Chapter 1 Extract - "I think your child may be autistic"

Those words are probably the most devastating that many parents have ever heard. Hearing those words could easily destroy some families. Those words could easily have destroyed us as a family but as you read on you will find out differently. Our philosophy is that life is all about choices, whether you choose to give up or fight on is your decision, but hopefully our words will be of some encouragement to help all of those in doubt to take the positive approach and fight on.

We want you to take a step into our lives. If you don't know already what it is like, find out how an autistic child can completely change your life. We are not hiding anything; it is the bare, undiluted truth. The heartaches, the fears and the joy that we have learnt to accept.

Where have we gone for help? How have we achieved so many goals? Perhaps more importantly, how have we remained sane? So many of our customers say you've always got a smile on your face, how? Well if you don't smile you would probably cry.

Hopefully we have whetted your appetite and you want to find out more, but just before you turn the page here's our little secret. You see, just like many of you we have a mirror in our bedroom. Unlike most we use it every morning. You see when we get up we look in that mirror and smile and you know what. EVERY DAY WITHOUT FAIL WE GET A SMILE BACK!

Chapter 5 Extract – Christopher's Studio

We want to take you now into Christopher's studio, the place where every night he would spend hour after hour producing his wonderful masterpieces. We are of course referring to his bedroom but it was here that he would come up with something new nearly every night and sometimes more than once a night.

Before Chris was prescribed medication we had the Gods own task to get him settled at night and of course in the early days of his autism, it was so new to us that we were naive. Having put your child to bed you would expect them to perhaps lie awake for a little while and then drift off to sleep but we never had any such luck. Chris would never willingly stay in his room and so we decided a child gate across the door would do the trick. Wrong! In no time at all he had learnt to climb over it. Well, we thought, he definitely won’t climb over two, one on top of the other. Wrong again, he could so he finished up with the two gates and then a piece of plywood over the top of these to stop his escape and even this didn't deter him some nights, as he would charge at the barrier and knock it down. Can you imagine how difficult it was for one or both of us to get into his room to check on him, sliding through that narrow opening? It's bad enough when there is only one gate but this meant being on all fours and crawling into the room.

Now let's get back to his artwork. We would watch him as closely as possible, remembering that some nights only one of us was available as the other was out trying to keep our business going, or spend time with our other son, Charlie. Chris was so clever that within minutes of your back being turned perhaps because you thought he was finally asleep, or because you had to attend to our other lad he would strip off, prepare what seemed to be a never ending supply of home made paint or clay, then spread it everywhere. Over the walls, over himself, his toys and of course over one of us when you tried to get him out of the room and down stairs to the bathroom. This happened so often that we quickly had a routine worked out, where one would clean Chris up and the other make sure that he had a clean canvas for his next lot of works. It is bad enough changing a baby but as a child grows so many of you will know so does the awful smell and of course the quantity.

Chapter 6 Extract - "Taking On Picasso"

No matter how good Christopher's art had became we had to do something to stop it. We had to find some way where, having put him to bed, he would settle down, get to sleep and of course allow us to get some rest.

Bringing up any child is tiring but when you have one that starts his day anything from four thirty onwards and keeps going until past midnight it is a nightmare. No, it is not a nightmare it is hell. When day after day, night after night you have hardly any rest, barely any sleep it starts to take its toll. You do start to think why us? What have we done wrong to deserve this sentence? How long before one of us is ill?

We both can recall one time in particular. The driving school, although very successful over the years, was fast suffering because I was being called back home more and more often to help. It wasn't at night but a Saturday afternoon, when Chris had a really bad tantrum, charging about the room attacking anything in sight and all for no obvious reason. He was head butting the walls head butting the floor, biting himself and his brother Charlie. There was only one thing we came up with, to get him to his room where we had a better chance of containing his anger. Just getting him to his room was easier said than done but between us we struggled up the stairs with him and into his room, encouraging him to lie down on his bed.

Chapter 31 Extract - "The Wow Factor"

Without any doubt the most important reason for me writing this book has been the desire to raise awareness of autism and the struggle for those people whose lives have been affected.

To achieve this successfully I will have had to appeal to your WOW factor. What do I mean? Somewhere between the front and back cover I will have had to have written at least one thing that has made you take a step back and think to yourself, "WOW I did not know that," or "WOW I did not realise how autism could change a families life."

I want this message to reach persons from all walks of life. The politicians and professionals, who are supposed to look after us, medical and social professionals, that they may pick up on something that up to now has not stirred their Wow factor.

Normal, everyday working class people so that they are able to understand better when confronted with autism and last but not least the many millions of people throughout the world that find themselves deep within the clutches of the autistic spectrum, that they may find strength, perhaps advice and the confidence to fight on.