During Autism Awareness Week, we are sharing stories from our families. This is Donna's story - she brings her son Luke to our family sessions in Edinburgh.

"As many families know, diagnosis can be such a difficult time. I found it made me question everything about myself as a mother - was I doing everything right? Was I too overprotective? Had I mollycoddled Luke too much and contributed to his difficulties? Then there are the countless doctors' appointments. One appointment sticks in my mind, where lots of people were sitting around Luke, discussing amongst themselves their thoughts, writing things down, and I was wondering what these people were thinking and writing.

"It's scary to know your child is being tested for anything, let alone a neurological condition that at the time I knew nothing about. On the day of Luke's diagnosis appointment, I was terrified. Half of me hoped they would say there was nothing wrong with my son, but deep down I knew there was something not quite right and I was worried that they would miss it.

"Luke was then diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After diagnosis, I felt a range of emotions. I felt numb, disconnected from the present situation; I could just not take it in. I felt sad, Luke's future flashing before my eyes and all the difficulties he may face. I had just been told my perfect little boy was not okay and that he had a neurological disorder. The closest way to explain the coming days was like grieving; I was grieving a life I had envisioned for him and that life had been shattered into a million pieces now. We were faced with this new life and I was scared I didn't know how to reach Luke. He was locked in his own little world - we could sit so close together yet we were so many miles apart.

"With Luke's diagnosis, I felt that learning about autism empowered me. If I could gain knowledge about his condition, I could learn to understand why he does what he does. I now do online courses and I am looking forward to doing the one at The Yard in June! I am confident in saying I have a good understanding of Luke's autism. No two people with autism are presented with the same difficulties; it is such a broad spectrum.

"I reached out to many charities, lots of them saying Luke was not old enough to benefit from any kind of support from them, and many times I felt I was fighting a losing battle. Then I found The Yard and we went for our first visit. I watched all the children and young people running around and I thought, 'I can't let Luke do that!' I had grown used to helicoptering over him and not letting him out of my arm's reach. The staff assured me that the outdoor area was safe, secure and he couldn't escape, and in time, I learned to let go just a bit at a time.

"The Yard has been a haven for me and Luke; we can even go as a family at the weekends. It has made such a difference to our lives, and has helped me learn to let go a bit and to let Luke gain independence. With the support from the staff, I can even let him go out of my sight for a few minutes, and that's something I never thought I would do. It's only thanks to The Yard creating this environment that I am able to do this. It's truly inspiring the work this charity does. The staff and volunteers are fantastic - I cannot praise them highly enough. Thank you for all you do, you will never know the difference you have made to me and countless families."