Paul was branded as a “naughty & difficult child” at school. He was classically autistic and non-verbal due to speech articulation difficulties. He had complex sensory issues and appeared both deaf and blind. He gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through the mainstream school system with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem.
At age 11, Paul was referred to the children’s mental health service with childhood depression where he was regarded as “developmentally underage” and having speech problems.
As an adult, Paul had a string of unsuccessful jobs, and his mental health suffered. He developed both Borderline and Schizotypal Personality Disorders in early 2007. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy Paul or his family. Autism Oxford put Paul in touch with an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Autism at 24 years old.
In 2012 Paul was also diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome by an Irlen Consultant who confirmed that he also had face, object and meaning blindness – conditions which Paul describes eloquently in his speeches and at Autism Oxford training sessions. He also has dyslexia, dyscalculia and also dissociative disorder.
Having started working as an Autism Oxford speaker in 2010, Paul joined our mission to promote autism awareness. His hope is that others will not have to suffer as he did. Now also a core member of our Training Team, Paul continues to enhance true understanding of autism at every opportunity.
Paul’s first book, his Autobiography “Living through the Haze: Life on the Autistic Spectrum” documents his life from non-verbal child to public speaker in adult life, and was published by Chipmunka publishing in 2012.
Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society.
What our audiences say about Paul:
- “Extremely helpful and interesting account of life - really good to hear personal experiences and advice”
- “Excellent - Wonderful open and honest - very good”
- “A good speaker, clear and honest”
- “Exceptional-Very interesting and comprehensive, well presented”
- “Very helpful explanation of how it feels to have AS and how to find help”
- “So helpful in giving us an understanding of AS”
Mother of two children, Faye found out she was on the autism spectrum in 2010, following her son’s diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Finding out has helped Faye to make sense of her life and things that have happened. But, as she says, ‘I am still just me!’
Faye left school without the qualifications she was capable of acquiring because she was branded as ‘naughty’, ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’. She has had several jobs, none worked out well.
Faye is a very proud mum and her two children are the centre of her life. She says ‘I could talk for ever about them, they are my everything’.
In order to help her son, Faye fought her way through the SEN system to get him to the right school. He is now very well supported and enjoying school life. Faye is very highly motivated to tell people about the reality of life on the autism spectrum. She wants everyone to know the potential of autistic children and is very passionate about spreading information to increase understanding so that all autistic children can have a brighter future.
Faye’s style of speaking is very powerful – her warm, kind and caring personality shines through as she shares her knowledge with professionalism, clarity and humour.
Richard is in his mid forties, and was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in January 2010. Also dyslexic, he grew up knowing he was different but not knowing why. He was criticised for being different and was considered lazy, rude, unsociable, an embarrassment and worse. He was mostly socially excluded by his peers. He had one or two friends who were a real lifeline and one has remained a lifelong friend.
Although very intelligent, Richard left school without much to show for it. He went into dead end jobs, the only sort he could get. He found getting on with colleagues hard and did not understand the politics of work. He was bullied and attempted suicide. Eventually, he made a career for himself working with learning disabled people and people with autism. He says “I found these people great to work with and somehow very like me. They too had suffered like I had and I understood them. I have done this work for 26 years now and am very good at it”.
Married, with a son, Richard really enjoys socialising with people who live in the autistic culture, where he can ‘remove his shell and be natural’. He is a trained and experienced speaker with a passion for raising awareness and helping others on the Autism spectrum.
Catherine is a highly accomplished Autism Oxford speaker with a talent for moving and powerful presentations. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 14, she has worked on a variety of different early intervention programmes for children with autism. She co-founded a support group for young adults with Asperger’s in 2001. The group meets twice a month, and she is an active member. She has worked with university students on the spectrum with the National Autistic Society, and now provides study skills support for university students with Dyslexia and Asperger’s.
Catherine graduated in Psychology, and studied Computer Usability, Communication Sciences and Dyslexia at Postgraduate Level. Throughout her studies, Catherine was particularly interested to learn about research in Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Given her educational, personal and professional background in Autism Spectrum Conditions, Catherine is passionate about integrating theory and practice. She is highly motivated to raise awareness of life on the autism spectrum, especially the apparently more subtle, but often equally profound, effects of Asperger’s syndrome on females.
What our audiences say about Catherine:
- “Catherine highlighted the importance of making the right information available to people with AS and their families”
- “Excellent presentation, fantastic delivery, very informative”
- “Excellent - what a positive message she gave!”
- “Inspiring and confident speaker”
Tilus is a passionate young speaker, originally from Wales. Being passionate, energetic and intelligent he found conforming to school routine hard, he got labelled as difficult and his potential was not recognised. There was nowhere for him to get to grips with his desire to learn and pursue his passions in design, engineering and electronics. Bullying has been a constant in his life until recent years.
