A loving dad is on a crusade to raise awareness about adults living with autism after being diagnosed with the condition aged 42.
Ross Fraser from Stonehaven opened up about the challenges he’s faced to help others get the support and assessment they “rightfully need”.
Over the years, Mr Fraser’s spirit and resilience has been tested many times as he struggled with dyslexia as a child and sustained a severe spine injury 14 years ago, which has left him permanently housebound with limited mobility and in chronic pain.
But one of the most frustrating battles in his life has been with autism.
From an early age, Mr Fraser has always felt “out of place” and found it hard to connect with others.
He often struggled to focus and cope with any intensive loud noise –the reason for which remained unknown until his diagnosis last year.
Speaking to the P&J, he shared his experience with the condition.
Mr Fraser said: “At the age of 10, I was in a boarding school and I really didn’t fit in.
“I was trying to be more like other people to the point that not so many people got to see me, and there were very few I felt comfortable opening up to.
“You try and live your life as much as you can, but you always feel like there is something missing.
“And that was the thing with me last year, it got to the point where I needed an answer – I just needed to know one way or another.”
He added: “One of the problems when it comes to autism at the moment is the access to support.
“The support for autistic adults is quite lacking.
“The second part is the understanding. I think a lot of people take autism as a mental disability, but I don’t see it as a disability – I see it probably as a different ability.”
At the end of the day, I’m just like everybody else – just slightly different”
After being diagnosed with autism, Mr Fraser decided to try help other autistic adults get the support and understanding they need.
He has recently launched a GoFundMe page to try raise funds for the publishing of his first children’s book Kaleidoscope.
The print run is expected to be of 1,000 copies with £1 from every book’s going to an autism charity of his choice.
He is hoping this would also be the first step to becoming an established children’s author.
However, the force behind the project was not “fame and glory”.
Mr Fraser’s greatest inspirations to embark on this journey were his wife Jennifer and their nine-year-old daughter Megan, who have always stood by his side.
He said his drive and determination to keep going is to make his daughter proud.
“It’s an instinctual thing that whatever situation you put me in, I’ll find a way to keep fighting, especially for the people in my corner”, Mr Fraser added.
“You can’t change the past and the way it’s affecting your future, so you have to find another way to keep going.
“I felt like I’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching what’s been going on for too long now and I want to be back involved – doing something with my life and doing something for my daughter.
“I think that that’s probably the force behind it, because between the choices of her remembering me as someone who is stuck on the sofa most days trying to get his mind off things, and somebody who keeps fighting to give her something she can be really proud of, I’ll pick the latter.
“That’s how I’d want her to remember me and that’s what I’ll continue fighting for.”
People can donate on Mr Fraser’s GoFundMe page by looking for “Help a bear fly”.