My name is Elizabeth Jenkins and I am Andrew Driffield's Mother. It sometimes feels as if I have always been known as "that’s Andrew’s Mother".

Andrew was a beautiful but exhausting child. He went to sleep at a normal time … then woke about 1am and stayed that way until about 5am, then dozed till about 7am. As he got older he would climb out of his bed, and head straight for my side of the bed. He would lie there quietly in my arms, only needing the security and warmth. Until he was fifteen years old this remained a habit. My memory of these events is a blur as by the time he was five, exhaustion had replaced recall.

Andrew’s only word was "Mum" until he was about four. His language was so obscure that I had to translate even to his father. He was destructive. He destroyed toys, other children, and household furniture. To do any housework that would have taken my eyes of him for a second, I had to lock the doors and windows. I vividly remember the day guests arrived at the front door and Andrew left unnoticed by the back door. The panic started as we realised he was not amongst the visiting children until a phone call from the local supermarket let us know that a little blonde haired boy was riding the rocking horse in the entrance. When asked how they knew whom to ring, they said that he was being guarded by a small black dog called Benjie who was wearing his identification. Horses and dogs remain a big part of Andrew’s life to this day.

When Andrew was five we went to a Specialist Unit. He was tested and we were observed as a family unit. Andrew evidently passed but I failed. I was told I was overprotective, and I needed to allow Andrew to discover consequences for himself. That afternoon he wanted to ride his bike with the other boys - and he was hit by a car. From then on I decided I wanted a live five year old, not a dead one.

Andrew started on an early intervention program at Newcastle University where he attended a unit with one-on-one teaching for the morning and then returning to the public school for the afternoon classes. It was a disaster. It was the beginnings of ‘integration’.

They failed to see how children who are already different do not gain acceptance by being treated differently. In one year he learnt to write his name ‘Andrew’ with difficulty. They were still claiming that he was just a slow learner and would catch up. My observation was, had I had a monkey in the same circumstances, I would have had the same outcome. The public school wanted to expel him. He was disruptive, angry and aggressive - and he was only in first class.

A Steiner School had opened in the region and after five minutes of hearing their philosophies I sent Andrew. It was like rain and sunshine on a small plant. He thrived. He learnt to listen, he learnt to speak and the aggression gradually decreased. Andrew was now nine years old and still a handful. I eventually took him to a pediatrician, left him in the waiting room, and told the doctor I was there under false pretensions, that I’d come as a stressed adult, remembering I was still to blame for all his behaviors. Andrew was brought in, and off he went - over the desk, under the desk, etc. As luck would have it, the pediatrician had just attended a conference run by a leading Sydney professor who had described Andrew’s features and symptoms to a T. We were sent to the professor in Sydney, who ordered blood tests and announced that Andrew had what he called a fractured X chromosome. He said that when enough children registered similar symptoms it would be given a name. That was in 1983, prior to the genetic testing available today, and the recognition of FRAGILE X.

At this stage Simon, Andrew's older brother, started riding horses, and I was instructing at pony club, so I enrolled Andrew as well because he was always wandering off and worrying me. I threw him up on a horse just to know where he was.

He had a natural ability, and somehow the horses seem to know that they had to protect him. It was also the only animal that Andrew could hug and not cause a decapitation.

Andrew tried harder than anyone I know, and still does. Riding put Andrew on a par with his peers, so when he got upset about not being able to read and write like other kids, we were able to point out that if they tried to ride they would probably fall off - everybody had something they were good at and could do well, and his was riding.

Andrew became Pony Club rider of the year in 1986, runner-up in 1987.

Andrew who still couldn’t read or write, managed to learn dressage tests by walking on the lounge room floor from letter to letter and learning it by pattern, followed by replica in size to the real thing he walked, trotted and cantered around on his own two feet, THEN he graduated to four hooves for the real thing. He also learnt to find and remember his way around a cross country courses. For this we photographed Andrew and his horse jumping each jump at the practice day, put them into a small album, and it was his bedtime story for the two weeks prior to the competition. He also learnt to remember show jumping courses. He had the very best of coaches and everyone liked him, because he kept trying and never gave up.

