Autistic author shares his life experiences in frank and honest Q&A at university
An autistic author who has gone on to achieve great things has shared his life experiences to mark World Autism Awareness Week.
Andrew Edwards, of Gwersyllt, near Wrexham, gave a question and answer session at Wrexham Glyndwr University on Wednesday (April 6) focusing on his new book I’ve Got a Stat For You: My Life with Autism.
At the event Andrew was asked questions by Conservative Party AM candidate for Wrexham, Andrew Atkinson who helped organise the Q&A and by the audience attended by people with autism or parents of an autistic child.
Asked about his time at school, Andrew said: “St Christopher’s School was fantastic. The teachers encouraged me to do what I wanted to achieve but it was a chequered past in other schools.
“Between schools mum taught me, she was a real inspiration, many others would have given up.”
Wrexham’s National Autistic Society (NAS) Branch who also helped organise the event revealed 99 per cent of people in the UK have heard of autism but only 16 per cent of autistic people and their families said the public understands how it affects behaviour.
Andrew was diagnosed with autism at four-years-old with his mother, Hazel, being told by the specialist, “Go home and watch Rain Man, in all probability your son will be institutionalised”.
Asked about whether he thinks there is more awareness of the condition and support, Andrew said: “Even though only 16 per cent know what Autism really is we’ve actually come a far way from when I was younger, so there is much better awareness now.
“But to be honest there is no real support for adults with Autism, I think it will take a whole generation. The services are better but it is still terrible and needs to improve. There are people slipping through the cracks, I think some people aren’t living they’re existing. I dread to think it but without such a great family I could have ended up in prison.”
Speaking about the successful event, Mr Atkinson said: "Andrew was just amazing, he was frank and honest, funny and straightforward and inspired a lot of people, the feedback I've had has been superb.
"Andrew wanted to do this event as part of World Autism Awareness Week and didn't want to charge so that he could have no obstacle to raising awareness, as such the event would not have been possible without the support of Wrexham Glyndwr University who did not charge anything to support the event.
"My thanks also go out to Wrexham NAS who were a big support to me organising the event."
Kelly McLeod-Andrews, from the Wrexham Branch of NAS, said: "It was a pleasure to hear Andrew speak. He was able to give an insight in to his life with autism.
“As a parent of an autistic child, seeing Andrew and the accomplishments he has made as an adult, gives me hope and inspiration for my own child. Andrew's insights and experiences were very beneficial and gave me greater understanding of the challenges that autistic people can face and also the family that supports them.”
I've Got A Stat Four You: My Life With Autism is available from Amazon and Waterstones in Wrexham, for £9.99, or on Kindle for £6.99.