A BRIDGWATER mum is hoping to raise awareness and give insight to others on what it is like to raise a child who has severe autism.

Yasmin Luke's son Oliver is six years old. He was diagnosed with autism when he was two-and-a-half.

Yasmin has bravely spoken in depth about Oliver's journey in the hope that people will be more understanding of the challenges of autism.

"I remember feeling extremely lost and alone when Oliver was diagnosed," Miss Luke said.

"I was desperately searching for answers, I hoped to find insight into my son's mind through the internet.

"Oliver is our first child so I didn’t know there were specific behaviours he was displaying that would have made it more clear to me that he was on the spectrum.

"Our journey began into the confusing, daunting, isolated, frankly overwhelming world of autism."

Oliver has severe autism and a sensory processing disorder.

He is non-verbal, partially deaf and has no awareness of any type of danger.

He attends a specialist communication autism base in Bridgwater and has an education health and care plan (EHCP) and one-to-one support at all times.

Yasmin continued: "If the last few years has taught me anything, it is that knowledge is power.

"With information comes options, support, hope and change.

"I’ve gone on to do two qualifications in understanding autism and challenging behaviour and I currently work in a special needs school as a teaching assistant.

"I want to better my understanding of what it’s like being autistic and the challenges people with autism face daily.

"My advice to parents would be surround yourself with positive and supportive people, that’s why I’m hoping to create a safe place for us parents within my page facebook.com/understandingoliver."

Yasmin says Oliver's life can be full of fun and laughter, however his behaviour can change at the click of a finger.

She says she still has a lot of questions about his future, and whether he will ever be able to communicate verbally or live independently.

Yasmin added: "The constant worry if anything was to happen to us, the fear of the unknown has me and many other parents terrified because our children’s needs are so complex.

"No-one, not even professionals, will truly understand what life is like unless you have a child or adult with special needs and the mental and physical challenges you face as a parent coping day-to-day.

"The anxiety of the unknown, the heartache and jealousy I feel when I see other parents taking something I wish for everyday, for granted."

Yasmin explained that Oliver is strong for his age, and often hurts himself and others around him because he doesn't understand social expectations that other children do.

She says she shares her experiences good and bad so that people can ask questions and build a more accurate picture of day-to-day life with Oliver.

"There is a constant battle to get our child’s needs met, whether it is the fight for a diagnosis or finding the best way for your non-verbal child to communicate with you," Yasmin said.

"It can be a battle to get them into the right school or any other education setting, to acquire the specialist equipment you might need.

"There are battles you face to cut their hair, nails or to clean their teeth.

"There is the battle of others' ignorance, to show and educate everyone out there that all children and adults are so different and not any less than me or you."

To find out more about Yasmin, Oliver and the Luke family's journey, go to facebook.com/understandingoliver.

Yasmin concludes: "Oliver has taught me more about life than anyone else.

"I thought at his age I would be the one teaching him about the world, but as a matter of fact he’s taught me everything I know.

"My parenting, my empathy and my passion has all come from my beautiful darling boy."