Family's autism video blog
THE concept of celebrating Christmas without decorations or a tree would be unthinkable for most families.But the Frisby family in Great Yarmouth have learned that no amount of tinsel or sparkly angels is more important than having a strong family bond over the Yuletide season as they deal with the reality of autism.
THE concept of celebrating Christmas without decorations or a tree would be unthinkable for most families.
But the Frisby family in Great Yarmouth have learned that no amount of tinsel or sparkly angels is more important than having a strong family bond over the Yuletide season as they deal with the reality of autism.
Five-year-old Sam Frisby has the condition - which means dad Martin, mum Pamela and sister Amy, two, have got used to an unconventional Christmas as the youngster would otherwise climb up and pull down any festive displays.
But far from recoiling from the challenges of Sam's autism, the Blake Road family have shown it is possible to cope and are now launching a video blog showing a day in their lives to help other families in a similar position.
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Staff from the National Autistic Society visited the family two weeks ago to shoot the film, showing the complications arising from Sam's condition and how the family deal with it.The footage is available through the society's website.
When Sam's autism was confirmed by a doctor at the Newberry Centre in Gorleston in July 2007, his parents were initially overwhelmed by the prospect of dealing with a condition they knew very little about.
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Mr Frisby said: “We did not know what autism was, so it has been a huge learning curve for us.
“We knew Sam was different as a baby, but it was not until later that we were told he was autistic. In some ways it was a relief because we knew something was wrong, but when you see it in black and white and it is your child, it is heartbreaking. I broke down and cried and went through all the emotions.”
The 55-year-old, who runs Frisby's School of English in Great Yarmouth with his wife Pamela, 35, has learned how to deal with the complications, assisted by staff at the Newberry Centre, the Priory Children's Centre in Gorleston and John Grant
School in Caister, which Sam attends.
The couple have also received support from Cliff Park Community Church in Gorleston, where they worship.
Sam is unable to speak or communicate and has to be supervised around-the-clock because he has no concept of danger and often climbs things, risking injury.
He has a special diet free of gluten and dairy products and gives his parents regular early morning wake-up calls when he wants to play. His autism makes social interaction difficult and he often does not respond when people speak to him.
The youngster is also a creature of habit and can become upset if, for example, he is driven a different route home from school.
However, Mr Frisby said the condition often masked the underlying intelligence of autistic children and Sam was no exception.
He added: “Once people realise there is help out there they can seek it. Knowing that there is somebody at the end of the phone line who can help makes a big difference.”
Visit www.nas.org.uk for more information and to view the film.