“No Matter What” is a book which takes you through one of life’s toughest challenges. It’s a journey through Autism where the author Sandy Howarth is a mother who sacrifices everything with a hope of finding help for her son Steven. The author’s son is diagnosed with autism at two and a half years of age. She and her family lives in Dubai at the time and she realises that nothing could ever compare to the trauma that she has had to endure in learning that her beautiful son suffers from autism. This comes at a time when she is contemplating returning to work as an Interior Designer.
With the shock of the diagnosis she abandons any thoughts of a career and takes it upon herself to teach her son at home. She uses her creative skills to produce material to encourage Steven to learn and educates herself on the various teaching strategies and the subject of Autism. Sandy works continuously with her son to see rapid progress in him learning new skills. When Steven turns five years old the author is blessed with a beautiful baby daughter named Riana. She continues to work with Steven while watching the delight that her baby daughter brings to Steven. He is intrigued and fascinated with her little squirming movements.
There is a lack of specialist teaching for Autism in Dubai and the author decides to take a stand to return to the UK with her two children. This is a tough decision as she doesn’t have the same level of support in London that she had in Dubai. She has to cope with her Autistic son and her baby daughter on her own. She finds that what she had hoped for her son from the UK education system is not what it turns out to be. She battles with the Local Education Authority to obtain the provision that Steven desperately needs and feels frustrated in knowing his potential.
Here is a book which covers as much ground on Autism that can be found in any one book. It speaks of the medical aspect, parental responses, the true meaning of Autism, link to the MMR vaccine, therapy in education, battle for rights to education, developing life skills and research on the subject. In making “No Matter What” a valuable book Sandy offers examples of her own experience throughout the book.
The book is written to assist and offer support to families, to create awareness of the subject of Autism and to demonstrate the complexities in brain development; it outlines the first hand experience that has been gained from her son Steven. A technique which Sandy uses effectively throughout the book to convey the nature and depth of the disability is drawing comparisons between ‘typical’ development and ‘Autistic’ development.
Steven has remained in an educational setting provided by the LEA for the past eight years and made no progress. Now at sixteen years of age Sandy has decided to teach Steven herself once again. This is not an easy option but she feels the system has failed him and that she wishes to provide her son with the chance to live and show how much he is capable of achieving.
The author hopes to pick up from where she left off when Steven was taught at home at the age of seven and through this book she hopes to help other parents to appreciate what they can achieve with their children through perseverance and love.
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