SOUTH-WEST parents of children with autism have been urged to have their say on a new support and advocacy group.
Nanjing Night Net

Gippsland mother Bronwyn Davis’ four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism late last year and Ms Davis said trying to navigate the service system was impossible and overwhelming.

With the help of Autism Victoria chief executive Murray Dawson-Smith, Ms Davis has founded Support and Advocacy for Autism Spectrum Individuals and Families (SAAIF).

“At the moment there is nothing specific in terms of advocacy for autism,” she said.

“A lack of specialist advocacy support means that parents and individuals do not have someone to adequately represent them or advocate on their behalf and are forced to go it alone, something the majority of us are poorly equipped to do.

“Sadly, this is resulting in the needs of autistic children often not being taken into account, particularly in the classroom, or children being unfairly labelled as naughty or disruptive. The upshot is enormous distress all round.”

Ms Davis said preventive advocacy was a key to getting into the school system.

Those interested in becoming involved or providing input are invited to take part in SAAIF’s founding reference group on Saturday at Pakenham Sports Club, from 10am. Those unable to attend but would like to have their say are invited to visit the SAAIF website at saaif.org.au or call Bronwyn Davis on 1800 778 008.

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