Autism champion who went undiagnosed for 32 years shares 'heartbreaking' story in new book to help raise awareness
An autism champion is sharing his inspirational story to help others with a ‘heartbreaking’ memoir released this month.
Richie Smith, who was born in South Shields, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of 32, after years of unknowingly battling the condition.
Now 35, the dad-of-two went on to set up community interest company Awesometistic and has visited hundreds of schools in his yellow Ford Mustang, helping thousands of children and families across the North East.
In his first book, The Art of Weeing in the Sink, Richie has shared his personal account of growing up undiagnosed and his troubled childhood.
Named after one of his unusual childhood habits, it is aimed at anyone caring for autistic children in a bid to raise awareness and prevent others having the same experience he did.
“The book is about my life growing up, struggling with adoption and at times not understanding why I was behaving a certain way,” said Richie.
“It talks about my battles with mental health and how I eventually got diagnosed and went on to adopt my own children.”
The Art of Weeing in the Sink, comes out on Monday, February 17, has already had more than 500 pre-orders, and described on the sleeve as a heartbreaking, comical and inspirational story.
“People have said they laughed, cried and couldn't put it down,” he said.
“I’m really pleased because it’s a very open and honest book. Two of my life’s ambitions were to own my own business and have a book out, I never thought I would achieve them.”
All of the profits from the book will go back into Awesometistic, to help fund a sequel aimed at helping parents.
Richie added: “It’s all about raising awareness of autism to try and stop other children having the same experience as me.”
Richie will be signing books in Waterstones, Sunderland on Monday, February 17 from 11am-2pm, in The Bridges, Sunderland (with the Mustang) from 10am-5pm on Friday, February 21, and on Saturday, February 22, in WHSmith, Metrocentre from 10am-2pm.