Tilus went to university “determined to succeed”. However life was made impossible by bullies thus ending his studies. Like most autistic people Tilus is sincere, honest and hard working. He was very upset to leave university, losing his opportunity to get a degree and prove his ability.
Throughout education Tilus had friends who were important in helping him through life, their support giving him enough strength to keep going. His friends are important today.
Tilus is seeking an understanding of the world and his place in it. He has a passion for life and to find his role so he can live to his fullest potential. He wants get the degree that he is totally capable of in an environment where he is understood and valued.
Tilus is working with Autism Oxford to connect with his inner talents and passion for life. He is working on new presentations and ways of communicating the life of autism. Watch this space; there will be a lot more from Tilus.
Richard is one of our newer speakers, having joined our Training Team in 2012. He was diagnosed, aged 41, with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and ADHD, following many years of losing jobs and difficulties with social and communication skills.
In common with many people with AS, Richard has held many jobs which did not reflect his capabilities and potential, despite holding an MSC in Energy, Conservation and Environment.
A very kind and caring person, Richard is the principal carer for his elderly father. He loves animals, especially his greyhound, Brindle, and his grey cat, Jessica. His aim is to study animal management with a view to a career in veterinary medicine.
Richard was inspired to become a public speaker when he came to one of Autism Oxford’s events and met our team of speakers and trainers. He wants to help and inspire others to overcome similar struggles to his own – in employment and relationships in particular. His central message is ‘be yourself and don’t give up, however difficult things get’. He says ‘I’m not a quitter!’
Coming from a long line of teachers, Richard uses his ‘wicked sense of humour’ to enliven his speeches, much to the delight of audiences.
Marc was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 11. At that time, his parents were told he “would never amount to anything”, something Marc says his mother never got over. He set out to prove otherwise and his mother would have been very proud to see everything he has achieved. Marc has a love of mathematics and astronomy, and holds both a Masters and Bachelors Degree in maths from Brunel University. His other passions are tennis (don’t try to contact him during Wimbledon fortnight!) and Salsa dancing, which he enjoys several times a week. He is patron of a local sports club for children with disabilities, where he is a tennis coach. With many television appearances to his credit, Marc is the author of ‘Making Sense of the Unfeasible’ and ‘Survival Strategies for People on the Autism Spectrum’.
Marc is passionate about raising awareness of the abilities and potential of people on the autism spectrum as well as the challenges and difficulties of living with autism. His message is:
“With the right support, autistic people can do anything they really want to do – but having the right, autism-specific, support is crucial”
What our audiences say about Marc:
- “An excellent and inspiring speaker - Brilliant”
- “Fantastic. Good ideas we need to look at with our son”
- “Very interesting journey, spoken with clarity and passion”
- “Insightful presentation into the small but significant difficulties a very intelligent AS person can suffer from”
- “Such an inspiration and encouragement to others”
- “Excellent insights into problems encountered by adults with AS”
To enquire about a talk by Marc, please contact us.
What our audiences say about James:
- “Fun, clear, articulate, entertaining”
- “Really engaged with audience, good sense of humour!”
- “Very clear, funny & informative”
- “..good compere. Put himself across very clearly in question time”
Diagnosed as autistic in 1997 aged eight, Patrick was told as a teenager he had Asperger’s syndrome. Being diagnosed enabled Patrick to receive the support he needed in school and college. Before being diagnosed, he was classed as ‘a trouble maker’ and ‘uncooperative’. At times in school, he was very challenging.
After struggles at school, and having been banned from his school site at 14, Patrick studied on a person-centred, modified timetable which included a martial arts session and movement therapy. He believes his parents and some teachers had to fight hard to get what he needed, but this helped to turn his life around to be more positive.
At 16, Patrick went to a college for people with learning difficulties, where he qualified to be an electrician - something he had wanted to be since he was very young. He now works full time as an electrician and is working towards an Open University degree in Physics.
Patrick started public speaking at a course for parents in ‘autism and challenging behaviour’ led by Jonas Torrance. He found he liked talking about his experiences and how he was able to change his behaviour. He joined the Autism Oxford team in 2010 and enjoys speaking when he can fit it in around his daytime work. He is very keen to help parents, teachers and others to understand more about the difficulties that autism may cause in difficult situations.
Patrick is motivated to speak about autism and challenging behaviour so that he can help other children cope at school by explaining to teachers and parents that autistic children see the world differently, but they are just as capable as anyone else of obtaining high grades at school despite not, on the whole, fitting into a box ticking form.
