HE WAS "written off" by doctors after being diagnosed with a severe form of autism at the age of two.

But George Stooks has defied the medics by passing a raft of exams, learning to drive and becoming a qualified coach with Kidz Camp UK.

The 22-year-old Brockenhurst College student has blossomed with the help of his mother, Jane Atkinson, and the Son Rise programme in America.

Jane, of Sway, is now a consultant who helps other families of autistic children learn how to treat the condition through play therapy.

Daily Echo:

She said: "For the first 15 months of his life George was a typical toddler. Then he started screaming all the time, refused to make eye contact and became very withdrawn.

"He was diagnosed with severe autism and I was advised to put him into care. I was told he would never talk or gain life skills - he was completely written off.

"It was devastating - I felt my world had literally been taken away.

"When something like that happens in your life there are no words to describe how you feel and how lonely you are."

But George has made remarkable progress over the years and now has a bright future ahead of him.

After taking him to America when he was three Jane devised her own therapy for her son and later embarked on a programme of home-schooling.

George was six when he started to talk and was "fully verbal" two years later.

He entered mainstream education at the age of nine and passed his GCSEs a few years later. At the age of 21 he qualified as a coach for Kidz Camps as well as gaining a diploma in child health and social care.

It has been a long hard struggle but Jane and her son are reaping the rewards of their dedication.

Jane said: "I think it's down to my determination and his willingness to go on the journey with me. He is an exceptionally sociable young man who will hopefully meet a life partner."

Daily Echo:

Last year Jane launched the Positive Path Foundation (PPF) to aid people aged 18 and over who have learning difficulties and physical challenges.

One of the charity's main aims is to help its members make friends, widen their social circle and maybe find a partner.

A recent survey found that only 32.1% of people with autism had a partner and only nine per cent were married.

PPF organises social events that enable members to meet new people and hone their friendship skills. It also stages workshops that help people gain life skills.

Should friendships turn into something more staff are on hand to chaperone members on dates, helping them to nurture their relationship in a safe environment.