'My son keeps randomly collapsing and we still don't know why'

A mum was spurred on to make a change after her “world turned upside down”.

Paula Thompson, from Halewood, was “devastated” after her son, Drew, began “collapsing randomly”. The 52-year-old was worried about her only child as he is a person with autism and has mild learning disabilities including dyspraxia and dyslexia.

The mum-of-one told the ECHO: “Our world just turned upside down. He started collapsing randomly. When he was out with his personal assistant or when he was at the gym he would just faint.

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“It just came on randomly and we still don’t know why. He was under Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and had to have an implantable heart device put in.

“It was devastating for us. One minute we had this routine and everything was ok and the next, everything was just about him, all our priorities came about making sure he was fine. He was in a wheelchair for some time as well as he couldn’t walk.”

Drew, 32, is now on steroids to help with his unknown condition and after years of dealing with it, he can now feel when he is going to collapse and so the fainting is less random.

However his health issues, coupled with bullying at mainstream college meant he became “socially isolated” and wouldn’t “leave the house”.

Paula, a social work graduate from Liverpool John Moores University, said: “He was being called horrible names and he had no real friends other than the ones he would play with online on the computer. He was feeling really low and really needed support.

Paula Thompson founded Spectrum Connect CIC in light of her son's experience of living with autism
Paula Thompson founded Spectrum Connect CIC in light of her son's experience of living with autism -Credit:Paula Thompson

“There was support out there for him but it was people who were being paid to look after him, it wasn’t real friends. I didn’t want him to go to a day centre either as I wanted him to experience life.”

In “despair” at the state of services available for her son, Paula realised if she “wanted high-quality interaction for him, to give him the best possible quality of life”, she was going to have to create it herself - so Spectrum Connect CIC was born.

Paula prides the organisation as being one that "belongs to the people who are part of it and that is shaped to fit them, where previously they were expected to fit into an existing structure”.

And her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed as Paula is one of the finalists for this year’s Merseyside Women of the Year Awards.

The finalists, including Paula, have been recognised for their work supporting and improving the lives of people in Merseyside and beyond. Category winners will be revealed at a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Liverpool City Centre on Friday, June 28.

Founding Director, Ellie Kerr, said: “The MWOTY movement is committed to providing a platform for women to be seen, heard and found. Our finalists are business and community leaders, volunteers, campaigners and creatives who are using their time, skills and expertise to help others, change whole industries and make our region a better place.

“Many do this away from the spotlight and ask nothing for themselves. However, we believe their work should be visible and celebrated, and that by stepping onto the MWOTY platform and becoming part of our community, we can work together to help make even more difference.”

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