Mum Katy Wilburn was initially devastated when son Sam was diagnosed with autism but Daisy Chain stepped in with support to help.
And Katy is so grateful as to how the autism charity has helped that she has stepped up to the plate to run the Simplyhealth Great North Run this year to raise funds.
Katy, from Stockton, is now in training for the famous half marathon in September and is determined to raise as much money as she can to give something back to Daisy Chain.
It was only when a family member who was also a health visitor asked first time mum Katy if she had noticed her two-year-old son did not respond to his name, that she considered something might be different.
“Sam met all his milestones – he walked and talked on time. I was a first-time mum and you don’t know exactly what to expect but when it was pointed out to me, I did notice,” she said.
“Sam had lots of language and knew lots of words but he didn’t have any social intent with it,’ Katy explains. ‘When he was diagnosed as autistic I was devastated.”
Katy says that even though she has a master’s degree in developmental psychology, and knew about autism in theory, she could not apply the condition to Sam.
“I could just see the ways in which he didn’t match the profile of being autistic. He is incredibly loving, likes cuddles and talks all the time. I was seeing all the traits which didn’t match with a diagnosis of autism.
“It was when Sam got a little older and started school that I started to recognise more how he was different from the other children and how much he was struggling.’
Katy first came to Daisy Chain to undertake the Early Bird Plus training course and says: “The course was incredibly helpful and it was also the first time I met other parents of children with autism which made a huge difference.”
Katy also began to bring Sam to the Saturday Activity Day: “That proved brilliant for Sam, his confidence really grew. I had struggled taking him to mainstream settings for fear he would not be able to cope and would get upset especially with his fear of other children.
“As he has got older, it is easier Sam attends an after-school social club at daisy Chain where he is now making friends and he loves the holiday activity sessions. He has just started the additional outdoor activity session and he is really liking that, he feels grown up joining in sessions with older kids.”
There are still a few places left to run the Great North Run for Daisy Chain – just call the events manager on 01642 531248 for more information or visit www.daisychainproject.co.uk/Event/great-north-run-2019