We Can! Major campaign launched to pay tribute to people with autism

A major campaign has been launched to raise awareness of autism and the challenges it brings for families.

This is national Autism Awareness Week and we have joined forces with the region’s leading autism charity.

We will be working with the North East Autism Society to “celebrate autism in the North East”.

We’ll be going behind the scenes with one family all week who will share their highlights and challenges and hopes for the future.

And using our #weCAN hashtag, we want you to get in on the action.

We’d love you to send us your best photos celebrating your friends and loved ones who have autism.

WeCan – which stands for ‘we celebrate autism in the North East’ – can be a chance to not only pay tribute to the incredible people in your life but will also be an opportunity to speak about autism in a positive light.

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Kerrie Highcock, family development manager for the North East Autism Society, said: “I work with dozens of families across the region and I always have the same thought – ‘I wish everyone could see how amazing these people are’.

“It’s also been part of my job in recent years to offer autism awareness training to businesses and I can honestly say the North East has got to be one of the most autism-friendly places in the UK. There are so many great things happening.”

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition thought to affect 1 in 100 people in the UK.

Dr Helen Leonard, paediatric neurodevelopment specialist at the Great North Children’s Hospital, said: “The way I explain autism to new families coming to me is that autism makes the brain function in a different way. People with autism learn and understand the world in a different way.”

One family who knows more about this than most are the Roses.

Michelle and Kieran Rose Michelle and Kieran Rose (Image: North East Autism Society)

The family of five, from Consett, are giving us no-holds-barred access this week in order to truly raise awareness of autism and neurodiversity.

Mum-of-three Michelle, 39, said: “Our eldest son, Quinn, is autistic. My husband Kieran has also been diagnosed and we are in the process of finding out whether our five-year-old daughter Livvy will also receive a diagnosis.

“It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon of whingeing about the challenges we face but autism for us is something we choose to celebrate.

“This ‘reality TV’ look at our lives this week is a little bit daunting – we’re excited to be part of something so positive.”

Left to right - Quinn, Livvy and Albie Rose Left to right – Quinn, Livvy and Albie Rose (Image: North East Autism Society)

Join us tomorrow as we go ‘out and about’ with the Roses. We’ll share our updated list of autism-friendly places to visit in the North East and have top tips for families tackling travel.

Send your #weCAN pics and snaps of you and your family out and about at autism-friendly places in our region to ec.news@ncjmedia.co.uk