For the Timothy family, acceptance and adaptation is just a way of life - but mam Clare is all too aware that’s not the case for everyone, and this Autism Acceptance Week she has made an impassioned plea for society to do better.

Clare lives in County Durham with her husband Matt, who was diagnosed as autistic at the age of 42, and their children Scarlett, 13, and Dylan, 10, who are also autistic.

Acceptance is just a way of life for us – I am outnumbered three to one at home. I am the one who is having to adapt all the time. Dylan always jokes that I am the odd one out’.

Since Scarlett was diagnosed autistic at the age of seven, Clare said her own understanding and awareness of autism has grown, and she now wants more people to broaden their understanding of autism and neurodiversity.

One key problem, she said, is that people still perpetuate unhelpful and inaccurate stereotypes. One common myth, for example, is that autistic people cannot display empathy.

“People can say really unhelpful things, such as ‘Autistic people have no empathy’. Yet my daughter Scarlett is so loving,” she said. “We need to get away from those stereotypes.”

So, in line with Autism Acceptance Week, Clare wants people to be unafraid to ask questions or to admit when they might have got something wrong.

“It’s just about trying,” she said. “People can make mistakes and that is okay. As parents we get things wrong all the time, but I just have to hold my hands up and say ’I got that wrong, sorry’. 

“My children seek those honest qualities in people and by admitting that I don’t always get everything right, even as their mam, it empowers them.”

Recently Clare and Matt were asked to join ITV’s Diversity Panel and she now offers advice and feedback to the broadcaster on stories relating to neurodiversity, as well as the correct use of language.

Clare said this has given her confidence that, by the time Dylan and Scarlett enter the world of work, companies and organisations will be more accepting of people who may need some form of additional support.

And, while she knows it may be a long way off, Clare said her ultimate goal is for her children to grow up in a world where autism is simply accepted on neutral terms.

“I’m on a bit of a crusade. For my children, I want being autistic to be like having asthma or eczema or anything else you might come across.

“Because autism isn’t always obvious people sometimes don’t think of how disabling it can be. I always say to people, ‘Imagine you’re talking about someone in a wheelchair and making adaptations for them’. It really hits home for people when they think of it in that way.”

Find out more about Autism Acceptance Week