For years Richie Smith had no idea why he felt compelled to touch things and to act the way he did in different situations.
After battling through his childhood and describing himself as “feeling like a freak” at times - he was finally diagnosed with autism at the age of 33.
Once I was given a diagnosis and the condition was explained a lot of things made sense.Richie Smith
Now, after coming to terms and learning more about the condition which impacted so much on his life, including coping mechanisms, he is now visiting schools in South Tyneside in a bid to raise awareness and greater understanding of autism.
Richie, from South Shields, who created business Awesometistic, said: “When I was diagnosed with autism it felt like a great weight had been lifted and I could finally be myself.
“There was a lot I was doing that I couldn’t make sense as to why I was feeling the way I was in and why I felt I needed to touch things, at times I did feel like a freak.
“But once I was given a diagnosis and the condition was explained a lot of things made sense. It was very much a sensory thing with me.
“Through Awesometistic, I am wanting to give my perspective on my ASD and hope this can help a family, a school or business gain insight into someone they may love, work with or just come into contact with as the world can be a very scary place for someone with ASD.
“I am aware every persons autism is different but my message remains the same for all in that these children need to know that they are loved and can be themselves without fear of being judged whether at home, school or out in public.”
For details on Awesometistic visit www.awesometistic.co.uk