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Bethany's Story

My mum always knew that I had autism. When I was a young child she took me to the gps, the paediatrician you name it she took me. They were all persistent that I didn’t have autism and in fact had something along the line of global developmental delay, dyspraxia and behavioural problems. Throughout my primary school life I was classified as having learning difficulties therefore received an educational health care plan. My senses such as noise and smells often overwhelmed me so I’d frequently break down and get told of being labelled as a naughty child. Up until year 6 (age 10) I had frequent exclusions from school and often had to work at home with my granny, childminder or my mum. By the end of year 6 I was told that I’d never do my GCSE’s and have to go to a school that had a specialist learning difficulty department. So my mum took me to look around belgrave school (a special educational needs school), city academy, bec ( now known as oasis academy) and cgs. My primary school wanted me to go to bec but with no response from them and low ofsted ratings my mum went against their advice and chose to send me to cgs.

In year 7 I was put in the sen group but by the end of year 7 it was clear that I didn’t have learning difficulties as I excelled in all my subjects so I moved up a set by year 8 and by year 9 I was in set 3. However this journey wasn’t easy. Throughout secondary and primary school I was bullied and labelled as being dumb, naughty and emotionally challenged. With this mental health issues arose so the long grooling process of counselling and therapies began with even more diagnoses taking place.

It wasn’t long until I was referred to camhs and weighed regularly and very quickly got transferred to the specialist eating disorder camhs team as i ate less and lost more weight.Within less than a year of attendance to this team the voices that I hear got more distressing which led to dilusions, paranoia and self harm. My camhs team got concerned and I was removed from education. Within my return to education I quickly lost all the weight that I had gained so they arranged a mental health capacity assessment. This team decided I didn’t have the mental capacity to make the right decisions about my treatment and I was sectioned. 2 weeks later secure transport came and took a very distressed self to a unit in Swindon. I spent a few months there and it’s safe to say it wasn’t easy.

Weeks before my 18th I was diagnosed with autism and a few weeks later I was finally discharged. Since then I’ve been under adult outpatient mental health services (who have been crap at understanding my autism), STEPS (adult eating disorder service) and I’m still waiting on a referral to specialist autism service.

I have achieved so much that my primary school said I’d never achieve as I was deemed as being too naughty: I’m the south west young trustee for uk youth voice, I’m completing my a levels, I’ve got a unconditional offer for bath spa university under the talent and excellence scholarship, I’ve got a Saturday job and a voluntary job.

Yes I am still on meds but my key message to anyone suffering with autism is that your uniqueness means that you can do anything you put your mind to.

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