My journey starts with life in Dubai when a beautiful baby was born in the pleasant month of April. He had the most perfectly fresh - soft skin, the beautiful form and the vacant eyes. As a new mother with no previous experience of motherhood I was overjoyed by his look of perfection but baffled by the thought of not knowing what my baby wanted. The bonding, the eye contact, the sharing of joy, the security of attachment was all a constant puzzlement.

The first years were difficult as my baby had difficulties with sleeping, with understanding language or gestures and playing appropriately. He was hyperactive and didn’t know when to wind down and sounds or screams conveyed a fiercely aggressive mind that lay beneath the innocent beauty. Every step was a challenge, and then came the diagnosis of Autism when it all fell into place. Why does he prefer to be alone? Why does he cry for no reason? Why does he not talk? - the list goes on.

This is the time when my life had to take a different course to decide on how best to help Steven with the enormous challenges of Autism. The decision to help Steven was an easy one but the challenges were endless. Was I to continue working with Steven or was I to give up? - the answer was clear as Steven needed desperate help to gain a chance to lead a fulfilling life. I started teaching Steven when he was two and a half years old, when he was in a world of his own, unaware of the world beyond his immediate needs.

To bring Steven out of his world meant showing him the joys of life. I observed him at every opportunity to learn everything about him and how he felt.  I learned that Steven had an interest in animals - horses and elephants in particular - music and Disney. These were areas that helped teach Steven to learn that there was joy outside his world that given a chance he could enjoy and be a part of. Once he learned to recognise and see what the world had to offer him he became a happier and less tormented child.

With so much hope for Steven’s future we returned to the UK when he was six years old.  Through a lack of support with his educational needs at school, it became evident over the years that Steven was not making progress. This is what led me to write my book “No Matter What” to find a way to help him. Now at sixteen, through a failure of the system I have decided to teach Steven myself to give him a chance to lead a happy and fulfilling life.
Sandy Howarth (Author of "No Matter What" Autism)