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Posted On: 18th Aug 2017

Autism And Mental Health

Sonny has created a website with the help of Fixers
Sonny wants to expand his website and turn it into a charity offering professional services
Visit www.amha.org.uk to view the website

A young man from Buckinghamshire wants to battle the stigmas attached to autism and mental health. 

 

As well as having Asperger's syndrome, Sonny Hawkins has various physical and mental health issues including depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. 

 

With the help of Fixers, the 25-year-old has created a website - www.amha.org.uk - which will serve as a platform for bloggers, artists and filmmakers with autism, mental health issues or a combination of both. 

 

He hopes it will show that people with autism can also have mental health conditions. 

 

'I want AMHA to be a safe place for people to have discussions and create a more accurate view of what life with autism or mental health conditions is like, in order to tackle stigma and misconceptions,' he says.

 

Sonny began experiencing mental health issues after his mother became seriously ill and he became a young carer. 

 

‘I made my way through home life and the school system under extreme stress and pressure,' he says.

 

'I struggled with various mental health conditions which were amplified by my Asperger's syndrome - although I didn't know I had it at the time.’

 

He adds: 'Although my family always knew there was something not quite right with my behaviour growing up, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was diagnosed by the charity Clearly Speaking with Asperger’s syndrome. 

 

‘Throughout my life, I’ve been on the receiving end of derogatory, belittling and stigmatising comments by professionals and the public alike.

 

'I have heard it all with a list longer than my arm, one health professional most recently stated ‘you only have mild autism, you’ll be fine.’

 

 

Sonny says it is important to show how autism and mental health interlink so people can receive appropriate help.

 

‘Obsessive behaviours, sensory overload, difficulty with being able to read people and communicate are just some of the many symptoms of Asperger's syndrome,' he says. 

 

'Many of these traits can interlink with your mental health, which can amplify your conditions. From experience, I have found if you treat one and not the other, it can prevent you from recovering through therapy and other interventions. 

 

‘Although from an early age I was given various therapies for my mental health, when I was finally diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome alongside it, there was no help and support as autism requires specialist treatment,’ he adds. 

 

‘By ignoring the autism, it was like having an entire section of my life closed off from the discussion.' 

 

Sonny hopes to expand his website, which has already made it onto the top 60 mental health blogs from content reader Feedspot. 

 

‘I hope AMHA will grow and eventually turn into a charity to offer professional services,' he says.

 

'I feel with the help of other sufferers we can support and begin to change people’s views and attitudes. 

 

‘I’ve received great support from Fixers – from the moment I met my Young Person’s Coordinator Wesley Erpen he’s stayed in contact and has been there helping me every step of the way, and a lot of the bloggers on my website are young people from Fixers.

 

‘It’s great that Fixers is out there helping people.’  

 

Sonny's project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.

 

To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.

 

Author: Molly Kersey

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