In the late 80s my first marriage broke up and Andrew and I moved to Darwin and it was here that I met my new husband Stephen Jenkins.

One of Andrew’s goals was to attend 'normal' high school and eventually he did. Darwin High School had a wonderful Special Education Unit, headed by an incredible women, Lauren Tinapple. She remains a devoted Andrew fan to this day, and has always been there for me in the disastrous times. There were times when I felt we had pushed Andrew past his capabilities, as he didn’t seem to fit into an acceptable mold. His expectations exceeded his abilities, and my heart ached on many occasions. Even though he was teased and made fun off, he is glad he did it, and developed yet another strength of character. Through various government employment options Andrew tried many jobs, some of which were total failures. He was happiest when he went to the Katherine Rural College and did a six month Jackaroo course which they then extended into a ‘work experience’ for an additional six months as he needed extra time to learn. He eventually got a live-in job with a family in the middle of the territory for six months before the wet season set in.

Andrew is so driven, and one of his goals has always been to ride for Australia in the three day event just like his old pony club friend Matt Ryan does. It was hard to say to him or find a way of saying that it would be very hard for him to be selected, but that did not deter him.

Andrew was accepted as student at the NSW Equestrian Centre with Heath and Rozzie Ryan, who had been his instructors since he was seven. He lived, breathed and rode horses with the best for six months. He finally realised that this goal may be a little too hard to reach. In 1997 it was suggested that Andrew join Riding for the Disabled. As his abilities exceeded all the students, Andrew became an Assistant Coach at RDA and loved helping all the children to ride and benefit from the experience.

In the October of 1997 Andrew rode as a member of the Northern Territory State Team at the RDA National Championships. He was now riding and competing against others of similar disabilities. Andrew started to shine, placing 2nd in his first National competition, coming closer to his goals.

To allow Andrew to reach his full potential, and access regular coaching, we made the major move to South Australia. Since then he has improved each year, and in 1999 was selected on the RDA National Squad. He is now among the top riders in Australia and hopes to be selected to represent Australia at the next World Championships.

This is quite an achievement especially when his Grade, Grade 3E for intellectual disability, is not recognised at international competitions, so he rides against able minded, but disabled body riders in Grade 3, a grade above his, and riding against the likes of Julie Higgins who won double gold at the Sydney Paralympics.

By far the most significant change in Andrews's life has been our discovery of Sue Dengate’s book FED UP in 1998. Through use of the Fed Up diet and avoiding all intake of natural and artificial chemicals that Andrew reacts to, his mind is clearer, and he is able to control his actions and tempers. As he says, he hates it when he eats the wrong foods because it makes him feel bad and depressed. Before discovering the diet we had some hellish times, including major temper tantrums which in the main were triggered or caused by the wrong foods. Andrew is 6 feet tall and very strong and broke his Step-father's ribs one Xmas, while giving him a Xmas morning hug, so if he is in a food related temper tantrum, beware.

Andrew still aims to reach his goal of representing Australia and is hoping for selection onto the Australian Paralympic Team.

Andrew was recently assessed by a leading psychologist, and has a measured Full IQ of around 65 and an Overall Adaptive Functioning cognitive measurement below the 1st percentile, so it is amazing that Andrew is not doing what a specialist once told us was all that was possible, to expect nothing more than having him working in a sheltered workshop doing repetitive tasks. Although eligible for a full disability pension Andrew has foregone it to work 5 days a week on a recycling truck so he can afford to reach his goals and keep his mind and body active instead of sitting at home watching TV.

If there is one phrase that says it all about Andrew it is these words from Calvin Coolidge: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. And without the fed up diet, he certainly would not be where he is today, in mind or ability.