YOUNG people with autism spoke out to mark an awareness-raising day.
Students from Education and Services for People with Autism (Espa) teamed up with Sunderland City College to hold a day of talks and activities.
Six young people, aged from 16 to 25, took to the stage at the college’s Bede Campus ahead of today’s World Autism Day, which is now in its seventh year.
Julie Burns, co-ordinator of Espa’s Training and Awareness group, helped set up the first-ever event at the college, which saw students raising money for autism charities.
She said: “The aim today is to raise awareness and understanding of autism, but also to celebrate the skills and abilities of people with autism.
“This is a very challenging thing to do, public speaking, so we are challenging them a lot just to be here.”
Students from Sunderland and Newcastle colleges also dropped into the presentations, along with representatives from Sainsbury’s in Silksworth, where Espa’s young people and staff will be speaking to shoppers today.
Kevin Lynch, disability lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “This is the first time that the college has held an event for World Autism Day and I’m thrilled it is doing all it can to support such a worthwhile charity.
“It has been such a valuable day and I’m pleased to say it will now be embedded in our equality and diversity calendar for future events.
“Our role at the college is to promote disability and the event offered students a great opportunity to educate others and raise awareness of the challenges of living with the disorder.”