While our campaign has been to get Matthew into an autism-specific in-patient unit, we have realized that a bigger issue is a total breakdown of the provision of appropriate care in the community for our most vulnerable young people. The solution is not in fact more units, but rather providing proper social care at a local level.
We simply don't know enough about the big questions in young people's mental health. Like, what can parent or schools do to help young people in crisis? What are the most effective ways to help? What are the factors causing mental health conditions in young people? And importantly, can we prevent these issues from happening?
I can't stamp out all the negative comments that people say on twitter or social media about disabilities, but maybe I can educate others on its dehumanising effect, and in doing so help parents understand that there is a world of support out there. Imagine Katie spending a day or a week with me, seeing what my world looks like. That would be a show on Autism worth watching.
How on earth can cow's milk be considered an essential part of our diet when its purpose is to feed calves until they are old enough to be weaned? How does it make any sense at all that people are supposed to have it? Just because we have been doing it for centuries does not mean it is rational or good for us; it just means it was an available food source at some point, and has since become an acceptable part of the human diet.
On Thursday 23 January, my team at the Babylab at Birkbeck, University of London, together with similar teams from across Europe, is launching a new study of infants with older siblings with autism or ADHD. For infants with an older sibling with autism or ADHD, the chances of also having one of the conditions may climb to 20%.
As the wealth gap grows, schools remain one of the few shared factors of the next generation. I think schools should be institutions of education but also a place of opportunity and equality. Governments should ensure time outside is incorporated into education to guarantee no child is denied the access to nature that is so essential for their development.
The reality is that most parents just want their children to fit in, to be socially acceptable, thrive at school and yes, be 'normal'. The idea that any difficulties might be due to a labelled syndrome, or 'special needs', is a frightening prospect for most. So, how can you tell if your child is 'normal'?