THE father of an autistic boy who can go for weeks without speaking is running the London Marathon to raise awareness of what he calls the 'silent' disorder.

Mark Lake, 31, from Bromborough, described the "champagne moments" when four-year-old Noah would finally speak a word after weeks of silence.

He wants to raise awareness about autism and is also fundraising for the National Autistic Society by running the London Marathon in April.

Mark, who works at Arrowe Park Hospital and helps track patients ready for discharge, said: "I noticed something wasn't right when Noah was about eighteen months.

"He used to walk on his tip toes and he would never respond to his name.

"It was apparent that he wasn't keeping up with his peers."

Noah was taken to St Catherine's Health Centre where a doctor quickly diagnosed that he had autism.

Mark said: "It rocked us to the core. It mainly affects his speech and it takes a few times to get his attention.

"He can become frustrated because he doesn't understand how to talk to tell us what he wants.

"Weeks will go by where he won’t talk. When he speaks I just want to crack open the champagne.

"It nearly puts you in tears and you just feel like celebrating.

"A few weeks ago he came out to play football with me.

"It was the first time he has ever done that and it was like he was speaking to me.

"That was another champagne moment.

"He goes to a speech therapist for an hour a week but as soon as he leaves he doesn't speak."

Around one in every 100 people in the UK have a form of autism, which is often referred to as a "silent" disorder and Mark is fundraising for the National Autistic Society which aims to raise awareness so everyone understands what it is.

He said: "I didn't know anything about autism before and nobody in the family has it.

"The general public might not know someone has autism.

"They might see someone acting strange or a bit eccentric but they wouldn’t know.

"When you say someone is disabled you automatically think of a physical disability but you can't always tell when someone might be autistic.

"To look at Noah he has no physical impairment and he's so mild mannered. He's very clever."

Mark has urged parents to have their children seen as early as possible if they suspect they may have autism.

He said: "There's a theory that the quicker you intervene the better the outcome will be.

"I would say to parents believe in your own instincts and get your child seen straight away if you think they may have autism.

"Some parents accept it and some people find it really hard.

"You never give up because they'll always make you smile and you just have to show them love."

Although he was a keen runner as a teenager Mark has never completed a marathon and hopes to raise £1,800, which his minimum sponsorship target.

Mark, who has worked for Wirral University Teaching Hospital for 14 years, said: "I wanted to raise money to help give something back and more importantly to raise awareness and educate people.

"While I want to make people aware I'm also keen not to label my son. No autistic person is ever the same.

"I just hope to get as much sponsorship as I can.

"Even if people could give 50p I will smash my target for a cause that many people are affected by."

To sponsor Mark visit his JustGiving page: