A Beautiful Email To Receive

It was very busy on the presentation front last week. I spoke at the Wandsworth Autism Fayre on Wednesday and delivered one of a series of training workshops for Lambeth Borough Council on Thursday. On Saturday, I delivered training to foster carers in Birmingham. I get great feedback, which is often very moving and validates the work I do. A couple of days ago, I received an email from a mother who attended my Wednesday talk and I’m going to copy the entire email below:

“We met briefly after your inspirational talk at the above named event last week. My son and I were sitting in the front row, and you almost brought me to tears with your wisdom, bravery and vulnerability. We were both truly touched, especially after you so kindly spoke to my son (who has struggled throughout his life). 

Just wanted to reach out and thank you again.  

Wishing you the best and hoping to see you speak more.” 


  1. Tracey Barnes

    Hi Laurie

    I attended your talk at our staff away day which took place at the the Blenheim Children and Family Centre in Orpington yesterday.

    I was the blubbering, sobbing, big black lady who spoke to you briefly at the end. Sue Spinks sent me your link earlier today.

    Your talk was like watching my 7 year old son speak to me in the future. It hit me deep in my soul and all the emotions came flooding out.

    I am a single mum who works full time. I am the eldest of 5 children and my mum was a Foster Mother, Nurse and Social Worker. I thought that when I had my son it was going to be so easy and I was going to be an expert on raising a child. Very early on I noticed things were different.

    When I spoke to relatives and some (ex friends) from my BAME circle as well as some of my older female friends of various ethnicities … I was told not to be so silly (why label your child) and that it was just a discipline problem. “A good slap or time out will sort out those tantrums’ I was told many, many times!

    Time out didn’t work, Super Nanny techniques didn’t work, a good slap on the bottom didn’t work either…in fact it made it a LOT WORSE! I admit I smacked him once (on the bottom) and he went around the house saying” You hurt me, why did you hurt me? Do you wish I was dead, do you wish the angels gave you a good little boy instead of me?” Those words hit me in the chest and I never smacked his bottom again!

    During your talk you mentioned that some parents would try to train the autism out of their children. Wow, I felt that one… I was guilty of that one too!

    I forced my son to look at people when they are talking to him. He now does this crazy forced stare which was picked up by the Educational Psychologist.

    I keep trying to get him to stop pacing, stop avoiding the cracks on the pavement, wear shoes etc that irritate him, etc. He stops one repetitive habit then replaces it with a new one immediately…the new one is biting his nails and carrying a lego mini figure EVERYWHERE he goes (I have to buy identical back ones….just in case!).

    I had big plans for him when he was born and tried extra curricula activities that all ended in disaster because of a meltdown or he would run away or hide. In the case of sports club I was told that he would hide under the stage of the hall with his hands over his ears crying because of the noise.

    He speaks very well and is obsessed with Lego, reading (Roald Dahl books) and Spiderman. Doesn’t like writing, sports or anything other than the 3 things mentioned…he can talk ‘at you ‘ (you don’t even have to be in the same room) at great length about those subjects in great detail.

    After 2 exclusions for meltdowns I spoke to some of the Practioners at work who said that it sounds like autism.

    I then went back to the school who by then had a new SENCO who agreed with me. The good news is that now he is enjoying school, has a TA and a visual timetable broken up into manageable chunks. I am now recognising the triggers and I am seeking help.

    After witnessing me breakdown at your talk yesterday my managers have agreed to send on a course for parents of autistic children. They didn’t realise what I have been going through. I felt so ashamed and so alone…until your talk set me free!

    I still have big plans for my son… Just different ones! The main goals are for my little boy to be happy, confident, have a positive self image, great mental health, find something he loves to do and be proud to be different! I will be working on myself to be the best support for him and fight for what he needs to get him where he wants to be!

    I apologise for the very long email, it has taken years to get it off my chest and you have given me back my fight.

    I got home and kissed the living daylights out my little boy with tears in my eyes while saying sorry (repeatedly). He thought I had lost my mind and kept looking at me with suspicion whilst running away laughing! Ha ha!

    Laurie, you have changed our lives enormously!

    Thank you so much

  2. Laurie

    Wow! Tracey, this is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad you got masses out of my workshop. I learn lots, too. One of the things I would like to do is run a workshop for parents of autistic children. Parents are given so little support after diagnosis and ordinary parenting skills groups don’t really address the issues we face. I’ll email you privately and put you in touch with a contact I have in the BAME community in your area. She has been through many situations similar to the ones you face. Thank you so much for your comments. I’m so pleased you found my workshop helpful.

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