Val is 51 years old. When Val was younger autism was not a well-understood condition at the time and Val was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic.

Partly due to this misdiagnosis Val’s behaviour was misunderstood and mistreated for a long time. When she was 35, Val was sent away from home. After spending a short and unhappy period in a hospital for mentally ill people, Val moved into a community house. The misunderstandings and mistreatment continued, Val would get frustrated with her situation, become agitated and find it harder and harder to communicate.

The turning point

Val finally got a correct diagnosis in 1999 – she wasn’t schizophrenic, she had Asperger’s syndrome. The following year Val began working with Autism Initiatives and for the first time in a long time, got to make choices for herself.

Following a series of meetings with Autism Initiatives Val decided to move to Southport – and it looks like it was a great choice. Having experienced some of the worst kind of support in the past, she now enjoys some of the best and crucially, she’s also helping Autism Initiatives and other providers improve their service even further.

Learning through experience

Val has worked closely with members of the Autism Initiatives team to develop a comprehensive training session. It’s designed to get people to think about how they can support successful communication with people with autism and has the potential to vastly improve outcomes, both for individuals with autism and those who provide support.

Val has also given presentations to other organisations, including the local Chambers of Commerce and Halton Borough Council, so even more people can learn from her experience – in fact, she gave a presentation in the Isle of Man, where her own journey first started. One attendee called Val’s presentation the “best autism training I’ve been on”. Another said that it was “a very enjoyable and informative course... with the right support this could be achieved by many”.

As for Val, she simply says that:

“I am really happy with my life now... I am being the best I can be and the staff support me with this every day.”

This is just one example of the great work we do to support people with autism. To find out how we could help you, visit our contact us page or complete the enquiry form

  You can also download this case study here