Raising the Profile of Autism in Southend

Sir David met with Pam Cottle, a new local author, and charity workers to promote Autism Awareness Week on Tuesday 10 April.


Pam’s honest and inspiring new book was officially launched at the Autism Awareness Event held in Southend during 2018 Autism Awareness Week and Another Kind of Ordinary... and other books related to autism are currently displayed in The Forum library in the town centre.


Pam, who lives in Westcliff-on-Sea, writes:


“I was pleased to take part in this international campaign to promote awareness of autism and its effects on families everywhere, joining with local charities including SAFE and Southend Carers. We are grateful to Sir David Amess MP for his support and encouragement as we plan to make this an annual event in the town.”


Autism, which affects around 700,000 people in the UK, has recently been brought to our attention through the Chris Packham documentary and 'The A Word' series, shown on BBC 1. For some, these scenarios have become part of everyday life. As a mother, raising an autistic child, Pam has chosen to share her story of parenting, with its moments of triumph, despair, hope and determination as well as reflections on her experiences and on the unfolding future for her family.


“Ben does not look any different. He is good-looking, athletic and slim. Most of the time, with most people, he is charming, thoughtful, open, friendly and polite. Within the close family, his behaviour is sometimes very challenging. He usually maintains eye contact. His wider use of language conceals his limited ability to understand and process it. To you at a first glance, he looks like any other teenager, but he has learning difficulties and is autistic. This combination is a dangerous cocktail of conflict, confusion and vulnerability. It results in a life for our family where unpredictability is a constant and the potential for verbal and physical aggression is never absent. This mix has become our everyday; another kind of ordinary.


It is my story, but it is also the story of many mothers living with similar challenges - some of whom you will meet in your daily lives. There are no answers yet, only greater understanding and that comes through shared experience.”


Extract from the Preface, Another Kind of Ordinary… by Pam Cottle