Luke's nomination was "Nikola Tesla of course, such a cool dude and an endless amount of contributions and inventions."
Thank you for your nomination Luke.
"I have to nominate my son. He's just turned 15 .He's overcome so many struggles in his life .Last October after a four year fight with depression he was able to come of his antidpressents .He's doing so well. He is currently helping get his dad back to health after he's had a month in hospital with pnemonia and an operation on his lung. He's also trying really hard to attend school one afternoon a week after his outreach worker who helped him so much passed away x"
Thank you for your nomination Paula.
"My hero is my 10 year old son Callum. He has had such a dramatic year,he was diagnosed with autism December just gone and is struggling to come to terms with things. He doesn't understand that he sees the world different to us which iv explained it's ok to be different because if everyone in the world was the same the world would be boring. He has also been bullied at school for being different which I'm in the middle of changing schools as they aren't giving him the support he needs. He also here voices which aren't very nice. Callum is my hero because even though he has been though so much in such a short space of time he never fails to put a smile on my face and he's always trying to help others even when others are being horrible to him. Callum is such an inspiration and I'm learning about autism with him and iv told him we are doing this together and he spent have to feel alone anymore. This is Callum on world.book day even though he doesn't look happy he is xx"
Thank you for your nomination Lacey
"I’d like to nominate my son Jordan, he is my hero and an inspiration to others, he doesn’t let his ASD get in the way of anything and he helps others who aren’t as independent to work through their challenges. He has just achieved his dream of going on holiday without me and coped amazingly even when they were evacuated due to a bomb scare."
Thank you for your nomination Jayne.
"I have nominated my son Riley. He has just turned 6 and he is the strongest little boy I have ever met. I was in a bad relationship which resulted in him being in a not so nice family surrounding, shouting, arguing and he always held it together. We are now out of that horrible situation and whenever I’m down he always seems to makes everything better he is so caring and always puts everyone els before him self I honestly don’t know what I would of done without him these past few weeks xx"
Thank you for your nomination Georgia-louise.
When Leigh considered who his Autism Hero was it was a close call. "Gosh, so many to choose from .... Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton ...
By a sliver my autism hero would be Alan Turing. The power of his brain industrialised the cracking of Nazi codes thus shortening the war and saving hundreds of thousands of lives."
Thank you for your nomination Leigh.
Thank you to all of you that nominated your heroes over the past few weeks. It has been great to read about so many amazing people on the autism spectrum. People who have made significant contributions to our world and who continue to make positive contributions to all our lives. #AutismAwarenessWeek