Inspiring teen raises autism awareness
RAISING AWARENESS: Jonathan and mum Christine
A DUMBARTON teen is raising awareness of the unbearable pain experienced by autism sufferers as a result of extreme noise sensitivity.
Jonathan Rainey, 18, has auditory sensitivity and high functioning autism so common noises, such as a dog barking, would feel like "torture" to him.
More than 200 people with autism are thought to live in Dumbarton and the Vale.
Jonathan is raising awareness as park of Noise Action Week (May 21-15)
He said: "Certain noises that many people automatically screen out, such as barking dogs, children playing, and crying babies have felt like torture.
"I would be desperate for the noise to stop and for the pain to stop. While the noise is happening it's impossible to focus on anything else and it's frightening."
Autism is a developmental disability that affects an estimated 1 in 100 Scots. It is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people.
It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. One of the most commonly reported challenges for people with autism is hypersensitivity to sounds.
With the support of his family and teachers, Jonathan has transformed from a child who could not leave the house if a dog was barking outside, to a confident young man.
Now Jonathan and his mum Christine want people affected by autism and their families to know that help and support is available.
Christine said: "Many people affected by autism struggle to access the right support at the right time.
We were very lucky. Jonathan has been brilliantly supported by teachers at Renton Primary Language Unit and Vale of Leven Academy, and the West Dunbartonshire branch of the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland.
"Thunder and lightning used to terrify Jonathan. Fireworks Night was like living in a warzone. I used to love fireworks, but because of his noise issues, I started to dread November 5th.
"Jonathan would be in a terrible state of heightened fear and pain. He would beg me to make the noise stop and I felt so helpless. Jonathan has worked unbelievably hard for many years to cope with his noise sensitivity, and the transformation has been absolutely amazing.
"With his family and teachers to support him, he has shown amazing determination in facing up to his fears and managing the pain. We are so proud of him and all that he's achieved."
Jonathan, who is currently preparing for exams in English and Physics and will soon commence a course in Media Studies at Clydebank College, added: "Although my teachers and my family were trying to help me by gradually introducing me to challenging noises for short periods of time, it was hard to try to force myself to listen to noise that was unbearably painful.
"These days it's not always easy, but I'm so much better at handling it. I even practice at home, by putting loud music on my headphones and visiting places where I know there will be some loud noise, so I can work on coping strategies."
This article appeared in Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter 23 May 12
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