I’m Nuala Gardner the mother of Dale and Amy, who both have a diagnosis of autism, at opposite ends of the Autistic Spectrum. For 25 years, I worked as a Registered Nurse where my medical knowledge helped me educate my children and fight the system, to ensure both received condition specific intervention. On Christmas Eve 2006, the drama “After Thomas,” was shown on ITV and welcomed by parents and professionals as a gritty and accurate portrayal of parenting a child with autism. In July 2007,” my book, A. Friend Like Henry” was published, which explains how our Golden Retriever was the breakthrough to assist Dale to progress to the independent professional young man he is today; and how Horses was the key to help Amy towards a similar life as her brother.
I have researched and developed an Autism Facilitator Dog Program, that is conducive to the child or adult’s autism or disability and ensures the welfare of the dog. In 2009 I combined my work with an eminent dog trainer in Zamora Spain called Alberto Alverez Campos. In October 2013, our work brought us together at Guide Dogs Queensland Australia, to support a successful pilot scheme the organisation was running.
It involved 2 families who each have 2 children with severe autism, both shared the dog, which is groundbreaking work. Two other families with one child affected were also on the pilot. One adult client suffered from severe and debilitating PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) the dog, has had a profound life changing effect for the client.
The emergence of this work, together with Dale’s plight as an adult with autism in today’s society, has been told in the sequel, “All Because of Henry,” published in October 2013, with sixteen 5 star reviews on Amazon!
On the 30th September 2011, I ended my career as a nurse, because I was burnt out juggling a nursing job, developing my work in autism, supporting two children on the spectrum, running a home, not forgetting two Golden Retrievers “needs” as well. It was a huge risk…
I am now a single parent trying to earn a new living, but I had to continue my work in autism. It’s been scary starting again from scratch, as I lost everything when my marriage broke up. Being on my own with my daughter to support, having to depend on the welfare state has been the hardest of all to cope with. My goal is to have a career doing autism consultancy work, and provide a secure future for me and my daughter. For those who seek my services or want to explore “canine” intervention, I will give my all, to give them… the best chance of success!
Material things will never be that important to me, quality of life for my family and others alike… is paramount… and why I have to try this venture! Nuala Gardner 27th May 2014.