Embracing Autism: The Souch Family’s Journey and Advocacy

AUTISM AWARENESS | 2nd April 2024

For Leila and Steve Souch, raising awareness of the challenges faced by those living with autism has become a way of life since the birth of their beautiful middle son, Reuben, in 2019. Over the past five years, the Souch family has navigated an uphill battle to find answers and support for Reuben, who began to show signs of autism following a severe infection at just six months old.

Despite responding well to treatment, Reuben’s developmental milestones lagged behind those of his peers. Leila and Steve, also parents to Riley and Rory, grew increasingly concerned. As World Autism Awareness Day approaches on 2nd April, the couple is eager to share their story, hoping to offer support and solidarity to other families facing similar challenges.

“Every mother knows their own child, and I just knew instinctively he wasn’t the same,” Leila shared. “Having already raised one son, I thought I knew what to expect, but Reuben was different. He didn’t crawl, didn’t speak, and wouldn’t eat. It was a year before he was officially diagnosed with autism, and the stress of it all really took its toll. I felt incredibly isolated and desperate for answers. The emotional strain led to a complete breakdown.”

Even after receiving Reuben’s diagnosis, the Souch family found themselves navigating a complex and often frustrating system, contending with ignorance and prejudice along the way. “The only way we have been able to carry on is by sticking together,” Leila emphasized. “The emotional and financial strain has been enormous, but it has made us all so much stronger.”

Leila recalled one particularly painful experience:

“We were on a flight back from the Canaries. Reuben was tired and overstimulated, and he wouldn’t stop screaming. I was standing at the back, trying desperately to calm him, when a man shouted, ‘Will that kid ever shut the f*** up?!’ I have never felt so angry in my entire life. Reuben is non-verbal, so he can’t communicate verbally. He isn’t naughty; he just expresses himself differently. That moment will stay with me forever.”

The strength of the family’s bond, especially with their three sons, has influenced their Northamptonshire-based IT support consultancy, 3RS IT Solutions. The company’s name and brand colors, chosen by Riley, Reuben, and Rory, reflect their close-knit family dynamic. This year, 3RS IT Solutions is proudly supporting Northamptonshire-based charity Teamwork Trust, inspired by Reuben’s journey. Teamwork Trust supports adults with learning disabilities, autism, and mild mental health issues.

“Teamwork Trust is amazing, and I am so grateful that we have a charity like this in Northamptonshire, When we met them, we clicked and decided to support them wholeheartedly. Throughout this year, we will participate in fundraising challenges as a team to raise money, and I will be volunteering to help service users develop their skills.”

Says Leila

At 3RS, the commitment to supporting individuals with autism extends to their workplace. One of Teamwork Trust’s service users, Cullen, has been gaining valuable work experience with the team.

“Cullen has been a fantastic addition to our team and has fitted in brilliantly,” Leila noted. “We also want to challenge employers to really think about the opportunities available to people with autism. Sometimes, small changes in the way you work can make a huge difference and open doors for so many people.”

Leila and Steve’s dedication to raising awareness and fostering inclusion is deeply personal.

“Reuben is our beautiful boy, and we will always do everything we can to celebrate him and his differences,”

As the Souch family continues to advocate for autism awareness and support, they hope their story will inspire others to understand and embrace the unique challenges and joys of raising a child with autism. Through their efforts, they aim to create a more inclusive and supportive community for everyone.