A woman is calling for wider support after her autistic nephew was ‘at a point of refusing to leave the house’ following lockdown.
Helen Rennie, from Stockport, has said ‘more needs to be done’ in the wake of supporting autistic people. Her nephew, Louis, 18, who is on the autistic spectrum, ‘struggled’ outside of school ‘in a socialising aspect’ – and was hit hard after the pandemic.
“Louis struggled with his autism and there wasn’t focused support outside of school to meet like-minded people. Towards the end of lockdown, Louis was pretty much at the point of refusing to leave the house because this was simply too much for him,” she said.
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“There are many people on the autistic spectrum who do not have access to support, environments or experiences that enable them to develop both socially and professionally.”
Helen added: “Louis didn’t have that focused support. There should be wider support and access to these facilities now.”
After a period of struggle, Louis’s mum encouraged him to try out a youth club I AM Celebrating Autism. The charity, based in Stretford, works to provide support to a wide range of people, aged 10 years and upwards, who have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Condition (which can also be called Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder) as well as their families, guardians and carers in Greater Manchester.
“Louis previously was generally never ready to go out on time, however after attending the youth club a few times every week he is ready to go out to the youth club. He said to his mum ‘I just feel like I fit in when I go there. He’s made friends and it’s boosted his confidence massively,” the 37-year-old said.
“People travel from all over Manchester for the services I AM provides. It is one of the main charities in Manchester providing youth clubs and really giving that support so many people with autism need. More needs to be done to help.”
Helen, who works as a senior quantity surveyor, has decided to take on the huge challenge of GB Ultra’s ‘Race Across Scotland’ in a 215-mile foot race with a 100-hour cut-off point for I Am charity.
She said: “I am a keen ultra runner. I have previously run two 100 milers and a 3-day stage race totalling 135 miles. I’m doing this for I AM charity because they have supported my nephew in so many ways from settling him into college and getting him his first job. This is massive as only 22% of autistic adults are in some kind of paid employment.”
The race will begin on August 12 at 6am and follows the Southern Upland Way from Portpatrick on the West Coast to Cockburnspath on the East Coast. Through running across Scotland, Helen hoped to £2,000 (which she has surpassed) for I AM.
Helen said: “I am excited to take on this challenge. It won’t be easy, but that’s exactly why I entered. In taking on this challenge, I would love to raise AT LEAST my target in fundraising for I AM. So if you can spare just a couple of pounds it would be very much appreciated.”
Helen Boden, CEO at I AM, said: “We are very grateful that Helen is taking on such a fantastic challenge to help us continue to support autistic individuals and families in Manchester. It’s going to be a huge undertaking, but one we’re confident she can complete successfully.”
To donate to Helen’s run please see her JustGiving page here.