Handling parental concerns
A smile lights up Lilly Lowe’s face as her pet dog and best friend Lexie gives her a small lick.
The six year old is full of life. She loves dressing up as a princess, eating ice-cream and her favourite colour is pink; like most girls her age.
The only difference is that Lilly has autism – a disorder that has affected both her and her family severely.
Her mother Karen Condell and father Paul Lowe agreed that when your child had a disability the most important thing to have was a support network.
This mainly comes from Hamilton because Matamata has not had any professional autism support groups before.
But, Altogether Autism, a national information and advisory service for people with autism spectrum disorder, their families and wider community, will hold a meeting in Matamata for the first time.
On Friday, March 11, families who have an autistic child or are interested in finding out about ASD are welcome.
The meeting is an opportunity to find out more about the Altogether Autism service, discuss the issues and gaps in services in Matamata, network with others and raise awareness of autism.
Ms Condell said it was often hard to meet other families with autistic children because autistic people did not like going out very often and being in unfamiliar situations.
‘‘It is so good to see something come to Matamata. Having them here is our chance to voice concerns and express what we need help for,’’ Ms Condell said.
‘‘It can be very isolating for families with disabled children, so this is good.
‘‘Autism socially changes what you [the family] can do.
‘‘Lilly always likes to just stay home and you can’t take her many places or leave her with