June Hepburn is a full-time civilian office manager working for Police Scotland. She was nominated as an Autism Champion by a former colleague in recognition of her efforts. We asked June to tell us more about herself and her family.
I have 2 sons, one who is neurotypical and one who has Asperger’s Syndrome.
I have raised both my children to have the same values, to be kind and considerate to others. This was obviously much more difficult with my younger son, R, who has had a very difficult time adjusting to the neurotypical world. In his early years he found it very difficult to mix with children of his own age; he couldn’t cope with noise, textures and the natural transitions throughout the school year, such as Christmas, Easter, and the changing of class years. He had difficulty in accepting authority from those he didn’t think were part of the hierarchical structure (i.e. teaching assistants). This showed in a change in his behaviour and how he approached his peers. He was never violent, however he did tend to be aggressive and when things got too much he would run to an area of safety.
The background to our difficulties was within the educational system, R didn’t mix well with his peers at nursery, but he did play and mix to a degree with his brothers friends, they always included him. When he started school he didn’t have any friends, he was very much alone and when he did try to mix his approach was all wrong. When he tried to play he showed aggressive tendencies in his approach and wasn’t welcomed into the fold. He wasn’t violent but could be quite distant and argumentative. He spoke to the teachers as if he was on the same level as they were.
I worked tirelessly with him, teaching him the correct way to socialise in a neurotypical world. We had clinical and educational psychologists involved where we had some positive and some negative outcomes. R found the boundaries of the education system debilitating, although we did meet some extraordinary people on our bumpy journey. He found a course at college that he thought would be interesting and coped incredibly well, he then applied to UWS for a BSc in Biomedical Science and was accepted.
To encourage socialising with his peers and to try to address his aggressive behaviour, R joined a Judo Club. He has been with this club since the age of 5 and is now a coach. He is a blackbelt and has won a few medals at competitions over the year.
The biggest transformation of all is that R hopes to go to work in Camp America this year; this will involve independent travel, and be challenging as he will be away from the family for approximately 3 months. We are not sure how many paths R will have to take until he reaches his goal, but I am very proud of his achievements so far.
My work/life balance was important to future of my sons. I worked part-time until R was settled in school and then increased my hours when asked by my manager. I have been very fortunate with support which has included my Managers in Police Scotland and also my family and friends.
In addition to this I also volunteer with the National Autistic Society on their Social Group Programme and also with their Socialeyes programme when work permits. I find this extremely rewarding, I have learned so much about the spectrum, it’s affect on all people who have a diagnosis on the spectrum, I have respect for the way in which our members have grown in confidence and how social groups has changed their outlook on life, their aspirations and hopes know no boundaries.