By peoplestaff225
Updated June 05, 2008 09:01 AM

When their son Harry was 2 ½, English model and actress Emma Noble and James Major — son of the former Prime Minister John Major — watched in bewilderment as their toddler slowly retreated into a world all his own, losing his vocabulary along the way. The last word to go was ‘Mummy,’ Emma, 36, recently recalled,

What the couple, who have since divorced, later learned was that Harry — who is now 7 — has autism. Receiving the diagnosis was devastating, Emma said, leaving her feeling "very alone and isolated." Fortunately, years of therapy and determination are yielding good results for Harry — whom Emma likens to an "encyclopedia" and describes as a "chatterbox." Her son is now mainstreamed in school, but progress was not quick or easy.

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Although her marriage began to unravel not long after Harry began his descent into autism, Emma said "it is very important to me that people – and my son, above all – know the two were not connected." Both mother and son have "come a long way" since the initial diagnosis, a moment in their lives that Emma said feels like "another lifetime." She added,

That’s not to say that there still aren’t obstacles to overcome. Harry, Emma said, recently started telling his mom ‘I love you’ — a breakthrough in any context — but he also says it to complete strangers. He gets frustrated and angry, and has difficulty making friends. There’s also the issue of dealing with the reactions of others who are unaware of Harry’s diagnosis. A recent outing to see The Lion King led to an uncomfortable exchange. Recalled Emma,

Emma said she imagines autism must feel like "being in a foreign country and not knowing the language."

Still, with so much to be thankful for, Emma said she wants to "give others hope" by speaking out about Harry’s diagnosis and progress.

Source: The Sun; Photo by Ferdaus Shamim/

Thanks to CBB reader Chloe.