As part of World Autism Awareness Month, the National Autistic Society in Bexhill and Hastings wants to brush away the stereotypes and preconceptions of autism as a disability.
A recent survey carried out by the National Autistic Society shows 79 per cent of families with an autistic child feel socially isolated, prompting local NAS members to express how they feel they could be better supported by the public.
Shaine Fletton said: “Autism to me is not being able to take my son go karting or to the cinema. Not being able to share interests or play games together. Autism for me is having to live with a toddler trapped in a growing body and being given none of the allowances in society that are given to toddler behaviours because he is 12 and should know better.
“Autism is not being able to go to crowded places or travel abroad for holidays, or not being able to go to just any restaurant we choose.
“Autism is not being able to talk at more than single word level and unable to communicate his frustrations and instead resorts to shouting and screaming.”
Mum Emma Sherlock said: “Autism is watching your children struggle and be scared daily in life doing the most simple tasks like having a bath, going to the toilet, sitting down to dinner and just going out in the car. To watch them struggle to fit into daily life when they are being judged by people and for the parents to ask for help and support and have to wait years to see a specialist and to get any help or support.”
But of course caring for an autistic child can also be fulfilling and enriching.
Sian Daniels said: “Autism is enjoying simple things, like dancing to the radio or a walk in the park. Autism doesn’t have to be limiting.”
She added: “From experience, the best thing the public or retail staff can do is to ask if we are okay or if they can help at all. This is better than funny looks.”
Nicky Stimson added: “Autism has changed my life and that of the people around me. My son is precious and perfect to me in an imperfect world.
“I wouldn’t change him for the world but I would change the world for him.”
* To find out more, contact NAS Bexhill and Hastings via firstname.lastname@example.org.