Berkshire, UK – A few weeks back we ran a story about a young man with autism ‘Teen with Asperger’s creates amazing photorealistic drawings’. It was while reading this article that one of our readers, Rosalind Brewer, contacted us to tell us about her son’s stunning wildlife photography. Reuben, 24, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 14. He took an e-learning photography course shortly after taking his GCSEs, and his love of photography grew from there.
I got in touch with Rosalind and Reuben, as I wanted to ask some questions about his early life, and in particular, what inspired him to start taking photographs.
Rosalind stared by telling me about Reuben’s early years, life at school and eventual diagnosis.
Sadly as Reuben was diagnosed late at the age of 14, Rosalind received no help and support other than from her parents, who were incredibly supportive. School in particular was a difficult time for Reuben as he was bullied.
Rosalind explained that: “Nursery school and school in general was very difficult for Reuben, he didn’t make friends and he was constantly being bullied. He had difficulty coping away from me.”
Reuben also had difficulty in climbing ropes, tying shoelaces and using cutlery.
“Reuben had a problem eating, and still has. Foods must not touch each other and must be on different plates, textures and taste of food also is difficult for him,” Rosalind told me.
As well as being diagnosed with autism, Reuben also has a diagnosis of OCD, but Rosalind believes this to be more ‘tactile defensiveness’, which unfortunately means that Reuben cannot hug or kiss his mother.
It was not until Reuben started at high school that he received a Statement of Educational Needs, and this was only achieved by Rosalind pushing for it. She was also helped by IPSEA (Independent Panel Special Educational Advice). This was in November 2004.
However during the summer of 2004, Reuben suffered a breakdown and was never able to cope in a school environment again. This was also when he received his official diagnosis. During the next five and a half years, Reuben was taught behind his bedroom door by home in hospital tutors, with help once a week from a speech and language therapist (SALT).
Rosalind further told:
“With the SALT’s who trained as an invigilator, Reuben was allowed to take his exams at home in our living room, I was also allowed to be present. This was because Reuben could not cope with the therapist looking at him, she had her back to him all of the time.”
My interview with Reuben continues next.