Autism Birmingham marked its first anniversary with a ball supported by Kylie Minogue, the Hollyoaks cast and footballing legend Trevor Francis. Clare Bryden, 32, from Great Barr, explains how the charity has been a lifeline for her seven-year-old son Rhys.
We had five years of sleepless nights before Rhys was finally diagnosed with autism.
He had suffered health problems since he was a baby and was lactose intolerant.
He also had chronic eczema which often became so itchy that it would wake him up.
Then he would scratch it until it bled and it would become infected.
Rhys was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome around the same time that doctors told us he was autistic.
He was suffering a lot with leg pain before he started school and was unable to tell us.
We would put him to bed at 7pm, the same time as his elder brother Conor, only to find him walking around, getting his toys out, finding pens and drawing on the walls.
Then he would finally drop off to sleep, only to be up again at 3am to start all over again.
By the time he was two-and-a-half years-old we realised something was not right.
Rhys couldn’t communicate properly and seemed to have delayed development compared to Connor.
When Rhys started pre-school, the teachers asked if we’d noticed anything different about him.
They said he didn’t seem able to control his behaviour like other children.