Izzy Ross was diagnosed with autism at the very young age of two and a half years old.

Her mum, Paula noticed some symptoms when she was just one years old and after reading a book about autism Paula was very sure that her daughter was presenting with some signs of autism and took her to a doctor.

Once Izzy had been diagnosed, the paediatrician told her mum that Izzy was ‘the worst child in Essex.’ Paula said that those words were gut wrenching and have stayed with her ever since.

Izzy is now a happy 25-year-old, although she does still need a lot of support.  Izzy has selective mutism and some very challenging behavioural issues around anxiety. She has a love of all things Disney and very much enjoys art and sewing.

Reflecting on her daughter’s childhood, Paula shares that the paediatrician had also told her that her daughter has one of the most ‘severe forms of autism.’

Paula said:

I had to learn to understand autism myself and how I could support my daughter. I worked to educate myself on the best ways to help her and worked through a therapy programme with her. It was an extremely difficult and stressful time.

Izzy began to attend a nursery at the age of four and a half and then went on to attend a school and college in Chelmsford with SEN (special educational needs) provision.

Despite Izzy’s challenging behaviour, she was and is extremely intelligent and observant.  She had learnt to pick locks from a very young age - and she was quick!

She could out-think, out-wit and out-run most children and adults, thankfully she had an incredibly good and patient teacher.

She would often try and run from school or her home. Paula has been grateful to her wonderful neighbours who would keep an eye out for Izzy, and it’s because of this that they have never moved to a new house.

Luckily, she would normally run to places she knew, such as the local park or around her cul-de-sac.  Although there were occasions, she would make it to the house roof and be standing on it balancing on one leg.

Paula said:

We realised she was masking her learning and fantastic memory to be able to manipulate some situations, using aggression to keep people away from her.

Pictured: Paula & Izzy Ross

Once Izzy left college at 21, her parents began looking for somewhere that could continue to help support Izzy. As an adult, Izzy does display behaviour that often appears aggressive and that along with her difficulty in communicating can prove very difficult for those around her if they do not understand her.

It was important to her parents that they could find somewhere that would understand autism and take the time to work with and understand Izzy. This is when they found Autism Anglia.  Based in Colchester, the Autism Anglia Jigsaw Centre is a specialist day centre for adults with an autism diagnosis.

The centre provides activities to support well-being, day to day living and much more.  The expert team at Autism Anglia worked with Paula to create a gradual transition for Izzy.  Izzy settled into the Jigsaw Centre quicker than expected.

Paula said:

They really listened to what Izzy was like and took the time to ensure she was comfortable there. Nothing is too much trouble; they are incredibly professional, and they understand my child. It’s the one place she can go to independently from us or her PA and we know we don’t have to worry about her, she loves going in.

Although the Jigsaw Centre is currently closed due to the lockdown, this has not stopped the Autism Anglia team continuing to help.

Paula said:

They have been incredibly supportive and have gone above and beyond to ensure we are all ok. They have been a lifeline to us, particularly in lockdown. The team call regularly and continue to provide personalised activities that can be completed by Izzy at home. Without them we would have been severely impacted and it’s through this lockdown that I have realised even more, how much they understand my daughter.

Autism Anglia is a regional charity that provides education and support to autistic adults and children and their families throughout East Anglia. CLICK HERE to find out more about the Autism Anglia Jigsaw centre.

With 2020 being such a difficult year for everyone, Autism Anglia is, like most, hoping for a better 2021 - so it is with this optimism that the team are launching a campaign to bring some positivity to the community. 

Autism Anglia is challenging individuals, local organisations, and businesses to take on a personal 21 themed goal to raise money for the charity. 

You have just over a month to complete your 21 Challenge before it culminates on World Autism Awareness Day which is Friday 2nd April 2021.

As well as raising vital funds for Autism Anglia, all participants will receive a certificate. But as a further incentive, those raising £21 or more will be awarded a ‘21 Challenge’ medal.  Special prizes will also be awarded to teams of friends or colleagues who raise over £2,021.

Help Autism Anglia to make 2021 a better place for people with autism. 

For more information or to sign up to the 21 challenge CLICK HERE