Andrew The Stokie

Andrew Autism

Football can be a fantastic bond for everyone.

Here, Kerry tells a story of her Stoke supporting brother Andrew.

Growing up with a younger brother with autism and related learning disabilities has never been easy and at times a real challenge for all of the family, especially for my brother himself.

Anyone who has any knowledge of autism will understand that it can often involve obsessive and repetitive behaviours which again for family members can be draining to manage on a daily basis, especially if the obsessive behaviour is train spotting- no offence to train spotters intended.

How lucky are we then that Andrews’s obsession and passion in life happens to be Stoke City and all things related to the club. He is a season ticket holder along with my father, and they troop down to the Brit together come rain, hail or snow to watch their team. It’s their ritual…father and son together, sharing a common interest.

For those 90 minutes of the game Andrew is no longer a 33 year old man locked in his own world of autism. He is part of something; he’s in the crowd, he’s chanting, cheering, singing, and sometimes jeering and swearing at the ref…pretty standard for a Stoke fan!

He loves every moment immersed in the atmosphere. For those that love, care and understand him this is a wonderful sight to see, it’s kind of normal…it’s what tens of thousands of young blokes and girls are doing every match day with their mates.

As a family we would like to say thank you to the club for unknowingly giving Andrew a gift. A gift of helping a young man who struggles to be part of this world to be part of something big , something important and a sense of belonging .

People with autism can often feel left out, alone and separate, however with SCFC Andrew isn’t left out alone or separate…he truly belongs!

June Update: Sadly since this short story which was written for April’s issue of the Stoke Loud & Proud magazine, Andrew has been in hospital with a severe illness for the past six weeks, requiring round the clock medical support and care.  As a family we visit daily and although he struggles to communicate with us due to his illness we update him with Stoke news, transfer rumours and Euro’s chat.

This isn’t a sob story- there are lots of families struggling with illness and disability.  This is a short story of how the wonderful game of football can lift the spirits and give hope to those who can sometimes be left behind…  

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