Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

'Autism Isn't Something Scary'

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

'Autism Isn't Something Scary'

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Mortimer Luke.Mortimer@dailymercury.com.au

DEBBIE Brooker has helped scores of people in the Mackay community affected by autism since she organised the inaugural Autism Information Afternoon in 2009.

Saturday's event was her last as coordinator of Mackay Autism Support Group and, unsurprisingly, she wanted to go out with a bang.

It's safe to say that she's achieved her goal -- about 80 people attended the information afternoon at the Ocean International in Mackay, which is jointly run by Autism Queensland.

The event covered topics such as classroom strategies for teachers and parents, autism advocacy, strategies for taking kids on the spectrum into public situations and a Q&A with Hayley Gosney, a 22-year-old disability carer who lives with autism.

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people, among other things, according to Autism Spectrum Australia.

About one in 100 Australians are on the spectrum, which varies from person to person.

Ms Brooker, who has raised a child with autism, first started the Mackay Autism Support Group about two decades ago and since then the group's gone from strength to strength.

"I'm thrilled it's gone so well today. I guess this one's particularly special for me, as I'm semi-retiring this year," she said.

"People who come along love they can get a workshop on this sort of thing, in the format it is. They can chat one-on-one with service providers and we've even got a lawyer here today.

"There's probably not too many people on the spectrum themselves who come, but we do have the question and answer segment and that's so wonderful for parents with younger children.

"It shows what life can be like for adults on the spectrum. …

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