World Autism Awareness week may have been the week before last but Kendal couple Ann Tuson and Adam Hewartson call for awareness building to carry on all year round.
Approximately 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, this means that autism is part of daily life for 2.8 million people.
Ann and Adam know first-hand the challenges and rewards of raising children with the condition. The couple have Matthew 13 who is profoundly autistic and Eleanor 2 who is being assessed for special needs and thought to be autistic. They also have Katie who is just 4 months old.
The couple believe that we can all learn something very positive from those with autism. Ann explains that her autistic children have taught her to see the value of things differently and to love without limits. “When they are happy they don’t hold back and aren’t afraid or embarrassed of expressing their happiness. It’s incredibly grounding and enlightening to see such joy often over something that might otherwise be overlooked”.
“My autistic children have taught me to be proud of all our achievements. It often takes longer to do something but what that means is that it becomes a much greater achievement and we celebrate it as such.”
Challenges for the family include balancing the needs of Matthew and Eleanor whose autism affect them very differently “One child is reclusive where as the other feeds off sensory input and needs to go outside regularly, one child had great difficulty understanding and the other is non-verbal. These are just a couple of examples of the challenges we face”.
One of the challenges the family faces on a daily basis is having little time to do anything outside caring for the children “On top of caring for their immediate requirements having children with special needs means regular appointments, meetings and copious amounts of paperwork just for the children to be able to have access to their education, health care and to ensure that we are adequately supporting their needs at home.”
Adam and Ann have been planning to get married for nearly two years but with the various daily challenges they face they simply haven’t had time to begin their wedding arrangements. Normally a private couple, Ann and Adam decided to apply for a wedding competition and want to use this exposure to raise awareness and understanding of Autism. They have now reached the final stages of the competition at Castle Green Hotel in Kendal and are hoping to gain enough public votes to win. “We really want to get married before Eleanor starts school and winning this competition would make that possible for us, but more importantly my son Matthew is very excited about us getting married, he tells me that it would be like normal but with wings”.
“It’s also important to us to be able to give back to some of the support groups that have helped us over the years so we’ll be accepting donations to an as yet to be decided autism charity or local special needs facility and ICP Support instead of wedding gifts.”
To help Adam and Ann in their competition you can vote for them on the Castle Green website www.castlegreen.co.uk/win-your-wedding.aspx Voting closes at midnight on 15/4/2018