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Kathryn Griffith

London Marathon 2019

Challenge complete

Fundraising for this challenge has ended so we're no longer accepting donations. Thanks to everyone who supported this challenge.

Total raised so far £0.00

Target £0.00

Total plus Gift Aid: £0.00

Raised offline: £0.00

My story

[p]So here we go...I am running this year's London Marathon! It seemed like such a good idea when I was offered a place whilst sitting on a sunny beach drinking a glass of rose wine last July. And in fact, in the cold, hard light of January (I say light when I actually mean the pitch black of evening training runs), it remains a good idea for a number of reasons that I will share with you now.[/p][p]2019 marks my 40th year on this lovely earth and I feel that requires some significant effort on my part to mark the occasion (26.2 miles on the streets of London surely qualifies?). I'm just going to run up and over that hill, embracing the start of a fifth decade circling the sun. But it's about a bit more than this...[/p][p]My 40th year also marks the end of decade that has been particularly defined by one little word...Autism. I had just turned 30 when Felix arrived and, as I have doubtless told you all, (on more than one occasion - honestly what would I have ever talked about otherwise?!) Felix was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at age 2 when it became apparent that his struggles to develop language were about more than a simple speech delay. I think I had always been aware that there was something not quite right with the way he behaved and interacted, even as a tiny baby, but it's a challenge to get a response from over-stretched services and you of course continue to hope that it might just be a blip and normal service will soon be resumed.[/p][p]We were lucky to be able to push to an early diagnosis with Felix but then realised that this left us in something of a black hole as far as support and services were concerned. My response was to go home and go cry for 3 days while I wondered what on earth we could do to help our little boy who was struggling in silence, unable to communicate with us and the world around him effectively and happily. Julian, as ever, was far more practical and got busy researching to try and find a better, less emotional solution...and this is where the reasons for running this marathon get far more interesting![/p][p]At a time of real struggle and upset, we had the most immense stroke of good fortune - we met the wonderful Stanley family. At that time, Vicky and Giles Stanley were generously making themselves available to families to share their own experience of and response to autism. Their young son had been diagnosed with ASD at a similar age and they had acted quickly and positively to put in place an early intervention programme (Applied Behavioural Analysis programme - ABA) to support him and indeed the whole family. Their progress had been spectacular - at the point at which we met them, their son came to the door, said hello, introduced himself and asked us questions about Felix, all of the things we were so desperate to enable Felix to do. They shared their time, answered our questions, supported us in developing our own ABA programme for Felix by sharing their contacts and, indeed, directly supported Felix with Vicky acting as an ABA tutor for Felix at home and at his local pre-school. All of this was provided because they wanted to help and they believed in the transformational impact of early intervention for young children with autism. We will be forever grateful to Giles and Vicky for the difference they made to Felix and to us as a family.[/p][p]But Giles and Vicky weren't content to simply offer a bit of support on an ad hoc basis to whomever might pitch up on their doorstep. They wanted to create a bigger impact and to help as many families as possible. What I haven't mentioned so far is that ABA is a very intensive programme response to autism that requires not only commitment and dedication but it also requires significant financial input - it is an intensive way of working with young children with highly-trained psychologists and specialists. Just like the Stanleys, we struggled to fund the programme ourselves but absolutely acknowledge that we were fortunate enough to be able to do so. What is very evident though, is that there are so many desperate families out there who cannot and for whom there is no alternative - autism continues to fall through the statutory service response in so many ways (I'll save that for another day...this is about fundraising and not politics!).[/p][p]And so, in 2015, the Playhouse Foundation was established by Giles and Vicky. The Foundation enables young autistic children and their families to reach their full potential by funding and supporting them to access Applied Behavioural Analysis. It is making an incredible difference to families in Hampshire and I am proud to be a Trustee, supporting the development and progress of a charity to which I have the closest of personal, emotional connections.[/p][p]From a point of despair, when we wondered how on earth we could possibly help Felix, we now find ourselves with a confident, contented, entertaining, loving and engaging child (maybe a little biased, I know!) who is exceeding all expectations and finding a real place in the world. It is difficult to really describe and evaluate this journey fully in a few short paragraphs, but we began this process with various services telling us we should be prepared to accept Felix's "disabilities," accept that he would "never access the mainstream," acknowledge that his relationships would not be like those of typically-developing children and so on. That is not the Felix we see today - the Felix who goes to his local school, has best friends (and enemies!), talks non-stop about Minecraft (we could maybe have done without that on reflection...), who has taken up golf, can ride a bike, climb a tree, has an ambition to be a pig farmer (yes really) and flew through his SATs last year without a backward glance. He is a wonderful little boy and he makes us laugh every day. Of course I continue to wish I had never heard the "A" word but adding two more letters to it and embracing ABA has meant Felix has been able to make sense of and communicate with the world around him happily and effectively. [/p][p]So that's a very long-winded way of telling you that I'm running the London Marathon 2019 and I'm raising money for the Playhouse Foundation so that they can help more children like Felix, more families like our own. This marathon is my way of signing off on my thirties, on any autism-related upset and despair and likely also my knees...Any support you can offer to my endeavours would be so gratefully received and so carefully invested in the futures of children with autism. [/p][p]And one final comment - if nothing else, autism has really demonstrated to us the need for kindness, patience and understanding. Yes, it can be really annoying when you think someone isn't doing what you think they should, saying the wrong thing, holding you up or getting in the way but please try to remember that not everyone is wired in the same way. There can be so many reasons for a person's behaviour (think of that child and the harassed looking mother in the supermarket queue)...try not to judge or rush, be patient and understanding, give them time and space. It will definitely make a difference.[/p][p]Thank you![/p][p]XXX[/p]
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Supporters

Jun 3, 2019

Sara

Thanks for having fun with us in our Challenge Zone at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show

£5.00

Jun 2, 2019

Sara

Thanks for having fun with us in our Challenge Zone at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show

£5.00

Jun 2, 2019

Sara

Thanks for having fun with us in our Challenge Zone at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show

£5.00

May 21, 2019

andrea b

for Autism and your amazing feat to support it Well done !!!

£30.00 plus £7.50 Gift Aid

May 4, 2019

Anonymous

Huge well done Kathryn, what a massive achievement, we are so proud of you. J x

May 1, 2019

Diana Goodeve-Docker

Congratulations on your achievement! Hope you've recovered now! With much love Johnnie and Diana

£30.00 plus £7.50 Gift Aid

Apr 30, 2019

Nick Lara Ben and Amity

Well done! x

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Apr 30, 2019

Karen

Big congratulations Kathryn. Such an achievement xxx

£20.00 plus £5.00 Gift Aid

Apr 29, 2019

olwen matt hannah and naomi

great achievement well done Kathryn!

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Apr 28, 2019

Gemma

£30.00 plus £7.50 Gift Aid