Saturday, 21 March 2015

Autism awareness 'coffee afternoon' a huge success

An event organised to raise awareness of autism in Scotland has been acknowledged as a huge success.

Held recently in Ardrossan Library, the coffee afternoon brought together the two principle candidates contesting the North Ayrshire & Arran constituency at May’s UK Election – Katy Clark (Labour) and Patricia Gibson (SNP).  Also in attendance was Richard Wilkinson of the local Conservative Association who represented Tory candidate Jamie Greene.

Mother and daughter campaign team Suzanne and Jordan Fernando were behind the informal meeting that allowed local people with autism to question politicians on their parties’ policies regarding dealing with the illness.

Jordan, who has autism, explained, “Our politicians care about the issues that matter to us, and by taking the time to sit down with them, face to face, for a conversation, we were able to raise awareness of autism with those who want to represent us in parliament.”

The young Ardrossan woman added, “The coffee afternoon was about what it's like to live with autism in our constituency and how our MPs can help.”

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people.  It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.  It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.  Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.  People with autism may also experience over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

Jordan Fernando’s work in supporting those affected by autism and raising awareness of the illness saw her win a Cream of Ayrshire Award last year.

Photo (l to r): Patricia Gibson (SNP), John Snoddy (Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament), Richard Wilkinson (Conservative), Suzanne Fernando, Katy Clark (Labour), Jordan Fernando (and friend), Fiona Bain (North Ayrshire Council).

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