Kathy Erangey’s interest in autism and Asperger syndrome began when her young son was diagnosed in 1994. The diagnosis came as a shock. Being told by the paediatrician who diagnosed her son that he did not feel qualified to advise her on how to help him was a further shock – she likened it to how she might have felt if she had been told she must perform heart surgery on her son – she felt completely inadequate to help him. After a period of mourning the loss of the son she thought she had had and coming to terms with who he really was, she gathered herself together and set out to find out what she needed to know. Quickly discovering that this is a condition very frequently misunderstood, she embarked on a quest to find out everything necessary to understand and support her son’s needs. Many articles, books, workshops and conferences later, and a subsequent degree in Autism from the University of Birmingham, also led her to roles in family support, advocacy and consultancy.
From her son’s early years, Kathy listened closely to adults on the autism spectrum who were able to share personal insights about their own lives which offered vital clues as they described how they felt and what motivated their behaviour in a way that her son, as yet, could not. Each time she heard them speak or read their books, another piece of the puzzle would fall into place. She also learned invaluable information from other parents and family members, and researched the work of professionals worldwide with a particular interest in Autism Spectrum Conditions and who offered a lifetime of specialist knowledge and practical experience.
Filtering all the information and identifying pertinent issues gave Kathy the crucial knowledge to help her son, and to share with others a fundamental understanding of how being on the autism spectrum affected him. This was essential, not only in supporting her son’s progress, but also in translating the social world to him and him to the social world.
Kathy is now dedicated to, through Autism Oxford, enabling others to learn, as she did, from listening to people on the autism spectrum, their family members, and qualified, experienced professionals in the field, and to using her expertise to help others, whilst encouraging and supporting the development of autism-specific services.