Melissa Nash is a mum to two children, and her eldest Toby was diagnosed with Autism at age 4.
“My lowest point was at a Tesco’s. Toby could go in any Tesco’s in the western world except for our local one. We got in the door and he started screaming, over and over, and it got louder and louder and the rest of the store was getting quieter and quieter. Eventually I was approached by the manager, who was very understanding and I said, I just need this – whatever it was. And she said ‘just have it and go,’ and I left the store sobbing. I didn’t go out for a good couple of years after that.”
“I learned that you can’t spontaneously do anything; a day trip for example has to be planned with military precision,” said Melissa.
“In mainstream school he just couldn’t cope. He would sit under his desk. I would collect him and he would throw his bag at me, spit in my face; just the anxiety of the day was too much for him.
“Once he changed from mainstream school to supported school, he knew instinctively that was the place for him, he became much calmer and more accepting of the way things were.”Continue reading Carer Story: Mel & Toby→
Sue Judge is a parent carer who looks after her son, Tobias, who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s, along with her other two children. Sue has struggled with the idea of calling herself a ‘carer’ to her son, despite his additional needs that demand more of her than a typical parent.
‘It’s a constant stress that is always there,’ Sue says, of being a carer. ‘I can’t leave Tobias on his own in the house. Caring for someone is a day in, day out job that doesn’t go away and that can be part of why it’s so difficult.’
Through her work, Sue meets many carers and says people often feel the same way as she did.
‘I’ve found it’s an incredibly common theme for people to feel like it’s ‘just their job’ to look after someone – particularly if it’s their child,’ says Sue. ‘And I say to those people that if you don’t look after yourself you can’t give, you can’t pour from a cup which is empty. There is help and support out there.’
When Sue’s mother became ill in 2014 and also needed looking after, Sue had to stop her work as a nutritional therapist for some time.