People get involved in our fundraising challenges for all kinds of reasons. But they all have one thing in common – they want to support autistic people and their families. A few of our wonderful fundraisers share their stories below about why they decided to take on our abseil day this weekend.

We already have a team of over 50 super brave supporters taking part Saturday and they have so far raised an amazing £13,000.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

"I am 15 years old. I love all things to do with Harry Potter - I am in Ravenclaw. I like video editing, role playing and writing my Harry Potter fanfic, (Fear of a name, by WiseLikeARavenclaw). I have a black cockapoo called Jet. I live with my mum, dad, and younger brother. My dad had a brain haemorrhage when I was four and is in a wheelchair.

I like rollercoasters, tree climbing and “thrill seeking” activities. I was diagnosed with ASD nearly two years ago and thought this would be a good way to raise awareness and money for the National Autistic Society.

I am very excited for the big day. So far I have raised £155 of my £200 target.

It is great to know there is someone there to answer my questions. I feel like part of a team."

 

 

Charlotte Copley

Charlotte Copeley "This is a cause very close to my heart. My boy has been diagnosed with ASD I feel a very lucky and privileged mum to see the world from his unique perspective... he's amazing and makes every day special for me! However, I know that my boy, walking through the classroom door everyday, experiences similar feelings that I will when I stand on the edge of that 114.5 metre sculpture (did I mention its 22 metres higher than the Statue of Liberty?). So, if I can't conquer my fears for a one-off occasion, how can I help and support him to do the same every day?''

''I'm not raising funds trying to research a 'cure.' Who would even want that? Our children / family members aren't broken! They're amazing and unique and I, for one, know that if my boy was any different, my life would be dull! I'm raising funds so that we can educate those who haven't had any experience, support those who need it and open up the gates of opportunity to our Awesome ASD family!''

''I'm extremely nervous - but not really about the abseil (not sure I've thought the height thing through just yet) - but because I’ll be visiting London! Last year, I was in the middle of the Borough Market terror attack and vowed I'd never go back. However, I've decided to overcome my fear and have made the reason I visit something spectacular that I can't back down from. All my family will be going with me for support, including my little boy. Even though it is 'daddy day' (the day he goes to stay at his dad's), he's made an exception to cheer mummy on! Everyone is super supportive and willing to get behind me, including work colleagues and my netball family!''

Julie Travess

Julie Traves 
''I’m blessed with 3 lovely boys. Jake, my oldest (15) has autism. I knew from a early age that he seemed different to the other kids at toddler groups - I felt I was being a neurotic mum and could tell people thought I was too. I just wanted someone to say why Jake seemed different and that it was not all in my mind. Jake did not speak clearly until age six, struggled with friends, and was actually happy to be alone - something I struggled to accept. I now understand why he likes to be alone and it’s ok - he is happy by himself. He has struggled with anger and emotions, as he has a strong sense of what he believes is right. With age, he is controlling these emotions much better. He has just started his GCSE’s - he is a bright boy, but like a lot of our children, he doesn’t achieve his full potential. He has a huge struggle getting the information and his knowledge down. However his main passion is computers and we are excited that he got work experience this summer at a computer company, which has a great understanding of autism.''

''I think because my life has been touched by the struggles of autism, I wanted to give something back and help others. I started to work at Lakeside School in Welwyn Garden City. It’s an SLD school, and a high percentage of the children there have autism. They are amazing kids and the staff there are incredible too; the passion they have is fabulous. I often go on the NAS website when I’m stuck with what to do and where to go. It’s great to feel you’re not alone.''

''Abseiling is a huge thing for me to do, as one of my fears in life is heights. However, people with autism have huge fears in their daily surroundings everyday, so I’m sure I can cope for 30 minutes while I jump. People have been so generous! Once I hit £200, I raised my target to £500 - I’m nearly there and am hoping to go above that. It's an amazing thing to give something back to people in need. These children, adults and their families need our support and to be included in the world.''

''I want to educate people to have a better understanding and that it’s ok to be different, but not less. The amount of people who say, 'Oh [Jake's] just naughty,' or 'You need to stop him doing that,' or 'Why is he like that?' Well, he has autism - that’s why! You find out who your true friends and family are, as they are the ones that have just listened to me and not judged.''

''Thanks for reading and wish me luck, as I will need it! Still don’t think it’s hit me how high I have to abseil from - I’m just focused on the great charity I’m helping. I have to thank my dear friend Suzanne Greenwood for convincing me to do this - so, if I die it’s her fault (only joking, Suzanne!). She will be there with me holding my hand as we jump together!''

