Mum keen to shine light on autism myths

Mary West from Granville has three autistic children in her family of nine kids.
Mary West from Granville has three autistic children in her family of nine kids. Alistair Brightman

MARYBOROUGH mum Mary West knows better then most the struggles faced by those living with autism spectrum disorders.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and with her father, brother, husband Bryan and three of their nine children having the disorder, Mrs West sees it daily.

"There's no cure for autism," she said.

"It's not a disease, it's a disorder you can't rewire the brain."

In 2008 Mr and Mrs West founded Camp Autism, an organisation that offers getaways for families with ASD.

"We just wanted families not to have that isolation," Mrs West said.

"We don't have a cut-off age, they don't stop being autistic and they still need the support."

The group holds different camps throughout the year and now have about 400 members in Queensland and New South Wales.

"There is support out there, people just need to find it," Mrs West said.

She said getting an autism diagnosis can be challenging for families, a long wait for those in the public system and expensive for those who see healthcare professionals privately.

There are also myths and stigma surrounding ASD.

"They're not naughty and it's not bad parenting," Mrs West said.

"There are lots of people who think with a bit more discipline they would become un-autistic."

Autism spectrum disorder

  • A lifelong disability affecting about one in 100 Australians, or 230,000 people.
  • The word spectrum reflects the different challenges that people with autism face and the degree to which they may be affected.
  • The main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.

Topics:  autism granville maryborough mum

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