A HOYLAKE mum with a desire to raise awareness of the condition that changed the lives of both her and her son has seen her online blog become a worldwide hit.
When Julie Ellsmoor sat down in front of her computer last January to write the first of a year’s supply of autism-related posts, she never imagined how quickly it would take off.
But now, 13 months later, the blog – Close Encounters of the Autistic Kind – has been read in more than 50 countries.
It tells the emotional and sometimes entertaining story of Julie’s life with her 26-year-old autistic son John, who moved into Wirral Autistic Society’s (WAS) residential care five years ago.
John was born with Cortical Dysplasia, which left him paralysed down his right-hand side and severely epileptic.
While a left frontal lobectomy cured his paralysis and epilepsy, it left him with severe autism, something that Julie and her family had to learn to live with as they went along, and something she decided to share with the world.
“I used to put short posts on Facebook about what John and I got up to on his weekends home,” explained Julie.
“People started leaving comments about how much they enjoyed reading them so I decided to write the blog as a light-hearted insight to life with an autistic young man and as a way to raise awareness of autism in general.
“We need to change people’s perception of what autism means and show how best to understand and support someone suffering from this extremely challenging and isolating condition.”
Julie Ellsmoor is delighted that her blog about life with 26-year-old autistic son John, pictured, is helping others.
As a self-confessed technophobe, Julie relied on the help of stepson Adam and his girlfriend Marie to set up the site.
Julie said: “I wanted the blog to be entertaining but not to take anything away from the challenges and difficulties that the condition presents to the person and their family.
“In view of the comments left on the blog I think I have managed to achieve that.”
As well as reaching people across the globe, Julie’s blog has also been picked up by BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Linda McDermott, who reads excerpts on her late night show.
“I’ve received many emails from people who are struggling with a family member suffering with autism, thanking me for sharing John’s story, saying that it gives them hope and they do not feel as alone,” said Julie.
“I am overwhelmed but delighted that in some small way John and I are making a difference.”
With the help of her stepsons James and Adam, Julie organises events and fundraises for WAS, something that was started by her late partner Peter - who died in 2011.
Julie said: “We have a dedicated group of family and friends who always step up to give us help at these events.
“I feel very blessed to be supported by such fantastic people who all want to help make a difference to not only John’s life, but the lives of all the clients at WAS.
“All of the WAS staff are incredible. Through their excellent programme of care and support John was able to overcome his challenges and is now a happy and content young man – I can never thank them enough.”
Although initially planned to last a year, Julie says she will continue writing her blog for as long as people want to read it.
She added: “I am going to put it all into a book, with a few new stories and hopefully get it published, with the proceeds going to WAS’s Life Time Appeal.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a literary agent or a publisher out there who may be interested.”
To read the blog, click here