Richard, one of SNAP Cymru’s patrons, is perhaps best known as Oliver in the television sitcom Coupling, Chris in Grownups and Joe Andrews in BBC Wales drama Belonging. Richard has also appeared in as Dr Simon Hills in Doctors and currently plays Simon Lowsley, the deputy head teacher in Waterloo Road.
Richard also finds time to work with the Princes Trust teaching film and drama to young people in Cardiff and teaches at the Royal Welsh College of music and drama and at the Young Actors Studio.
What is less know is that Richards son Jaco, who is nearly nine, has a form of autism known as PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) which affects his speech and his motor skills.
Richard was interviewed on the Wright Show on Channel 5 on the 3rd of December, on the merits of mainstream vs special school for children and young people with ASD and about Richards own personal experience.
“Jaco had an early diagnosis which was great, because it meant we could put all the systems into place for school and things early on but other children are a lot older which is harder.”
Richard said that Jaco attends a mainstream school in Cardiff and his teachers and peers are absolutely brilliant. “He is surrounded by these amazing people who help him and other children who nurture him. He has a one-to-one teaching assistant at school and he loves it. His teachers in Cardiff are superb and are always open to new ideas.”
“Jaco struggles to understand things but I see him as a unique, wonderful individual but that Autism is complex and each child is different, requiring different support and choices.”
Richard told Mathew Wright that “as a parent you need to be in tune with the needs of your child, that things constantly evolve and you need to be a few steps ahead of the system to achieve the best support and education for your child.” Richard mentioned that SNAP Cymru in Wales and the NAS had been an enormous help to him and Jaco, during the statutory assessment process and beyond.
Richard has been a patron and strong supporter of SNAP Cymru for many years because he wanted to get involved with raising awareness, and much-needed funds, for a charity that he feels makes a difference. Richard is also a patron for Autism Puzzles, a Cardiff-based charity run by parent volunteers who support others families going through diagnosis and following diagnosis, with therapy led sessions, drop-in’s and family fun sessions. They can be contacted on: 02920 811114 or email AutismPuzzles@hotmail.co.uk