‘The Queen helped my royal obsessed 7 year old with autism to talk’

While the rest of the nation continues mourning for Her Majesty, one little boy from Worcester has been left especially devastated by her passing. Jack, 7, has autism, and it was his adoration for The Queen that saw his development and behaviour come on in leaps and bounds. He lives with his older sister Charlotte, 11, welder dad Steven, 38, and care assistant mum Melanie, 37. Here, his mum Melanie shares their story…

“Watching in disbelief as Huw Edwards announced the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II live on the BBC, I squeezed the hand of my seven-year-old son, Jack.

Jack has autism, and for years he struggled with his speech, behaviour and development. That was until he started to learn about the royal family at school.

Jack became fascinated by the monarchy and fell in love with the Queen. I knew this news would hit him hard.

I crouched down next to him and saw that his eyes were full of tears as he stared at the TV.

‘Oh Jack! It’s okay!’ I soothed, as I gave him a hug. But I knew there was nothing that I could say that would make him feel better. The Queen had played such a huge part in his life.

The early years of Jack’s life had been extremely difficult for both of us.

I have an older daughter, Charlotte, 11 and was working as a care assistant..

Juggling work and looking after two young children was extremely difficult, particularly as Jack displayed challenging behaviours from a young age.

I worked nights, which didn't allow much time for sleep! Jack was a very unsettled baby – always crying but would never let me pick him up and comfort him.

It was difficult to spend quality time with my husband, Steven, 38, a Welder Fabricator.

I knew that something wasn’t right, but my concerns were always dismissed by health workers who assumed I had post-natal depression.

His challenging behaviour and the lack of support available really took it’s toll on my mental health.

He struggled to cope with loud noises or if his routine was disrupted – often resulting in huge meltdowns that were draining for us both.

It was a huge relief when he was finally diagnosed last year, when he was seven.

It gave me the reassurance I needed, as I had started to blame myself and thought that perhaps I was somehow to blame.

I worried that people would assume his behaviour was a result of my parenting, and so to have a diagnosis gave me validation and finally some support.

I was really worried about how he’d cope when he started school, as his speech and language development was very delayed.

As predicted, it was a struggle at first.

He couldn’t cope with a lot of the work and while other kids were busy learning their phonics he would scream and cry whenever we would try to read a book together.

It was a daily battle to get him to engage with his work.

Until one day, when Jack was in year one, he came home with a book about Kings and Queens.

I’d never seen him so captivated. For the first time ever, he actually wanted to sit down and read.

Every day he would come home with a new book about the royal family and the monarchy.

He was fascinated by Kings and Queens of the past but had a particular soft spot for Queen Elizabeth II.

He couldn’t believe that she had been on the throne for so long and had seen our country go through so much. His admiration and fascination for the Royal family and the Queen played a huge part in his speech development.

He struggled to have a conversation with people he didn't know, but if you ask him a question about the royal family, he could talk for hours!

His confidence and development have come on leaps and bounds, and unsurprisingly the news of Her Majesty’s death was devastating to him. He sobbed his little heart out.

‘I can’t believe she’s not here anymore’ he cried. But the Queen’s legacy continued to inspire him.

Every day, he would ask me to buy a newspaper, and we now have a shoe box that is overflowing with cut out articles about the Queen and royal family.

His speech is improving with every article that we read together. Despite his sadness, he is excited to have a new King and his fascination with the royals has only grown stronger.

We've been absolutely blown away by how our community came together to try and make Jack's wish of getting to London to pay his respects to the Queen come true.

Kind strangers have been donating and sharing the gofundme on Facebook, and we are amazed to have reached £70. But if we can't raise enough money before the funeral for the train and tube fares, then the money will be donated to The Autistic Society.

The funeral will be a sad day, but we have told Jack it will be a celebration of Her Majesty's life. We will bring out the bunting and make red, white and blue cakes and make it an occasion to remember. The Queen did so much for Jack, it's only fitting we thank her in style.

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