Why Can't You Hear Me?

Our Autistic Daughter's Struggle to Be Understood

In the early hours of 28th July 2016, Colette McCulloch was hit by a lorry and killed on the A1. Eighteen hours earlier she had walked out of the specialist care facility for autistic adults where she was being treated.

Here, Andy and Amanda McCulloch tell the story of their daughter's life and untimely death: the years in which her autism went undiagnosed, her lifelong battle with eating disorders and the lack of support for her complex needs. The book is interspersed with Colette's own vivid and eloquent writing, her poetry and prose articulating her experiences grappling with a world forever at odds with her. Colette's story is a call to action and ultimately leaves a message of hope for a future in which autistic people will be better understood and able to flourish.
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Press reviews for: Why Can't You Hear Me?

Janet Treasure, Professor of Psychiatry, King's College London

This poignant memoir of a young women born with autism spectrum disorder is a moving exemplification of the minds of others. Her parents use highly attuned empathy and biographical knowledge with insights from Colette's poetry in a compelling forensic analysis of her tragically short life story.

Sara Ryan, author of Justice for Laughing Boy

This is a breathless and devastating read, capturing the brilliance and intensity of a young woman who lived her shortened life never quite fitting in, all the while documenting her feelings beautifully through her writing and artwork. It is also a story of the strength of family love and in particular parents who both lay witness to and, with unwavering determination, try to ease the struggles their daughter experienced over years. Colette's brutal and preventable death led the McCulloch's on a new journey in search of answers and accountability. They were forced to negotiate a whole new world of coronial processes, obstruction and the contempt that families in such situations too often face. It is deeply saddening that bereaved families are subjected to consistently hostile and unnecessary treatment. Why Can't You Hear Me? is, finally, an account of the immense losses that accompany the failing of health, social care and education systems to understand and recognise autism in girls and young women. I wish I had met Colette. She was clearly a remarkable individual and this book speaks to her character, vivacity and life.

Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST

This book is an emotional rallying call for changes in the way we respond to women with autism and mental ill-health. Colette, a talented artist and writer, conveyed her inner torment and needs but was not seen or heard by state agencies. Narrated by her loving family it conveys their fight against a system that failed her, and them, in both life and death. In their pursuit of truth and accountability they have ensured Colette's creative free spirit lives on and we learn from her.

Pete Morgan

Professional Social Work magazine

Family's tragic journey with autistic child must be read...The book is a powerful indictment of the agencies and often well-meaning professionals who failed to identify both the basis of Colette's behaviour and her care and support needs. This is a challenging read for all professionals working with children and adults on the autistic spectrum and rightly sits alongside Justice for Laughing Boy in particular as books that should be required reading on social work and adult safeguarding courses.

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