My son was late with all of his development milestones in comparison to my daughters, who reached hers early. It was evident that he was going to be more challenging, and being the youngest of three I tended to baby him more.

He continued to grow in his own way, with a very funny and demanding personality. Yet at nursery he kept himself to himself, not engaging in much social interaction. He coped well during his first year at school, but looking back, the foundation stage is about learning through play.

As a family we made the decision to move to beautiful Cornwall, a better lifestyle for us, and all three children benefitted hugely. The primary school they attended was nothing less than idyllic. The classroom was always taken outside, it was a forest school, very creative, less than 100 pupils and you could see the sea from the playground. If a child was going to create the perfect school, then this was it!

My son was extremely happy, the beach was on our doorstep, he had some wonderful friends, and while academically he was a little challenged he was in his element.

Fast forward a few years and things changed dramatically. My husband left us, and I began to struggle financially. So I decided to return to the Midlands with my children, a decision that I still find hard to accept on a daily basis. During the transition the plans we had put in place all fell apart, and we were left homeless and even worse off financially.

This is when my son's behaviour changed immensely.

He clearly couldn't cope with the drastic change, the insecurity and inconsistencies of our new life. The pollution, the noise, the crowds. The only thing that gave him a little grounding was that I'd managed to get him back into his original school, that he had attended before we moved to Cornwall, so there was some familiarity. But overall it was a living nightmare. He had no control over his emotions; he was aggressive, dangerous, unstable, destructive, not sleeping, not going to school, had daily sensory overload. I'd never been so sad, all three children had never been so sad. We were in a desperate situation.

His transition to secondary school was even worse, ending in him being removed from the school register, which led to no school for an entire year.

Thankfully a lot happened over the course of the next year. We found a house we were able to rent, as previously it had been very complicated because of my financial situation. My son was diagnosed autistic and eventually I managed to get him an EHCP, which got him into a great school. My gut instinct had been that he was autistic. I had experience as a teaching assistant, which helped me to recognise the traits. But knowing this in my heart, it was still devastating to see that diagnosis in black and white. However, it was crucial to 'put a name' to it, as I knew it would get him the support he needed. I will fight to ensure this support stays in place, and make sure that there is support as he grows into adulthood.

Things are still very difficult, money is tight, and support from family is practically none existent. He still has atrocious sleeping issues that can lead to weeks of school absences. I have little time for me, which I feel affects my parenting, as we all need self care to be the best we can for ourselves and for others. But despite the difficulties, despite the dream life being swiped from us, and the longing to return; at least we have a house, good support from school, and opportunities around us.

I have found that I learn best reading from about other people’s experiences. So, what could I, or somebody else, learn from all of this?

Find happiness and joy in the smallest things, it keeps you grateful for what you do have.

Keep the stability. I failed at this, so my advice would be to keep the steady flow, and try to make changes as gradual as possible.

Learn to love life, as it changes from one moment to the next.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. You are your child's voice, you want to help them achieve all they can in life, so grab that help for yourself too! It is not a sign of weakness.

Celebrate all the small victories. Autism unites children and adults by sharing certain traits whilst affecting them in different ways, so celebrate those moments where something was overcome, or they faced a fear or they slept through the night!

Fight through those rough times and never lose hope.

My children are growing up. They are18, 16, and 14, and all moving on to new adventures. I can't help but wonder what would've happened had we stayed in Cornwall. But there have been positives, and everything happens for a reason. Each day I am grateful that I have indeed been given this day.

I hope you have found some value in my story, and that yours can be less complicated.

Jane is a new Family Fund blogger, she has been a single parent for six years. She has three children, it was clear that her son was in need of great support & the long journey of numerous assessments began. He was diagnosed with Autism in April 2016. Read more of Jane's blogs at -