Leigh Parker

Leigh Parker ''I am a civil servant and mummy to our beautiful Albie, who is three years old. Our autism journey started in March 2017. Our son developed up to the age of two, and then lost his speech and became really shy of everyone. The whole autism journey has been an emotional rollercoaster, as during that initial period we were set on the fact that our son would never speak or be able to cope with everyday situations. Our son has proved us wrong! Our son is now speaking, using Makaton as a form of communication and he copes so well with everyday tasks. He makes me incredibly proud every day from being such a quiet and shy little boy to a little boy who has grown in confidence and who will say hello to everyone.''

''I spent eight months grieving as Albie's development was typical and what you would expect for a child of his age, but when he reached two and we were then faced with an autism diagnosis, I felt like I had to get to know the new Albie. At times, I felt like a terrible person or like I had failed as a parent, but during those eight months I fought to get Albie support and I fought long and hard for his diagnosis. I have never given myself or my husband that pat on the back that we deserved. Albie is our strength and our little superhero who is always willing - he will do great things and he will encourage others to accept and gain knowledge about autism.''

''Here are two reasons I am doing the abseil - firstly, my son is my biggest inspiration, he has taught me so much. He has the kindest and gentlest soul and has shown me that autism won’t hold him back. Secondly, I want to raise awareness on autism, as having a child on the spectrum can be a lonely place as people don't always understand or accept this. I have currently been in touch with our local MP and have expressed concerns around autism diagnosis waiting times. Also, families are supportive and this has had a good effect as the borough I currently live in is now looking closer at the way they deliver services. The National Autistic Society aided this and has sent me policies relating to the autism diagnosis process - this allowed me to put a case forward to the MP and to the health minister.''

''I am really nervous and feeling a little bit emotional [about the abseil] as since we started our autism journey, my emotions have been up and down. I am kind of looking at it as if, when I reach the bottom, I will be 'closing the book' on all the worries and fears I had when we were first told that my son was autistic. Also, I can't wait to see my little boy's face at the bottom because this is for him - and I want him to know that I would cross oceans and climb mountains if it means I can make the world accept and understand his condition.''

''So far, I have raised £175.18 and my target is to raise £250.00. The National Autistic Society has been really supportive by sending emails every few weeks giving out tips and advice on fundraising and also showing support for the big day. The Facebook page has been fantastic as you get to meet everyone who will be doing the abseil. Great work guys!''

Justine Thorpe


"I am passionate about raising awareness of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) both personally and professionally, which is why I am abseiling 262 feet down the helter skelter building in the Olympic Park in east London on 5 May.

It is thought that 1 in 100 people have Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which means that there are some 700,000 people in the UK with ASD. ASD is one of a number neuro-diverse conditions (other ones being dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and ADHD) whereby clever and talented people experience both the positive side and the challenges (on varying levels) that being neuro-diverse brings. No one person with ASD is the same. Although ASD is described as a spectrum, it is more three dimensional like a ball.

I have completed an online test and have been identified as being potentially neuro-diverse (ND), as opposed to being neuro-typical (NT). Some of my family, friends and colleagues also exhibit ASD traits and have benefited enormously from the help and support offered by the National Autistic Society (the NAS).  

As well as understanding ASD on a personal level, I am also working to "build a better working world" for my colleagues and their diagnosed children who are impacted by ASD. We are also actively recruiting people with ASD as they may exhibit higher performances in some areas. 

Our employee reach is global, with ASD contacts in America, Australia and Europe.  We recently held an ASD awareness raising session across skype for World Autism Awareness Week in early April and next steps include cross-working on a neuro-diversity strategy for our colleagues and peers.   

I am therefore extremely grateful for you reading my story about how I support those with ASD.  

Thank you so much for your support. Think of me on 5 May!!"

Jade Francis


"Raising money for the National Autistic Society is something that is very close to my heart as both my children benefit hugely from the services they provide. Our son Harley was diagnosed with Autism 2 years ago and our son Finley was diagnosed with Aspergers this year, so the support from the National Autistic Society is a great help to us as a whole family. 2 Years ago I had never even heard of Autism and of course I struggled with understanding it. Over this time and after a lot of research I now know that Autism is not something to be afraid of at all, and that Harley and Finley are absolute superstars who amaze me every single day. From once being told that our son may never speak, to him now defying all odds and being a total chatter box just fills me with pride. Since diagnosis our boys have thrived and developed hugely, although they do both face daily challenges which they overcome so well, so if they can do that every single day and still be as amazing as they are, I can definitely do this once for them and for all of the other people who will benefit from this fundraising. I have never done a charity event before so I am feeling both excited and nervous, but I am ready to do this for our boys! They will be cheering me on along with my husband and my parents, and I cant wait to see their faces when I get to the bottom."