The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

“Walking with Love and Autism” is a book about the difficulties encountered by the mother of an autistic child, as she goes about the business of bringing up her family of three children, and how she learns to overcome these difficulties.

The author, Jo Austin, lives in Waterlooville with Robert, her autistic son, and her two daughters, Jennifer (20) and Catherine (15). She has lived locally for most of her life and was a student at both St. Peter’s RC primary school and Oaklands RC secondary school. (All three of Jo’s children have also been students in these two schools.) Jo’s problems were compounded by her own ill health. After the birth of her third child, Catherine, she suffered a severe bout of post-natal depression and developed OCD tendencies. This was followed by prolonged periods of hospitalisation for several other medical problems, which meant lengthy periods of separation from the children.  However, three months ago Jo finally received a diagnosis for her medical problems. She was told that she suffers from Sjorgrens Syndrome, in which the immune system turns upon itself. Now that she is receiving the correct treatment, she is making significant progress and the future is looking much more positive.

Throughout her illness, Jo continued to write her story in longhand. There were lengthy periods of time when she was too ill to write at all, but the book was finally finished last year and is now due to be published in both the UK and USA. It is the story of one family’s journey through good times and bad, but primarily it is a story of hope for all families who might be encountering difficulties, as they come up against the problems of bringing up children in the twenty first century. It is also a story deeply founded in Jo’s faith, as a Catholic. She never fails to convey the love experienced within family life and the great blessings which all children bring.

At the heart of the story is Robert, Jo’s 18 year old son, who suffers from autism. He has encountered many problems and set backs throughout his school life; first at Heathfield School in Fareham and after that at St Peter’s Catholic School and Oaklands RC School in Waterlooville, but he has now gone on to train as a chef at South Downs College and is proof that, with the right support and determination, the problems faced by such young people can be overcome.

“Walking with Love and Autism” can be purchased from Athena Press direct or from the Amazon website at 8.99.  Jo has pledged that 50% of the profits made will be donated to the building of the new Parish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Peter the Apostle in Waterlooville.

Summer Edition 2011

Walking with Love and Autism by Jo Austin - a review