What our audiences say about Patrick:
- “Very insightful, really moving”
- “Really great to hear about alternative channels to aggression”
- “Clear journey through life, great to hear about personal management interventions”
- “Good demonstration of finding the right approach for the right person”
Donna Williams is a multi-talented, highly qualified person diagnosed with autism. As well as being an internationally renowned public speaker , she is a sociologist, a qualified teacher and a consultant. She has published nine books, including her international best-selling autobiography, ‘Nobody Nowhere’ and ‘Autism; An Inside Out Approach’. In addition to these accomplishments, Donna is also a sculptor, painter and singer-songwriter with the band Donna and the Aspinauts, and is also screenwriter of the upcoming film: ‘Nobody Nowhere’.
Professor Tony Attwood
Tony is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in autism spectrum disorders since he qualified as a clinical psychologist in England in 1975. He works in private practice in Brisbane, but is also adjunct professor at Griffith University, Queensland. His book Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals has sold over 300,000 copies and has been translated into twenty languages. He has worked with over 3,000 individuals of all ages with Asperger’s syndrome. Tony presents workshops and runs training courses for parents, professionals and individuals with Asperger’s syndrome all over the world and is a prolific author of scientific papers and books on the subject. His book The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome was published in October 2006.
Dr Wendy Lawson
Dr. Wendy Lawson MAPS, internationally renowned and respected professional, is a researcher, psychologist, writer and poet with high functioning Autism. She has presented internationally and published many journal articles and written several books including her autobiography and everyday text on Autism. Her work explores the influence of neurological development in individuals with Autism with reference to impact upon learning styles.
At school Wendy was considered to be intellectually disabled and ‘almost incapable of doing as she is told’. In her teens, she was misdiagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’. This label stuck for more than 25 years, until she was diagnosed in 1994 as being on the autism spectrum.
In 2008 Wendy was awarded fourth place as ‘Victorian Australian of the year’. As a writer, poet and adult educator, Wendy is well known both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Becoming a psychologist and sharing her knowledge, understanding and experience of life encounters, including Autism and Asperger’s diff-abilities, is an ongoing journey that Wendy welcomes.
Wendy knows what it means to represent others and advocate on their behalf. The mother of four children, two of her sons are also on the autistic spectrum. Wendy is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves and aims to promote justice and equality for all.
Wendy’s presentations explore AS, social demand and how to bridge some of the gaps so AS individuals can truly be involved with an inclusive society.
Dr Michelle Garnett
Michelle is a clinical psychologist and Founder and Director of ‘Minds & Hearts: A Specialist Clinic for Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism.’ The clinic was born through her passion for understanding autism spectrum conditions (ASC), and her strong desire to be part of positive change for people who have ASCs and their families. Michelle thoroughly enjoys working in this area as a diagnostician, therapist, consultant, mentor, clinical supervisor, workshop presenter, and researcher. She has specialized in autism spectrum conditions for the past 17 years, developing expertise in all subtypes of autism across all ages. Michelle created the first screening instrument for Asperger’s Syndrome, the Australian Scale for Asperger’s Syndrome (ASAS) in 1993. She obtained a PhD for her research into ASC, diagnosis and families in 2007 from the University of Queensland, Australia. She offers training in ASCs for postgraduate clinical students for 4 Australian Universities. Michelle has been an invited speaker at many national and international conferences and workshop events, including New Zealand, England, Wales, Norway, Portugal & Slovenia.
‘Sarah speaks Asperger as a second language.’ Tony Attwood
Sarah has both extensive knowledge and personal understanding of ASC and other disabilities, living with her partner Keith who has Asperger Syndrome and herself having Dyslexia. Together they wrote ‘Asperger Syndrome - A Love Story’ and Sarah is also co-author of a number of other books including ‘Love, Sex and Relationships - What People with Asperger Syndrome Really, Really Want’.
Sarah is the Training Manager for the Aspire Project (an adult AS mentoring and training project based in Brighton and Hove), a freelance trainer and consultant in AS, Autism and Dyslexia, and a qualified Further Education teacher supporting students with Dyslexia and other disabilities. She holds a Postgraduate Certificate in AS and an MA in Autism and is a speaker at both UK and overseas conferences. She has delivered training and consultancy to government departments, psychiatrists, National Autistic Society, police, schools, colleges, universities, care providers, careers services and management consultants.
Sarah also carries out adult assessments on those who believe they may have Asperger Syndrome, workplace assessments and consultancy to employers and coaching to adults and families of those with AS and Autism to increase their understanding of the condition and help them feel positive about it. As a trainee stand-up comedian, her training and speeches are always entertaining and highly enjoyable.