‘Be yourself’ is a motto many children and teenagers are told to live by as they grow up.
But for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) doing just that can often be a scary prospect - when being themselves may have led to unwanted attention, bullying or being seen as a ‘naughty’ child.
It did for Doncaster teenager Sheridan ‘Shez’ Bull, who says he now wants to put a stop to children like him with ADHD and ASD from feeling like they need to hide who they are and is attempting to share what it is like to live with the conditions through his video blog, or ‘vlog’ on YouTube.
The YouTube page, which currently has dozens of followers, is something that Shez hopes he will be able to turn into a way of making a living one day. This comes after Shez, who does not have any GCSEs, spent 18 months sending in job applications without receiving a single invitation for a job interview.
On the 17-year-old’s YouTube page the motto ‘be yourself’ is proudly displayed in a bid to help give others a greater understanding of life with ASD and ADHD.
He said: “I want people to know that they are not that different, there are other people like them out there.”
While Shez, who is currently enrolled on a life skills course at Doncaster College three days a week, is now in a position to try and help others, his journey has not been an easy one.
At the age of four Shez was diagnosed as having ADHD, for which he was prescribed the drug ritalin. Mum Claire Bull says that while the ritalin helped to control Shez’s ADHD - it ‘wasn’t enough’.
“By the time Shez was seven I was getting daily phone calls to work to come and get him from school and I was having to pay extra at the nursery so they could have one member of staff with him all the time,” said Claire, of Madingley Close, Balby.
The 43-year-old added: “At the age of seven I received a final phone call from the school saying that they were going to expel him and send him to the naughty boys school in Bentley. When I heard that I was devastated. When I got to the headteacher’s office he was swinging from the curtains. But I knew it wasn’t because he was naughty - he was just different.
“Luckily the headteacher at this school was amazing and immediately said that Shez wasn’t naughty and that she believed he was also autistic.
“Several months of tests later and Shez had a diagnosis of Severe High Functioning Autism and started schooling with what was Rossington Hall and is now Stone Hill School. It has been a rough ride to now to say the very least.”
Claire says she is very proud of Shez and his ambition to become an internet star as she believes his videos may help to bring some comfort to families in Doncaster and across the country whose loved ones live with ASD and ADHD.
She said: “If I’d had something like this when Shez was younger I think it would have helped because it makes you realise you’re not alone, that there are other kids like him out there.”
Commenting on his job search she added: “I know he is my son but I really do believe passionately that with the right support he would be an asset to any employer.”
Visit Shez’s page at: www.youtube.com/channel/UCijbCocFPtNF-6D_tqb0Vqg
• Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. People with ASD tend to have problems with social interaction and communication.
• It’s estimated that about one in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.
• In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.
• Some people with ASD had features of the condition as a child, but enter adulthood without ever being diagnosed.
• Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
• Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school.
• The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems.