Schoolboy with autism pens heartfelt letter to Anne Hegerty

A schoolboy’s heartfelt letter to I’m A Celebrity contestant Anne Hegerty about their shared experience of autism has received thousands of shares online.

Joseph Hughes, 11, from Preston, was diagnosed with autism at the age of five and has been inspired by The Governess' appearance on the popular ITV show.

His mother, Kate Jarvis, 31, said: "He'll tell anyone who watches it, I watch Anne, she's got Autism like me so it definitely does make a difference to him."

"He sees his autism quite negatively sometimes, so was pleased to see someone with autism doing something like that for a job."

Joseph penned a letter for The Chase star Anne Hegerty, who has Asperger's syndrome. Credit: ITV News

In the letter to Hegerty, who has spoken of her difficulty coping with Asperger's since entering the jungle this weekend, Joseph wrote: "I think you are very brave for going in the jungle, I couldn’t go there because there are too many bugs.

The schoolboy added: "You are very clever", before saying: "Some people are mean to me because I am autistic but watching you makes me see that other people can have autism too and maybe I can have a cool job like you when I am older."

The condition can affect a person’s social interactions, communication, interests and behaviour, according to the NHS.

Joseph’s letter is one of many positive online responses after Hegerty discussed her autism on the programme.

Joseph said he could not go into the jungle because there are too many bugs. Credit: Kate Jarvis/PA

On the show’s first day on Sunday, a clearly upset Hegerty said she was "really, really close to saying I can’t do this".

Furthermore, on Monday night’s programme she talked in more detail about the condition with former EastEnders actress Rita Simons.

The National Autism Society website crashed on Monday evening as people tried to learn more about Asperger’s after she spoke openly about it in camp.

After her campmates offered her their support, the National Autistic society said on Twitter: "Lovely to see everyone supporting each other. We are backing Anne Hegerty all the way on her I'm a Celeb journey."

Twitter user Krystle F wrote: "Anne Hegerty think you are an amazing person for doing what you have and highlighting how people with autism have different needs and are the most unique people in their own ways!

"My daughter for 1 is unique and we hope to see you crowned queen of the jungle!"

And after Sunday night’s show, Karen Sweet tweeted: "As the mother of a son with Asperger’s Syndrome I am delighted to see Anne Hegarty (sic) in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Best of luck to her."