August 2008

On a rainy August day in 2008  Evan and I attended our first ‘autism friendly’ activity.

A picnic in the park arranged by the autism support worker.

Evan was 4 years old and I  vividly remember at that time every aspect of daily life was an exhausting uphill battle.

I was struggling to come to terms with his diagnosis and we were very much still trying to find our feet.

Only one other family turned up. The Thorntons.  Mum Lynne, Dad Andy, 3 year old Jack and baby Emily.

The day was a total washout long before the rain began to fall..

The support worker had prepared a vast selection of fruit and healthy snacks for the occasion, although very well meaning perhaps a little ambitious and somewhat naïve.

Both boys ignored the food and each other and went about their business in the play park. It was almost impossible to have a conversation with Lynne as we were both in hot pursuit of our boys preventing either escape, injury or both!

Then the heavens opened. As the rain poured down we were forced to abandon the park( and the table laden with  neat slices of untouched water melon & strawberries) and stood huddled in a bus shelter on the Penrith road.

I lived only minutes away but Evan would not have coped with  unplanned visitors in the house, so reluctantly we said our goodbyes.

Lynne was the first autism mum I had met.  I didn’t want to leave her.

November  2014

In November I received a message from Lynne asking if we could meet up for a coffee and  chat about  home-schooling.

We had kept in sporadic touch over the years through the grapevine of the autism community and although we had only met in person once since that rainy August day we kept up to date with each others lives via Facebook. Some years earlier I learned Lynne’s daughter Emily had also been diagnosed with autism.

Both of Lynne’s Children currently attend an autism specific facility( base unit) attached to a local primary school, where they are both settled and happy.

However with Jack now in year 5  preparation for  his transition to senior school was underway. Lynne needed to find and name the secondary school she felt would best meet his needs.

It was at this point she realised that there was simply nowhere suitable for Jack.

She felt her only options were to consider moving out of the county or to home educate him.

Within moments of being in each others company again it was clear both Lynne and I were equally passionate about autism both wanting nothing more than our children to receive an appropriate education in an appropriate environment that will help them prepare for their future lives.

We discussed home schooling and the progress Evan had made but quickly realised this was due to the environment being tailored to his needs and the curriculum modified in order for him to learn!

That was the EUREKA moment…

The moment the idea for a free school the Cumbria Academy for Autism was born!


“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on      building the new.”
















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One Response to EUREKA!

  1. Alix says:

    YES! Wonderful! :)

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