Autism Diagnosis was a relief – Echo 17th Sept. 2013
IAN JONES lives with his wife Laura, daughter Nieve and pet dog Betsy in Leigh. Nieve, nine, has autism and Ian, a graphic designer, has recently designed a pioneering reading app for iPads that aims to help parents and teachers of children with autism, dyslexia and other learning difficulties. We find out more about his family life.
What’s been the scariest moment as a parent so far?
“When Nieve was born, she was in intensive care for two weeks at Southend Hospital, because she swallowed meconium in the womb. It was touch and go if she’d survive.”
Was it a shock when she was diagnosed with autism?
“Not really, as we knew something wasn’t right. She was a wonderful baby and would sleep all night, but she never cried like other babies or jabbered away like her cousins. Then we started to notice the lack of eye contact and her pulling away when we tried to hug her. When the doctor told us she was in the middle spectrum for autism, it was almost a relief, because we knew what it was.”
What’s the most difficult thing about being a parent of an autistic child?
“I suppose it’s not being able to be spontaneous and having to stick to very regimented patterns. It can also be hard sometimes that Nieve doesn’t like being cuddled very much. But then on the other hand, she does some amazing things.”
“Well, she is very creative and loves to draw. A while ago her bedroom was full of her pictures, probably 1,000 of them. Then suddenly one morning, she decided she didn’t want them anymore and tore all of them down.
Then a few weeks later, she suddenly said ‘I want my pictures back’ and she spent that afternoon drawing them all again.”
Have you had a good response about the app?
“Yes, I’ve had positive feedback from people from the UK, France and even someone in Israel who asked if I’m going to produce an app in Hebrew! I never set out to create this app to make a business out if it. I did it to just make my little girl happy, but it’s great that it’s taken off.”
Do you have a favourite family book?
“There’s a book called the Reason I Jump that has come to mean a lot to us as a family. It looks at what autism is like from the view of a 13-year-old Japanese boy.”
Does Nieve like books?
“She does, but she struggles with words. Thats where the idea came to me for the app – when I was trying to read to her at bedtime. I suddenly realised Nieve was more able to follow the story when there was a concrete association between the words and a related image. The app is about creating an association with things through pictures.”
Do you have a favourite family film/TV show?
“We’ve never been able to sit down and watch a film with Nieve, as she has to watch what she wants and it’s the same thing over and over again – Moshi Monsters or the Backyardigans.”
Where do you like to go out as a family?
“It’s hard to get Nieve out sometimes as she likes her structures and routines, but when we do, it’s good to get her out into nature. We like Hadleigh Park a lot.”
What’s been the best family holiday so far?
“We recently went on a break to Center Parcs and Nieve loved it. Because it’s a real family place, it felt like a safe environment for her there and she had a good time.”
For more info about Ian’s app visit http://visualreadingapps.com