Eve Mclaren has just started college, studying Animal Care. It’s a massive achievement, but has also been a huge step for her, having been diagnosed with autism and also dyslexia and dyspraxia.
It’s been a long journey for the teenager, learning to overcome her diagnosis and the anxiety she has experienced. But her dogs have been a huge source of comfort and support – especially Odie, with whom she enjoys doing dog agility with, and her new dog, Bear. She hopes to take Bear to Crufts and to Paragility in Spain one day.
Eve was referred to the self-management service (SMS) Programme SMS:CONNECT that is delivered by Children’s Health Scotland by her art therapist. That connection has helped Eve to build her confidence, teaching her that she’s not alone as a young person with a chronic condition who needs help and support. She recently helped make an Autism film with her Disability group in the Borders called ‘Autism: My Superpower and Me’ in which she interviewed health professionals and the Scottish Autism CEO.
In June this year she spoke to over 500 delegates at the RCPCH Conference in Liverpool after an invitation from Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland. The message Eve wants to send is that autism makes you special and she hopes people understand more in the future and that every autistic person deserves to have the same rights as any neuro typical person.
Eve’s mum Emma nominated her for the Young Achiever Award and is incredibly proud of her daughter. “Over the last couple of years Eve’s confidence has been building and there’s been such improvement in her self-esteem. She’s taken on challenges – like speaking at the conference and being at forefront of the video – and also been willing to talk to the media. She’s done so well.”
The teenager is working with her mum and local hospital and spoken to lecturers at local colleges to help them understand the needs of students with autism. Eve has done all of this whilst she has been under therapy for her anxiety and chronic pain and achieved other personal challenges such as training her two dogs.
On choosing their Young Achiever, the judges of the Scottish Children’s Health Awards said that it is always one of the most difficult categories to consider. “We were blown away with the entries this year and in choosing Eve we recognised an extraordinary individual. The things she has done to be a role model to others whilst dealing with her own diagnosis are remarkable and she will also hopefully make life easier for those diagnosed with autism in the future. Congratulations Eve and winning the Young Achiever Award.”
Mum, Emma, added: “This award feels like the pinnacle to a journey that Eve’s been on since the age of 10. It’s shown her she is valued as a young person by so many. It has heartened her that so many people are willing and want to hear her story and hopes, through winning this award, that it will inspire so many others to achieve anything they put their mind to. It also helps to highlight the importance of services such as SMS:CONNECT but more specifically through their support that every child and young person can find their own superpower.”
Both Eve and Emma are delighted at this achievement and are keen to acknowledge they couldn’t have done it without the support of Beth Davidson and all the staff at SMS:CONNECT. They hope that going forward all schools, colleges and workplaces will understand the importance of supporting people with autism so that they can achieve their dreams and ambitions.