John Scott, CEO of Futurum has pledged his support for Autism Unseen, a new charity started by Amanda Riley. The charity was set up to create more awareness regarding autism at school level.
John, his son Jonny (who is on the autistic spectrum) and our electrician Dan will be taking part in the Kilimanjaro Challenge in August 2017 and will be giving the charity our full support in the meantime. We will be looking at other ways of raising funds for the charity over the next year and seeking others ways to provide support.
The Kilimanjaro Challenge
The Kilimanjaro Challenege taking place in August 2017, is the first of its kind, three years in the planning, and a life changing experience for 12 autistic individuals. Not only will this challenge promote awareness surrounding autism, it will also build confidence and skill sets within each of these individuals, providing them with a unique opportunity to be part of an adventure, which they will never forget.
At nearly 20,000 feet, climbing Kilimanjaro, the largest freestanding mountain in the world, situated in Eastern Africa, is no push over. Serious consideration needed to be given with regard the logistics of this challenge, with autistic individuals, carers and a team of background support staff both in the UK and Africa, all needing to be involved in order to make this event possible.
I set up Autism Unseen a number of years ago to create more awareness regarding autism at school level. My son, who is severely autistic, had been placed in a mainstream school where he was bullied relentlessly, he had no friends and experienced totally different levels of understanding with regard his condition at teacher level. Many parents with autistic children will agree, that often the fall-out surrounding this treatment during the school day does not happen within the school, it is bottled up by the child and brought home. Parents then have to deal with their autistic child going into total meltdown; in our case this resulted in self-harm, low self-esteem and violence that often went on for hours. The home and not the school becomes the safety valve, where the child can take out the frustration of being different and ostracised by other children.
I believed a better understanding was needed both by teachers and pupils with regard how to address this disability. Children can be scared to approach or befriend an autistic individual, it is stepping into the unknown for them and it is generally much easier to be friends with non-autistic children. If ever you visit a secondary school you can generally spot the child with autism, it is the one wandering around the playground during breaks, totally on their own, no one to chat too, no one to kick a ball with or play with. It is a distressing sight for any parent and is a problem within society that needs to be challenged and addressed.
So Autism Unseen was born, originating in North Lincolnshire, with a board of trustees from around the country, we became a not-for-profit organisation with a plan to become a national charity that will create more awareness with regard what it is like to be autistic. We are currently in the process of registering to become a recognised charity; this will allow us to seek additional Government and European funding and to receive public donations.
My son is now 22, we managed to find a place at a ‘Special School’ where he finished his secondary education and he has now progressed to college, where for 5 years, he has studied an almost identical subject every year based around ‘life-skills’. The problems still persist for my son, lack of friends, social exclusion, and bullying. He is on the treadmill of life, but going nowhere, shunned by a society that just does not understand. What future and what ambition is open to these young adults, my son wants to follow his brother into University, but entry levels are all academic based, so why can a course not be developed that will allow autistic individuals to be a student, live a student life, and be part of a student community.
Our mission objectives at Autism Unseen are ever expanding, we receive incredible support from everyone we speak to, it seems that everyone in the country knows someone with autism. We have a number of employers asking us for advice on the employment of young adults with autism, however national statistics show that only 15% of autistic adults are in full-time employment, so the situation surrounding employment needs to be tackled. Young autistic adults can be an asset to any company; they are generally hard working, often very focused and fun to be around. Employers need to be made aware that autistic individuals are more than capable of working for a living and 79% of autistic individuals on Incapacity Benefit say they want to work.
If you feel that you can help expand our charity, and help to make a difference, then we would love to hear from you. We are looking for fundraisers throughout the country, we welcome ideas for raising money and we need people on the ground, the length and breadth of the UK, to bang our drum and to shout out our mission statements. With your help we can make a difference and between us we can grow this into a truly national organisation.
We will be publishing more on our support for Autism Unseen – To pledge your support and get involved please get in touch with us or Autism Unseen. You can make a pledge at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/futurumautismunseen