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Awareness day for autism

Date: 04/12/2008           Category: Childrens Care

Understanding autism and how it affects families is the aim of a campaign being supported by a Medway councillor. Cllr David Wildey, who is Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Care, has given his support to the Walk in Our Shoes campaign being run by TreeHouse the national charity for autism education. On Wednesday (3 December) Cllr Wildey joined Gayna Simmonds and her 12-year-old son Oliver, who has autism, as they went about their daily routine. His visit coincided with International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Gayna, who lives in Rochester with her family, is the founding parent and chairman of Medway Autism Group and Information Centre (MAGIC), which currently supports 179 families of children with autism in Medway. Her 19-year-old daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome. Gayna set up MAGIC in January 2006 to support parents of children with autism. She said: “I am committed to ensuring that parents have a key role in shaping the planning, design and delivery of autism services locally.” Cllr Wildey met Gayna and Oliver at home before and after school to see their family life in action. He also attended the MAGIC youth group in the evening. He said: “We need to promote better understanding of autism within our schools and the wider community. The time I’ve spent shadowing Gayna and her family has been incredibly insightful and interesting. Attending the group gave me a good opportunity to meet parents and their children and learn how autism affects their lives.” Gayna said: “I appreciated the time Cllr Wildey has spent with my family. His support is so important in raising awareness of the reality of living with autism. We hope this is the start of a positive and constructive relationship to ensure there are more and better autism services locally and nationally.” [ends]