A 13-YEAR-OLD boy has won the coveted Young Person Award at the 2020 National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) Awards.

Marcus Wilton, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and pathological demand avoidance (PDA), has been recognised for his inspirational youth work.

The Chapelford battled his anxiety and struggles with crowds to travel the country and spread his positive message of ‘It’s ok to be different, find your talent, your superpower and run with it’ to other young people.

He spoke at schools and national conferences of more than 900 people, drawing on his personal experiences of exclusion from school and being told he would never amount to anything.

Marcus said: “Being chosen as the winner of the award means the world to me because it shows that the positive message I am trying to deliver to other young people who, like me, have brains that are wired differently, is getting out there.

“My mission is always to raise awareness around neurodiverse conditions like ADHD and Autism and if it helps just one young person to accept their differences in a positive way then it is all worthwhile.”

He also mentored other young people who struggle with similar issues to himself and starred in a BBC documentary called Positive ADHD.

Marcus’ grandma Jean Fitzpatrick said: “Marcus makes me proud everyday. I have watched him grow so much as his mission to help others understand their differences in a positive way has gone from strength to strength.

“He never fails to amaze me with his positive outlook on life and his determination to get the message out there that kids who are neurodiverse are not 'mad, sad or bad', just misunderstood.”

Marcus also works to change this stigma by talking to professionals and providing a ‘lived experience’ of neurodiverse conditions, from a young person’s perspective.

nasen Chief executive Prof Adam Boddison said: “We are delighted that Marcus Wilton has been awarded the Young Person Award and want to recognise his incredible and inspirational achievements.

“We are proud to spotlight his work that benefits so many young people and professionals as well as the wider education and SEND sectors.”

Diana Dewing, Managing Director at Thrive, sponsors of the nasen Awards, added: “Marcus is an inspirational young man who has dedicated himself to helping others.

“He has achieved an incredible amount at a very young age and is a very worthy winner of this important award.”

nasen is a charity that champions innovative work ensuring children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reach their full potential.