1. ITV Report

Merthyr mum called 'paranoid' for years before daughter was diagnosed with autism

A mum-of-two from Merthyr said she was called "paranoid" for years before her seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism.

Natasha Evans said her daughter Miley was diagnosed with ADHD at four-years-old following disruptive behaviour at school. But Natasha said she disagreed with the diagnosis.

She wasn’t doing a lot of things. She didn’t play and she wasn’t interested in playing with children.

They put her on medication which I didn’t like. They made her really quiet and the school thought that was a good thing as it saw her behaviour improve but it was making her ill. She was having headaches and she was being sick.

– Natasha Evans

Natasha had to research Miley’s behaviour herself to try to understand it.

It took seven years for Miley to be diagnosed with autism.

As she didn’t have a diagnosis straight away and as she did so well in school, she went straight into a higher class. She went from being with 15 children with two teachers to 30 with one teacher.

Up until Christmas, she had said about three sentences.

Since being diagnosed she’s had one-to-one support and has been given her own desk.

It’s given her a sense of identity too as she knows what’s going on in herself. She will say ‘Hello, my name is Miley and I have autism’.

She’s a superstar. She wrote her own book two years ago. In 2016 she went from not being able to swim to swimming a mile.

– Natasha Evans

Natasha is now trying to raise more awareness of autism and the support available.

It can be lonely.

The amount of times people say ‘she’s only got it mild’ but she has to go through so much just to get to school.

She has to do the same routine every morning, there’s a set routine for dressing and with school uniform, and if there’s any difference, we will have a nightmare.

If there’s a film she likes, she’ll want to watch it over and over.

Her sense of smell is stronger, and she can hear things better than us, so as with other children with autism she can’t handle the outside world.

Even though she’s seven the attention you have to give her is like you’d give to a toddler. You have to know what she’s doing as she can put something in her mouth, wherever we go we have to risk assess.

– Natasha Evans

Natasha has now become the chair of the Merthyr branch of the National Autism Society.