Support for autism petition

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The Chairperson of the Lisburn branch of Autism NI, Claire Hughes, has given her support to a petition to secure special sessions at Lisburn Leisureplex for children with autism.

The petition was launched last month by Lisburn mother Tracy Mearns, who said she was disappointed when it was not well received by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

Hundreds of people signed the petition and Ayrshire council , on learning of the petition has been inspired to look into introducing special sessions in their local leisure centre.

Claire Hughes, who has chaired the local branch of the Autism charity for many years, said she was “grateful” for Tracy’s efforts.

“The petition recently initiated by a local mum and which instigated an ‘autism pool row’ asked for three improvements to leisure services, that might alleviate some of the stresses experienced by individuals with autism and their parents and families and which would widen access to Leisure activities,” said Claire.

“However her effort and suggestions were not given the consideration and respect they were due.

“I have listened to the audio of the council meeting and heard councillors deride this mother and her numerous co signatories for not understanding what we were signing; how patronising. Online petitions are now the most common modern means of communication and lobbying.

“All but a few of the councillors who spoke, left a mother upset and who the next morning updated her petition saying she had sobbed in her bed. Shame on those who belittled her to that extent.

“I wish this mother well in her forthcoming meeting with Leisure Services staff, whom I’m sure will treat her with courtesy and respect, not afforded her by some councillors.

“I am grateful to her for her insight and work on behalf of our precious loved ones who live with Autism. As for her ideas being considered for implementation, I look forward to this as it is quite simply the right thing to do.”