AFTER being bullied out of his job and suffering a nervous breakdown, Paul Isaacs’ undiagnosed autism had left him suicidal.
The 24-year-old from Shabbington had to unknowingly cope with the disorder throughout school and is now bravely working to help others going through the same ordeal.
He said: “When I was a child I was classically autistic. I had no functional speech and didn’t respond to social contact – my parents already knew there was something wrong.
“I went to pre-school but didn’t interact with the children, they where invisible to me,
“I was very comfortable in my own world and the teachers at my primary school didn’t know what to do with me.
“They would talk about my ‘strange’ way of walking and one teacher in Year 4 decided to stop the class and asked all the students to look at me walk in a line – she clapped afterwards.
“Towards the end of my primary school years I was bullied by a teacher and was then taken to a GP practice where I would go to this hut and they would teach me social skills but my parents had no feedback nor any diagnosis or the mention of the word autism was used.
“Secondary school didn’t start well and I was bullied in the first two weeks of being there.
“I suffered from crippling social anxiety and would always be in floods of tears.
“I would go to the reception saying I had a bad tummy or a headache but what I was really meaning to say was that I was unhappy but I didn’t process it straight away.
“It was at about 16 when I began to think I was different from others, I didn’t pick up the body language or facial expressions either – this still makes social interaction very hard for me.
“I went to work at a supermarket for over five years but the last year was very bad.
“I was gang bullied by various members of staff who wanted me out of the working establishment. I suffered a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide, I had to leave for the sake of my mental health and wellbeing.
“I decided to help others with the condition at an autism base in Chinnor, I have been helping them out for the past two years and they have supported me a lot.
“As of last year I got into public speaking and have found this has been a new found talent of mine which I never knew I had.
“I have had a wealth of experiences that I use to my advantage in my speeches.
“I have a lot of empathy and like to help others on the spectrum.
“My diagnosis finally came in November last year through Autism Oxford.
“The specialist gave me a formal diagnosis of highfunctioning autism and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
“This was a great relief to me and my family, including my mum and dad.
“They’re both proud of my recent achievements in the world of speaker events.
“I am still fascinated by bright colours and shiny metallic things and work out the world through my senses.
“That is my first language – the next is speech.”