Jared's Journey: The 'friendless' autistic boy who became an inspiring maths master

  • Rob Setchell spoke to Jared Carpenter about his fight for an education and how he hopes to inspire other autistic students.

When Jared Carpenter was 12, he was written off as "naughty". He spent a year out of education. One school report said he might end up "friendless forever".

Now 30, he is a master of mathematics. His lecturers say he is the life of the party - "the first on the dancefloor". And he is quickly becoming a champion for other autistic students.

Jared, from West Runton in Norfolk, is studying for a PhD at the University of East Anglia.

He spends his days delving into advanced maths and science. His current reading covers the "evolution equations for the surface concentration of an insoluble surfactant" and includes a hefty text titled "Nannobubbles - a new paradigm for air-seeding in xylem."

But he takes as much pride in helping others. He is a member of the Norfolk Autism Partnership Board.

He is also working on a project to make maths and other higher education courses more accessible to neurodiverse students.

"I want them to feel that you can do it," he said.

"I can remember the feeling of coming here for the first time and it was very scary and intimidating.

"But you can make it. You can go through the system, get your degree and then the sky is the limit really."

Jared Carpenter at the University of East Anglia, where he is studying for his PhD.

Jared's journey "through the system" wasn't easy.

His autism and anxiety made mainstream school very difficult. The fight to get him into a specialist school took a year.

He said: "You can be seen as an outcast, or someone with just behavioural issues.

"I looked back at some of my old school reports and there was an interesting thing written in there about how I might end up friendless forever."

But when Jared did get the education he deserved, some serious talent was unlocked.

He developed a love of maths. He got GCSEs and A-levels and was named Norwich City College's Student of the Year.

When he picked up his degree from the University of East Anglia last year, he danced onto the stage. It was an outpouring of joy and satisfaction, he said, at all the obstacles he had overcome."I wouldn't change who I am for the world," he said.

"It has given me difficulties but it also makes me who I am. I like who I am and other people seem to like me for who I am too."

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