The launch of No Matter What by Sandy Howarth

                 Royal Garden Hotel Kensington, London                                                                  

17th September, 2009                                                      

The event was hosted by Sandy Howarth to support and raise awareness of autism through her story. The evening commenced with the registration of guests at 6pm with drinks served on arrival and the launch of No Matter What at 6.30pm. The guests   included medical and educational professionals, journalists, friends and family. The opening address was delivered by Andrea Riding (Steven’s god mother) followed by a few words from the author, a PowerPoint presentation of her son Steven’s journey and a thank you note. The talks ended at 7pm and the guests were ready for Steven’s arrival at 7.15pm. Steven arrived at the launch where he had a bottle of his favourite drink 7up waiting for him on arrival. In seeing the familiar faces he seemed happy but a little bit confused. His dad had arrived from Dubai to be in London for the day and his grandma and granddad had arrived from Sri Lanka. Following the initial confusion Steven was happy to watch the PowerPoint presentation of himself, walked around to meet the guests and sat and waited a while until he started to get tired and asked to go home. He left at 8pm and the evening continued with drinks and music by guitarist Osamu Yano. The evening was made extra special with the arrival of Keith Duffy (Boyzone) and Kevin Whelan (CEO Irish Autism Action).

Sandy spoke of giving up her career as an interior designer to care for Steven and stated that she has learnt more from her son than she could have learnt from any career. She highlighted the meaning of learning to understand and value what is real, and appreciating what really matters in life. The reason she decided to tell her story was to give strength to others in the same situation as herself. She hopes that her experience will help support and create awareness of the life long impact of Autism.

She explains that “No Matter What” is different to other books written on the subject as it views Autism from every angle. Her book has been written to help parents, families and carers to cope with Autism while assisting medical staff, education authorities and researchers to gain a true understanding of the condition from a parent’s perspective. Sandy’s book gives a positive approach to dealing with all the issues involved and looks to seeing a happier group of people in the future. Not to be drugged and forgotten but to be helped to achieve their maximum potential.

Through “No Matter What” the author hopes that parents will benefit from not just understanding Autism but how to cope with a life changing diagnosis.

The book outlines the struggles, the traumas, the guilt and denial but the emphasis is placed on love and hope and through the book Sandy wants to convey the message that where there is love there is hope.