Letter of the week: where was the help?

As April is Autism Awareness month, I would like to highlight some of the challenges we autism parents experience and ask for fellow people of Rugby to help bring us understanding and assistance, when necessary.

An incident occurred in the town a couple of months ago, involving our Rugby autism family.

A boy with autism had a meltdown in the shopping area.

The mum, her son and daughter got no assistance from town shop staff, who stood and stared.

Rugby Rangers, who joined a crowd of onlookers, instead of moving them on and appeared to have no idea of how to help, given the situation.

Abuse was shouted at the mum by members of the public, when she needed to restrain her son for his own safety.

Her daughter was obviously upset, but again no help was given. As Rugby now has a ‘Safe Place’ initiative to provide safe havens within the town to those with disabilities, should the need arise, I’m surprised to find that it appears that the Rugby Rangers have had no training on assisting those with autism.

If the shop in question is a registered ‘safe haven’, I would also be worried to think that its staff are not able to be able to help someone with autism. Like many with autism, my son is prone to having meltdowns or shutdowns if he has a sensory overload, among other triggers.

Too much sensory input from the environment around him, such as bright lights, loud noises and strong smells, overload his brain and he does not have time to process them all.

This leaves him frustrated and unable to cope. Autism often gives difficulties in communicating with others, so telling someone that the environment is over-stimulating can be difficult or even impossible. The kicking, screaming, running away crying or shouting done by someone having a meltdown can appear to be a tantrum or bad behaviour. It isn’t. It is frustration and a cry for help. A little understanding of this goes a long way . We very much appreciate every effort made by the people of Rugby to understand what our families cope with day in, day out. If you would like to join our Rugby autism family, please contact me through www.facebook.com/rugbyautismnetwork

Fay McSorley

Rugby Autism Network