Friday, 6 March 2009


Eight years later and in some ways I know so much more. Over 40 workshops and courses. NVQ3 and NVQ 4 in Health & Social Care. NVQ Assessors Award Level 4 Award in Health & Social Care. The Registered Manager's Award in Health & Social Care. And in other ways.....I know absolutely nothing. I have listened. Talked. Laughed. Cried. Been punched and kicked senseless, (though no more so than any of my colleagues), eg. broken nose, dislocated elbow, internal bleeding....frequently covered in faeces, urine, vomit, blood, saliva and most meals that ever appeared on a menu. I have attended countless seminars, read thesis after thesis, trawled through every paper, website, documentary, clips, dvds, . . . . . . . . . .just hoping to find some kind of answer. All I, (think I), know is that every person with autism is different. Every 'autism' different.
That first manager taught me a valuable lesson. Well, he taught me more than one.....but this was perhaps the most valuable...."learn the person....not the autism." "If you learn the person you'll learn his autism at the same time." Thank you Nick Stone.
And, while I'm in 'thank you' mode......John Mortlock. He lectured on my very first course. Two days passed like 2 minutes. Utterly captivating.
We sat in that Exeter hotel conference room. He surveyed us all. I was the newest recruit. He asked, "do you realise how lucky you are?"
"In 1943 the Austrian psychiatrist Dr. Leo Kanner was the first physician in the world to be identified as a child psychiatrist, founder of the first academical child psychiatry department at John Hopkins University Hospital and his first textbook, Child Psychiatry in 1935, was the first English language textbook to focus on the psychiatric problems of children. His seminal 1943 paper, "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact", together with the work of Hans Asperger, forms the basis of the modern study of autism". "That was just 58 years ago. In the history of time...and in the history of medicine...that is like yesterday. It is like minutes ago! You, my friends, are in at the very BEGINNING of the story of autism! It is perfectly fact, it is very may see something...hear something...or recognise something...on your very first day...about autism...that no-one else has noted yet!!" "How amazing is THAT??"
At that moment I realised that turning down that other prestigious job for one that paid only a third as much had been the best decision of my life. I have never regretted it for one second. Thank you John Mortlock. I have passed your passionate words on to countless new recruits and will continue to do so.


  1. Learn the person not the autism.
    I wish more people would realise that!

  2. Oh my goodness, that really could have been me writing this. I had a very similar experience with John Mortlock myself and also turned down a much better paid job. The training I recieved was priceless and will always stay with me. I am still in the same field of work and have never had a training day like Johns since. I would love for my collegues who are new in the field to experience it as I feel the people I support would improve dramatically!!