World Autism Aware week is 1-7 April 2019
I am asked weekly to donate to support charities, donate to raffle prizes and as much as I would love to donate to you all it is just not possible. So I choose those that mean something to me. As a kid Mum and Dad always helped out other families by providing respite to children with autism. It gave the families that break they needed and the children really did become a part of our family. My first job as an Occupational Therapist was at Giant Steps in Tasmania – a specialised school ensuring focused and specialised education to suit the individual needs of children on the Autism Spectrum. So to be involved with the local autism group is something I am proud to be a part of. And next week is world autism aware week so I wanted to tell you all about them…
But it is a lot more meaningful than hearing it from the Chair of Autism Eileanan Siar herself – Donna Shearsmith.
In her own words:
As soon as January comes it’s thinking caps on as to what Autism Eileanan Siar will do for National Autism Awareness Week. This year it is 1-7th April with 2nd April being World Autism Awareness Day. This year was easy as I knew what I wanted to do and had prepared last year, it will be a doddle right? Well as always is the case, deadlines are fast approaching and not just my deadlines, deadlines for article copy, deadlines for advert copy, arranging photo shoots the list goes on, it becomes hectic!
My main awareness aim was to get children from schools throughout the Western Isles to raise awareness by running an Autism Friendly Poster Competition. This would be judged and the winning posters would be displayed throughout the community. A great idea and they help us raise awareness with beautiful colourful pictures – who’s not going to stop and look at a child’s drawing! But the bigger picture was to educate children on autism. I spoke to a parent who’s child had come home from school and told her all about autism….this was great and shows we are achieving what we set out to do!
The way I see it we need to educate the young to promote inclusion and understanding. So poster winners have been selected, off to the printers and then we can start circulating posters. But things don’t stop there Oh no!! We awarded An Lanntair our Business Friendly Autism certificate. This is in recognition of support and inclusion. So we had a photo shoot at 10am no problem kids to school plenty of time piece of cake but not when your husband lets your child eat their pack lunch while your getting your make up on ahhh!!!!! We are going to be late more pack lunch to make of all days it has to be this one.
Into this week what have we got on? A coffee morning, Silly Socks Day – where schools, businesses and organisations are invited to take part. Finally the kids have their very own night at softplay.
So it never stops, it can be very time consuming especially when you have your own things at home going on but I’ve been Chair of Autism Eileanan Siar for just under a year. We have a fantastic team – Claire Morris, Annemarie Mackay and Lynne Smith (fantastic ladies). We work well together and I’m quite proud of what we have achieved together. Most of all we have raised the profile of the group and gained many new members. When you hear feedback from parents of things like “I wish I had joined before now”, “this group has given me a social life” and “I love this little group”, it makes all the long hours that we voluntarily do all worthwhile.
We have held many fundraisers including our own personalised candles obviously hand poured by Sandwick Bay it’s just got to be Sandwick Bay which was undoubtedly a huge success! So with months of fundraising we were able to buy sensory toys and equipment which greatly benefits children with autism and additional needs and when you see the smiles on their faces……I smile too!!!
We are committed to raising awareness, offering parents support and organising activities and events for children and adults. And we will continue to do so, so they can access the same as everyone else in ways they feel comfortable to do so.
Well this is a different kind of way that I never thought I would do to raise awareness for autism. Autism is a life long condition and while some need very little support there are those that need a life time of support. It affects the way a person hears, feels and sees the world around them. Life is full of challenges for those who are affected by autism which some deal with every day! April is approaching so let’s all show our support for autism. As the winning poster from our competition states the motto is ‘the world needs all kinds of minds’. We are all unique and so true acceptance, inclusion and understanding. Let’s make it ok to be different and make our community friendly to those affected by autism.💙💙💙💙
Chair Autism Eileanan Siar
So if you are in Stornoway on Friday the 29th of March then go along to the Autism Coffee morning at the Retirement Centre from 10.30-12.30 and you might just get one of the remaining candles they have left. After all it is for a fantastic cause.
And just get in touch if you would like to work on your own personalised candle