One of our dads, Michael, who visits family sessions at The Yard Dundee with sons Liam and Mikenzie, shares his experience of going through the the autism diagnosis process.

"Now aged 11, my eldest son Liam was just 22 months old and not meeting his developmental milestones when it was first thought there could be a significant reason for this. My wife, Gill, kept saying that something wasn’t right but I believed that he would be fine. Going through the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) assessment process was difficult for us as parents, as it looked at certain things he 'should' have been able to complete, but I felt in a clinical setting Liam was just like me and didn’t want to perform for the person watching him.

"Gill was so relieved when the diagnosis of autism came back and I was a bit taken aback. Gill was so relieved that she could stop wondering if it was or wasn’t, and I just didn’t want my son to labelled with a 'tag' and assumptions placed upon him of what he could or couldn’t do.

"As the diagnosis had time to be understood fully, I found it to actually be a positive for Liam, in that it made me look into what challenges Liam with autism may face as he grows up. It also got me to be more aware of what support was available for my son in the community, and gave me direction to ensure he was given all the support in nursery and primary education that he needs to get the most out of the experience and be happy day-to-day.

"One of the things that Liam struggles with is being by himself in social situations. We as parents have learnt to try and develop Liam's ability to cope with change in routine, and that it's okay for things to be different, so that his anxieties are minimised.

"Finding The Yard has helped Liam move forward enormously, as the different experiences it has exposed him to and the environment it has, allowed him to take on different things he would have not been able to do elsewhere, in a safe and secure setting.

"Every day Liam amazes me with his ability to get people to engage with him on a level where he is in control and talking about topics that are his interests. He is such a social and loving boy that I find it very hard when he is in a meltdown, as I can't take away this overwhelming feeling he must be going through at that point and tell him everything will be okay.

"Liam's younger brother Mikenzie is asking questions about why Liam behaves in certain ways and why is he upset. He has also said to me that he wishes he could take Liam's autism away so he didn’t feel sad at times, and also so Liam could like wrestling and football, like him. But there have been some magical moments when Mikenzie has brought Liam into his world of pretend play and imagination.

"Liam is now in P7, about to move to high school, and the strides and achievements Liam has made since his diagnosis and what they said he may not do, are fantastic. I thought I would have to teach my son about the world - but it turns out I need to teach the world about my son."