Understanding autism is first step

Tyler (6) and Alisa Haworth outside the Party People shop which is helping to promote Autism awareness.
Tyler (6) and Alisa Haworth outside the Party People shop which is helping to promote Autism awareness.

A mother from Clitheroe has enlisted the help of more than 20 local businesses in an attempt to raise awareness about autism – a condition that her six-year-old son suffers from.

Alisa Haworth (45), of Radeclyffe Street, has called on local shopkeepers to Light It Up Blue in support of a global initiative for Autism Awareness Month.

The shopkeepers have all been displaying posters about autism, while Castlegate business Party People has dedicated its window display to the cause, displaying blue balloons and posters. Style Diva on Wellgate, Clitheroe, has also decorated its front window with a blue theme.

The whole month of April is Autism Awareness Month and through the initiative Alisa is hoping to make more people aware of how the condition affects sufferers and their families.

Alisa’s son, Tyler Duffy, used to be a pupil at St James’ Primary School in Clitheroe, but now attends White Ash special needs school at Oswaldtwistle.

Single mum Alisa, who also has an older son Connor (15), told the Clitheroe Advertiser people often misunderstand Tyler’s condition and presume he is just “naughty”.

Routine visits to the supermarket, which are part and parcel of weekly life for the majority of people, can prove extremely stressful for a child with autism. And Alisa explained that sometimes people’s reactions to how Tyler acted in that situation was at best ignorant, and at worst unkind.

“I want to raise more awareness about this condition,” Alisa explained. “Children with autism are not naughty children they just don’t have the same social skills as us.

“When a child with autism is in a supermarket it’s a combination of lots of different senses, colours, noises and they don’t filter them and take in what they need. This means their minds are bombarded with all these things so it’s absolute chaos and that’s when the tantrums start.”

Around 700,000 people in the UK have autism. Together with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are touched by autism every single day.

Alisa hopes that next year Clitheroe Castle will be lit up blue to help raise awareness event like many other iconic landmarks across the world.

Tyler (6) and his mum Alisa Haworth outside the Party People shop, which is helping to promote Autism awareness.