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School shines spotlight on autism

Kathryn Gourley, centre, from Columbia Grange School, Washington, at a parents' coffee morning on World Autism Awareness day with Laura Simons and Sara Berry, right.

Kathryn Gourley, centre, from Columbia Grange School, Washington, at a parents' coffee morning on World Autism Awareness day with Laura Simons and Sara Berry, right.

A SCHOOL is shining the spotlight on autism ahead of a day intended to raise international awareness of the condition.

Columbia Grange School in Washington has organised a string of events to mark World Autism Awareness Day tomorrow.

The co-educational school, catering for youngsters with severe learning disabilities, held a coffee morning for parents yesterday, and all money raised will be donated to the school.

Headteacher Katherine Elliott said: “Autism is not a condition where you can tell something is wrong with the person just by looking at them. It is very misunderstood.

“All the children are so bespoke, so individual, so what happens to one may not happen to another.”

People with autism show signs of the condition from an early age and have difficulties communicating and forming relationships.

The Oxclose Road school is aiming to show how those with autism can still mix in society despite their differences.

The school is holding a onesie day tomorrow, and pupils and staff will be visiting the Starbucks coffee shop in Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre, from 1pm.

Sara Berry, 33, of South Hylton, whose son Jack, seven, attends the school, is supporting its efforts to raise awareness.

“Jack has come on loads since he went there,” she said. “When he was three or four, he couldn’t talk, so he has come a long way.

“For me, I would say that, yes, Jack has autism, but look at how much I have got from him. I’m proud of him.”

“The support from the school is great. They have really helped Jack.”

 

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