The Challenges: Autism creates enormous and unexpected challenges to families faced with it - they tug in every direction to help their Autistic loved ones with little or no support from services. The barriers to communication, social issues, the lack of public support and the long term demands on what the future holds adds a further strain on families struggling to cope. The challenges bring out a deep and pure strength of survival in individuals with Autism where their lives revolve around learning to cope with their inner challenges. The drain on physical, mental and emotional energy suggests a need for as much support to cope with the challenges of Autism. Creating awareness alone is inadequate as it is a complexity that cannot be solved without looking into the bigger picture. We need awareness, acceptance and positive solutions for our Autistic community.

The Needs: Our families with Autism are a valuable part of society as such they deserve a chance to lead rich and fulfilling lives. The support must come from education, health and social services. In order to help maximise the potential of our loved ones with Autism they need to be offered the opportunities to bring out the best in their abilities. “Do not let them be locked away but help them in their journey through life.” Families need real help. We need to minimise the stress on families to help them cope by offering the respite and much needed breaks from caring, increase training of staff to enable progress in our children but above all the availability of competent specialists capable of giving an accurate diagnosis of Autism.

Acceptance & Support: The brains of individuals with Autism are differently wired - therefore the key to seeing progress within our community is acceptance & support. Acceptance does not mean tolerance but it requires the recognition of the needs, understanding and the necessary support to fulfil those needs. We see many Autistic adults who have not had the support over the years who continue to struggle – DO NOT NEGLECT THE NEEDS OF OUR LOVED ONES WITH AUTISM.

Look to the future: In supporting our families the funds spent today will mean more able adults in the future resulting in less dependency. I wish to see our loved ones being taught to contribute to society through being taught the necessary skills to achieve these results. The lack of support from services have shown a blinkered and short sighted view where they look at the individual as disabled now and disabled for life. I see the attitude needs to change being that it should be disabled now but let’s make it possible to do what is necessary to help bring out the best in our loved ones with Autism. We need to brighten the future of all individuals on the Autistic Spectrum.