"Someone recently said to me ‘I’ve just been watching your son, odd little chap isn’t he?’ and it occurred to me that people who haven’t known him very long don’t really get his little Carlisms. So I thought I’d tell you a little about him.
Born with a failure to thrive Carl has had many challenges throughout his life, at the age of 3 he was diagnosed with a learning disability at the rate of half his age alongside feeding problems from birth which led to him being tube fed first with an NG tube and later with a gastrostomy. There followed many different feeding routines to try to overcome the constant vomiting until the age of 7 when he was diagnosed with a lactose intolerance. It was then we were able to start the long process of teaching him to eat. As Carl had never eaten he hadn’t developed the muscles in his mouth needed for early speech and with his learning disability his speech and vocabulary were both affected as were his fine and gross motor skills.
Fast forward many years of speech therapy and physiotherapy and many trips to various hospital departments covering almost everything from head to foot (literally) Carl isn’t diagnosed with Autism but I can see similarities on Carl's Journey as experienced by those on the big and beautiful spectrum.
Carl on the Mat at the Fighting For Autism Seminar held by club affiliate Immortal 365
under the watchful eye of Coach Ambassador Tony Bailey
under the watchful eye of Coach Ambassador Tony Bailey
In 2012 I received an email from Cambridge’s disability sport initiative inviting Carl to participate in a 6 week summer course of Martial Arts run by Cambridge Kung Fu and that is where he met his now friend and Sensei Neil Kirkland. Neil immediately got his Carlisms and Carl had a great time. At the end of the course we had a dilemma, for Carl to continue with martial arts where could he go? For his age (18 at the time) he should join the adults, not an option. For his size he should join the youths, again not an option as his learning disability means he could never keep up and for his ability he should join the very young class, obviously not an option, he was 18! Neil told me to leave it with him and true to his word a few weeks later contacted me with details of a new class. The Snow Leopards, a class for any kind of disability has grown from strength to strength and Carl continues to attend every week. In the meantime Neil set up his own association, Adaptive Martial Arts UK and Ireland open to anyone, any age any ability, is fully inclusive and means me and Carl can train together. It has provided many opportunities to meet some truly inspirational and brilliant people and led to Carl being given the great honour of becoming a Voice for the Voiceless Ambassador with Fighting For Autism.
Throughout all of this and despite many years of looking and testing no one has ever been able to give us a reason for Carl’s disability until... now! We have recently received confirmation, thanks to the advance in technology, of a diagnosis of Noonans Syndrome, a genetic disorder that proves a mutation of one of Carl’s genes. So after 23 years of not knowing we now have an answer, it’s quite something but won’t make any difference to Carl and his little Carlisms.So there he is, Carl Clements, in a rather big and long winded nutshell, my very own Peter Pan, my fully qualified X-Man, my Hero".
Carl With his coaches Robbie and Neil from Adaptive Martial Arts UK and Ireland, along with Coach Ambassador Anthony Pillage
Carl continues to go from strength to strength, his willingness to learn and make a brighter day for everyone despite of the challenges and adversities that he has faced is truly the stuff that legends are made of, earlier this year Carl was in hospital and was incredibly poorly, but bounced back with enthusiasm and spark, Coach Ambassador Neil Kirkland and everyone at Adaptive Martial Arts UK and Ireland really do bring the very best out in people, Neil was recently awarded Community Martial Artist of the Year at the British Martial Art Awards, an award given to a remarkable man who most definitely dares to be different and whose club, friendship and guidance will see so many inspiring stories of some of the most courageous people you could ever meet is what the world needs to see more of.
The Snow Leopards class that is run by Neil's school does really strike a chord, as the snow leopard is unable to roar like the other big cats, but certainly adapt to their surroundings, for more details on Adaptive Martial Arts UK And Ireland please check out their Facebook page.
Carl holding the runner up award for Seminar of the Year at the 2017 British Martial Arts Awards along with Head of Fighting For Autism ( Europe) Paul, and Coach Ambassadors Pete Holmes, Chris Jones, Tony Bailey, Neil Kirkland, Steve Lloyd and Russell Jarmesty.
The award was won for the Fighting For Autism Seminar held at Immortal 365 Martial Arts Academy in Peterborough UK.
We also wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every ambassador and club involved with Fighting For Autism, the award received is testament to the hard work, care and support shown by some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet who are dedicated to making a difference to so many , these are the true superheroes that are allowing some phenomenal people to chase their dreams and show the world that Impossible really means I Am Possible, if you dare to be different.
And finally a massive Thank You to Christine for an amazing write up on a truly remarkable young man, Carl you are a Superstar :-)