WHEN Jane Atkinson’s son was a toddler and diagnosed with severe autism, a doctor told her to consider putting him into residential care.

The first time mum said she felt as if her world had ended when George stopped communicating and began to withdraw.

But today George is a confident 18-year-old, studying at Brockenhurst College as well as working a part-time job.

And Jane, 52, puts her son’s success down to a child-led play therapy programme she has created using both her theatrical background and autistic research.

Jane, from the New Forest, launched a company Positive Path play therapy nine years ago to help other children diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and autism - and now she has launched workshops in Dorset for the first time. 

She said: “I knew my experience could help other parents who were going through similar experiences of learning your child is autistic.

“At about 13 months George started to regress. He seemed trapped inside his own little world. I look back on those early days when everything was so bleak and seemed so hopeless and I am just glad that I persevered.

“The medical profession uses very negative language from the point of diagnosis.

“I wanted to be able to help children and give them a chance to flourish.

“I can help not only the child but the whole family.”

Before undergoing his mother’s play therapy programme George was unable to wear clothes with labels in, change to his routine gave him extreme levels of anxiety and loud sounds would send him into a panic.

However as an adult, he does not suffer from any of the issues he experienced as a child. He loves playing sport, listening to loud music at gigs and his only autistic traits such as overcomplicating sentence structuring.

In January, Jane and two professional musicians will host workshops involving play, drama, singing, percussion and guitar for children and young adults with autism as well as parent consultations.

The sessions will take place at Iford United Reformed Church, East Boscombe, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am until 4pm.

To book a place on a taster workshop on Saturday, December 17 contact Jane on 07979 691429.