A Margate mum-of-three will be raising awareness and funds by joining the Walk for Autism 2022.
Abbie Small has a target of 10,000 steps a day to be walked between March 26 and April 2, raising funds for autism projects across the country.
Abbie, 28, says her motivation to take on the challenge comes from her eldest child George, 5, little sister Nicole, 9, and niece Summer,12, who are autistic.
Abbie said: “My eldest is autistic and we are looking to see what there is with my second child as well. My little sister and my niece are autistic and I just think there’s not really much out there about it, especially fundraising.
“When you get a diagnosis you are just left on your own to get on with it.
“People do not see autism as a disability, they think you just have a naughty kid. And lots of people think that autism is just this one thing when it is different for different people. My eldest does have meltdowns but it is more that he is very outgoing, he literally speaks to everyone, he has no understanding of stranger danger. He doesn’t see when people are being nasty to him or getting him to do things he shouldn’t, which does happen, because he just wants to make people happy.”
George was officially diagnosed when he was four although there was verbal confirmation prior to that but Abbie says there is a lack of support.
She said: “You get a call every so often to see how you are getting on but I was told I needed a referral for an education, health and care plan ( EHCP ) and we had to wait until George was five. And then I was told nothing can be done until he is 6. I’m told the school just has to learn how to deal with him and then I was told to get more help I had to do a sensory workshop. I did that but then was told to contact them again in 3 months in order to get help.
“They also think George has ADHD so gave medication to help him sleep but it just seems like you have to get on with it yourself.
“George is nearly six now and I’ve just learnt how to deal with it and learnt what works with him and what doesn’t but people don’t always understand and just think he is being a brat. They don’t understand autism is an actual thing and it isn’t that I have brought him up wrong.
“There are so many things that people fundraise for, like Cancer Research, and I am happy to do that too but you don’t see much for autism which is why I want to do this, raising money to help spread information.”
Abbie says she plans to take the children for the 10,000 steps each day, even though they are not keen on walking!
She said: “I’ll take the kids for walks and be pushing them to get them out and doing things.”
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.