Nurse raising awareness during autism week

A staff nurse at Scunthorpe hospital, whose son has autism, is raising awareness of the condition during a national week.

This week marks World Autism Awareness Week (April 1 to April 7) and includes World Autism Awareness Day which takes place today.

Charlotte Wattam with the display board she created for World Autism Awareness Week.

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people communicate and interact with others.

Charlotte Wattam, who works on children’s outpatients, has created a special display in the waiting area of the department with information and support about the condition.

She also purchased an official tee-shirt which she is wearing during the week.

Charlotte, whose son Finn was diagnosed with high-functioning autism when he was three-years-old, said: “We have many children with autism and other special educational needs coming through the children’s outpatients department. I feel it is particularly important to raise awareness of ways in which we can support children and young people with autism.

“As my son is autistic this week is particularly dear to my heart and I am passionate about creating a supportive environment for any individual who has difficulties.”

Charlotte said the idea of creating the board was to cover things that she has experienced as a parent of a child with autism.

She said: “I just want to help other people that are in a similar position.”

Her son Finn is now 12 and attends a mainstream school in Scunthorpe, which Charlotte said has been “really inclusive”.

Charlotte said her son struggles with making direct eye contact when people are speaking to him and often looks around the room.

She said: “He does not mean to be ignorant or rude. He has communication difficulties.”

Charlotte said she feels like the awareness surrounding autism is being more and more acknowledged and more understood.

She added: “When you are first told your child has autism, it is terrifying. Not everyone is aware of the condition and not everyone is able to access help.”

For more information on World Autism Awareness Week, visit https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/world-autism-awareness-week.aspx

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