A TEENAGER has launched a personal crusade to campaign for those with autism to be heard.
Aaron Sullivan, 17, of Pett Level Road, Fairlight, said he intends to be the ‘Martin Luther King of autism’ in his aim to get more support for people with the condition.
The Bexhill College student has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.
Aaron is an Autism Ambassador at the college, helping students and staff understand the condition better, as well as offering support.
He said: “There are many minority groups that have found a voice over the years, the physically disabled, ethnic minorities, gay couples and so on. However, those with hidden disabilities such as autism, struggle to be heard or have their views taken into account. The majority of people with Asperger’s are either unemployed or underemployed.
“I speak articulately and to look at me there is no outward sign that I have a disability. I’m bright, conscientious and I come across as able, but there are things I need support with. I have a hidden disability, however this is not a mental illness and my disability should not be a barrier to work or education. I’d like to support others with the condition to achieve their dream. My dream is to be heard and valued as a contributing member of society. We do have a voice and we want to be able to live life the way we want, not the way ignorance or prejudice dictates. I’d like to be the Martin Luther King of autism.”
Aaron’s mum, Maggie, said: “Aaron’s efforts are entirely voluntary and he hopes that greater awareness will stamp out prejudice and increase accessibility to education, jobs and support for independent living.
According to the National Autistic Society, Only 15 per cent of people with autism are in full-time employment, despite the fact that 79 per cent of people with autism on out of work benefits want to work. Aaron has written to several high profile figures and has received very encouraging support including several letters from Rick Stein, the celebrity chef.” Aaron has set up a Just Giving page to support the National Autistic Society in raising awareness. To donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/aaronsautismawarenesscampaign.