Family life living with autism

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Lynn westerman Holt is a volunteer with Wetherby-based Autism Angels. Her eldest son Alexander Holt, nine, on the autisum spectrum. She is married to chartered accountant Jonathan Holt and the couple have two other children, Benjamin Holt, seven, and Natasha Holt, five.

Family tasks that takes the longest/top tips for getting them to do what they’re asked:

Getting everyone ready for all their individual commitments on a daily basis. Ideally I like to get up a couple of hours before everyone else to avoid the morning rush as otherwise stress levels are raised for everyone. I am also working towards the children increasing their responsibility with the use of blackboard lists and pictures (‘Communicate in Print’ is great for creating visual timetables to support those with autism).

Hobbies/pastimes enjoyed as a family and separately:

Autism Angels is an amazing charity based outside Wetherby which uses horses to help improve the communication and interaction skills of those on the autistic spectrum as well as developing their independence and self esteem. Alexander takes part in their mentoring scheme and the improvements in his abilities have been vast. The whole family benefits from their family fun days and summer camps and Ben has also started to volunteer for them to help raise funds and improve understanding of what autism is.

Favourite family day out:

Stockeld Park. Children with autism are prone to wandering or running off without warning. This can make days out very stressful, particularly in the early years when I was also negotiating prams and first steps of siblings. Stockeld was the first place I felt at ease, as the layout allows me to supervise from a distance, giving the children a vital sense of freedom and allow for their own risk taking. The staff have received autism training and even arrange ‘autism friendly’ Father Christmas grotto visits to assist any families who struggle with queueing and crowds due to physical or sensory issues.

One family member’s proudest achievement:

I am most proud of ALL of them, every single day: Alexander for his fearlessness and determination in making his own way in a world which challenges him. Ben and Natasha for their patience and understanding - they are growing into brilliant advocates for their brother.

Hardest thing about being a parent:

Stepping back - letting them make their own mistakes.

For more log on to

y his tantalising tales.

Funniest thing they say:

THEY find it funny when, unsolicited, they tell people how old I am. They also frequently ask if I was alive before electricity/during the war/when dinosaurs roamed the earth...

One item I could not live without:

A camera. I wish I could slow down the speed at which the children are growing up but at least I can capture the daily achievements of all of them.

One item my children could not live without:

I would like to think it is their parent’s love and attention. But I suspect their answer would be pizza.

Favourite books:

We have moved from The Gruffalo through to anything by Oliver Jeffers and onto the Harry Potter books.

* To find out more about the services and support Autism Angels offers, they may be contacted via email or visit