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April 2011



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Apr 11 2011 By Samantha Booth

HEARING that your child has Asperger Syndrome can be devastating but mum Clare Johnson says discovering her son and daughter both had the condition was “like the sun coming out”.

The diagnosis of her two youngest children led Clare and her former soldier husband Malcolm to discover that they too have struggled with the condition all their lives.

She said: “We had always thought it was everyone else that was weird.”

And Clare’s eldest daughter, Ruth – the only member of the family NOT to have the condition – says that discovering the rest of the family have Asperger’s is the best thing that has happened to them.

She said: “It’s helped me understand why I’ve always felt so different. When I was a teenager, it used to make me so frustrated that they were so anti-social when all I wanted to do was be with my friends and do normal teenage things.

“They’ve always been so independent and happy with their own company. It was quite hard for me to understand.”

Clare, 55, and Malcolm, 57, who live in Brightons, near Falkirk, celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in May.

Malcolm has served in Germany, Ireland and Kuwait during the first Gulf War as a soldier with the Royal Artillery, while Clare stayed at home with the children.

It wasn’t until seven years ago that their son Stephen’s teacher, Janice Lewis – whom the family nominated for a National Autistic Society Award – suggested there might be something wrong.

Clare said: “He was always clumsy but he was a big child who took after his dad in size. We just thought it was normal, as was the way he took things so literally.”

Stephen, who was initially diagnosed with dyspraxia, is now 21 and works as a home carer.

Ruth said: “When Stephen was diagnosed, it began to explain a lot but really it was just the tip of the iceberg.”

Many people with the syndrome have trouble socialising and, while recognising these traits in Stephen and Malcolm, Clare could also clearly see how social awkwardness had always impacted on her own life.

She said: “We used to have lovely neighbours who would just pop in to say, ‘Hello’. I just couldn’t deal with it and would hide from them.

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