Autism can be a very difficult thing to accept, understand or talk about for individuals and families who are affected and we as a family want to raise awareness, help research and offer support.

This summer Liam and his Grandad David have cycled Coast to Coast, setting off on Wednesday 27th June from Whitehaven, Cumbria they will cycle around 35 miles per day travelling through the Lake District, the Pennines & Durham Dales, finishing at Roker, Sunderland on Saturday 30th June. The route is 135 miles long with 10,500ft of climbing. This is their family's story, as seen by Liam's Mum. 

"Our chosen charity is the Autism Research Trust who raise funds to support research conducted at the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University."

Their story, in Liam's Mum's words

"We first started to notice things about Liam when he was very young, fear of certain noises (church bells, aeroplanes flying over), his speech development was late and when he started school anxiety and learning became major issues, it was truly heartbreaking to see Liam in such distress.

Naturally we were all very concerned and wanted to help Liam; but for Liam's Grandad (David) it had a much greater significance, he too had suffered very similar experiences when he was a child.

Grandad is a very determined character and problem solver, being retired with time on his hands it gave him the opportunity to do lots of research in our quest to help Liam. The research soon lead us to Autism as a possible cause for Liam's issues and after many months & many hurdles we finally got the diagnosis in 2017 which confirmed that Liam had Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It was during his research into Autism that Grandad began to notice more and more things that he could relate to and offered answers to the many problems he had faced throughout his life; every time he read something about Autism it was like reading his own personal profile.

It was soon very clear to Grandad that he too had an Autism Spectrum Disorder. 18 months later in March 2018 he got the official diagnosis."

A special relationship and a unique adventure

"Liam and his Grandad share a very special relationship. They are like best buddies, which we all thought was just shared interests, but now it's clear that the common thread is autism. Although they have differences in character they can relate to each other in so many ways and Grandad is able to offer guidance and support to both Liam and the family using his life experiences and knowledge of Autism.

Grandad, aged 61, has been a keen cyclist for many years and completed a solo cycle ride from Lands End to John O'Groats in 2016. So for him, the coast to coast is well within his capabilities. But for Liam, who is new to long distance cycling, the challenge was huge both physically and mentally!

Liam started training for the event in December, getting out on his road bike with Grandad whenever the weather allowed or doing weekly sessions on his spinning bike at home. Not only is the cycling getting him fit, it also helps him to cope with the daily challenges he faces. As Liam would say 'it helps me empty my brain'."

A one in a lifetime challenge

"Completing this challenge has meant so much to Liam and his Grandad, and it will be something Liam can look back on for the rest of his life for inspiration and courage.

Liam, Grandad and our whole family would be so grateful for any donations which will ultimately help other individuals and families affected by autism."