A FATHER who has been living with undiagnosed autism for most of his life wants to give something back and help others.

Richard Lelliott said his diagnosis two years ago helped him understand the difficulties he has had throughout his life.

The 49-year-old is now taking part in studies into the experiences of people with autism and mental illness, which he was told about by staff at Prospect Park Hospital.

The Newbury resident is hoping to encourage others to follow his example to mark International Clinical Trials Day (May 20).

He said: "I ended up being taken into hospital because I’d had a nervous breakdown and I needed help.

"I’ve been through many years of misdiagnosis and I think it’s quite good to be involved in research for that reason. There wasn’t the same understanding of mental health at the time.

“Understanding and knowing how to respond to the voices is giving me a whole new lease of life. It gives me a chance to stabilise myself rather than being reliant on medication.

"Without my care co-ordinator, who is trained in autism and has guided me in the right direction for self care, I likely would not have survived.”

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people interact with others. Most people with the condition see, hear and experience the world differently to those without it.

Mr Lelliott also has complex post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by repeatedly experiencing stressful, frightening or distressing events.

He left his psychiatric healthcare assistant job four years ago and hopes to return to work soon.

Emma Donaldson, from Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Adults on the autism spectrum share certain difficulties, but the diagnosis will affect them in different ways. It is important for us to carry out research to determine if we can improve the services that we offer and in turn potentially improve their lives.

“Mental health studies provide us with more knowledge and information that could lead researchers and clinicians to develop better therapies and treatments.”

Visit: bepartofresearch.uk to find out how you can help with research opportunities.