What it’s really like to have autism – Tyler, ten, has written a book called Invisible Me
Bright Tyler Inman looks set to change the world.
Like many ten-year-olds, he dreams of space, time travel and being a scientist.
The difference is Tyler has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism which causes sensory processing difficulties, meaning he struggles with loud noises, bright colours, sarcasm and anything he can’t take literally.
He taught himself to read when he was two and began to have complex conversations as a toddler.
But life hasn’t been easy for Tyler.
Tyler Inman (Image: Birmingham Mail)
He spent most of Year Five working alone in a corridor rather than in a classroom with his peers.
This isolation led him to have a nervous breakdown.
He completely stopped communicating – only making noises and rocking on the floor – and this lasted for almost a year.
But the one thing he could still do was to write.
So, Tyler wrote how he felt about the world, what was going on for him, his night terrors and the isolation he found so all-encompassing it had caused him to ‘power down’ due to depression.
Invisible Me by Tyler Inman age 10 11/12 (Image: mPowr Publishing)
Tyler’s story has now been published in a book called Invisible Me by Tyler Inman, age 10 11/12.
It gives a rare insight into his remarkable mind and charts, with heartbreaking detail, what it feels like to be brilliant yet invisible at the same time.
Illustration of Tyler Inman in the book Invisible Me (Image: mPowr Publishing)
“I think differently to other children,” said Tyler, from Solihull.
“This should not mean I have to learn on my own in a corridor … how can you be punished for being you?
“I felt that I had failed, that there was no room for a child like me in this world.
“I stopped communicating and could only speak in a language I had invented myself, which was a series of unrecognisable syllables which was my way of letting my mum know I was powering-down.
“I was almost robot-like, as slowly, one by one, my abilities switched off and no longer worked.
“I felt like an odd key in a world where I would never be able to open any of the locks … where would there be a place for me? Where do children like me learn? Am I that different?
“I no longer desired a book the second I got out of bed, nor did I care about maths. The core of who I was and what drives me was gone, I didn’t function, simple tasks became arduous.
“I remember rocking on the floor, I remember shouting out sounds, I remember my mum sleeping on the floor next to me.”
Illustration from the book Invisible Me by Tyler Inman, aged 10 11/12
Tyler’s mum Tracy felt like she had lost her son because he became so difficult to reach.
“For Tyler, education and learning is the most important thing and to not be able to do that was like not being able to function,” said Tracy.
“He knew he saw the world differently to other people and so the more isolated he became.
“He went from being able to talk about string theory and gravitation to only making sounds and rocking.
“I can’t begin to say how difficult it was.
“For a while I thought I’d lost my son. I didn’t know how he would come back.
“He couldn’t read any more, and this was the boy who used to never put a book down. It was incredibly difficult to watch.”
Tyler Inman’s grandma Jennifer Tudge (Image: Birmingham Mail)
In the midst of his anguish, Tyler lost his beloved grandma, who lived with him and his mum and brother Haydn, who is also autistic.
The family went for bereavement counselling with Marie Curie, and the counsellor began working with Tyler.
Additional support was put in place and, through writing down his feelings, Tyler began to return to his old self.
Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull where Tyler went for counselling (Image: Birmingham Mail)
“Losing his grandma was his first real loss and this was a massive challenge for him,” said Tracy.
“The support we have received from Marie Curie has been amazing. Every penny raised goes to helping not only the person but they whole family that comes in with them.
“They have worked as a team to restore Tyler’s self esteem and help him see there’s a place for him in the world again.
“There didn’t seem to be any help like that available for Tyler on the NHS, or we would have been on a waiting list for ages to get it.
“That thought is terrifying.”
Tyler Inman at the Marie Curie Hospice where he used to visit his grandma (Image: Birmingham Mail)
Tracy can remember clearly the moment she realised her son was coming back to his old self again.
It was when mPowr Publishing told him they wanted to publish his story, the words he’d written as a result of working with Marie Curie’s children and young people’s counsellor Ann Scanlon.
Tracy said: “Tyler spoke to me and said mum I’m actually really proud of this and I could see the expression on his face again.
“He’d been blank for so long and I thought yes you can do this, he’s coming back!
“And the more he wrote, the more he came back. It was very cathartic for him.
“As a mum you always believe in your child, you know they have a gift to give.
“Now I feel Tyler will reach his full potential.”
Tyler and his brother Haydn (Image: Handout)
And it will be very exciting to see just what that potential is.
Tyler’s friends describe him as being quirky professor type, a bit like Young Sheldon from the spin-off series of The Big Bang Theory.
It’s an analogy Tyler, who likes to wear a bow tie, says he finds very satisfying!
“Young Sheldon is one of his heroes, he was one of the first people he identified with on TV, especially in a show where they said it was OK to like science,” smiled Tracy.
“I’ll let him watch Big Bang Theory when he’s a bit older. Right now, he’s like an 11 year-old 45-year-old!
“In the TV series, Sheldon has his own place on the sofa and Tyler’s the same. We have a little chuckle when we see that. There are quite a lot of similarities.
“I never taught Tyler to read, he just read. That was the first indication that he was different to his peers.
“His classmates have been fantastic. Having been with him since nursery, they never bullied him, they just accepted him as being a bit of a quirky mini professor.”
Tyler Inman (Image: Birmingham Mail)
Tyler says that writing down his feelings has helped him to make sense of what has happened to him.
“I’m very proud of the book,” he said.
“I wrote a book because I wanted to get my message out there to people like me who feel invisible that it can get better.
“People should do what they enjoy doing and not feel like they have to fit in with everyone else.
“I love reading and I really enjoy learning about space and science.
“Other children might recognise what I’m talking about, I really hope they do so they don’t feel like they’re on their own.”
Tyler Inman at the Solihull Marie Curie Hospice (Image: Handout)
Today, Tyler is getting ready to start Exhall Grange, a specialist school in Coventry, having been signed off school for a year – and he can’t wait.
“He went on his transitional day in his new uniform and we felt like we had won the trophy!” said Tracy.
“He was smiling and happy because he was back in education again.
“He feels passionately that no child should be ‘invisible’ in the classroom.
“I have no worries about his educational future, I know everything will be fine now.”
Inspiring families 2018
Tyler added: “If I can reach even just one parent or child to help them see life can, and will, improve, I will be happy.
“I want people living with Asperger’s to never give up.
“It can get better and things can change, don’t give up, believe in yourself and embrace the differences.”
• Invisible Me by Tyler Inman age 10 11/12 (mPowr Publishing, £9.99) is available to purchase here
A donation to Marie Curie is made for every copy of Invisible Me sold.
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