My name is Paul and I’m Emilia’s Dad. Emilia is 7 years old and was diagnosed with autism when she was aged two and a half. We live in Kent with her Mum and big sister, Madeleine.

Emilia with her big sister Madeleine

Family life

Emilia was diagnosed quite early because of delays in her speech development. Her language ability is still much lower than others her age but she can make herself understood which is very important to us. She certainly has no problems getting what she wants!

Emilia is a very happy, cheeky, affectionate girl – we get lots of cuddles. She loves spending time outdoors, paddling in the sea or running about in the woods.

She attends a special needs school with children of varying disabilities, although many have autism. We were not sure if this was a good idea at first but she is so happy there, we know we’ve made the right decision.


Emilia can’t tell us if she is hurt or unwell so we have to look out for signs.

On one occasion we noticed that she was quite agitated so took her to the doctor. We had to be quite firm to get them to investigate further. It turned out that she had put some foam up her nose and it had become infected. It’s times like this you think ‘what if’.

Like many children with autism she hates the sensory feeling of brushing her teeth, or going to the dentist. We’ve found ways of helping her to cope and calm down but it’s not easy for her or for us.

She is so reliant upon us to make sure she takes care of herself and gets any treatment she needs.

Finding Autistica

We first got involved with Autistica after taking part in a study at Birmingham University before Emilia had a formal diagnosis.

They agreed with us that she was showing all the signs that pointed towards a diagnosis of autism and provided a letter which helped us to get a formal diagnosis.

We were struck by the kindness and warmth that was shown to her and us as a family during the study. They really valued the unique charm that we see in her.

Research for an independent future

I’ve completed three half-marathons to raise money for Autistica. Not because I’m a fan of running – far from it, I just want to do what I can to raise money and awareness of autism and the need for research.

I’m so pleased that Autistica’s research is looking into language and communication and physical health in autism.

If research can help autistic people to communicate better, children like Emilia can look forward to a happy, more independent future