Sally Tonkin from Bradford on Avon, UK, will be hiking the 24 highest Peaks in the Lake District to raise money and awareness for the National Autistic Society. Her six year old son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in August this year following a 3DI assessment. Although Sally states that ‘it has been a difficult and emotional journey’, she also feels that she has been well supported by the National Autistic Society (NAS) and her local branch in North Wiltshire. Sally told Autism Daily Newscast,
“The NAS North Wilts branch has been amazingly supportive and a brilliant source of information and sanity.”
She has also been well supported by both friends and family. Sally told us that she tries and meets up with a couple of very supportive autism mum friends at least once a week as well as offering each other support in their Facebook group.
“We are able to share our little one’s beautiful moments, bad days and sadly frustration at the endless battles against the system.”
Sally has also been working with her son’s school to set up a new information support group for parents who have children on the autistic spectrum. Sally explains her reason for this,
“Before diagnosis, for me there were some extremely sad and lonely moments in the playground when I felt shunned because of my child’s behaviour and differences from his peers. I really don’t want any other autism parent to stand alone because they think others think that they are a “bad parent”.
“My mum and dad have recently moved nearby to help out with child care and give me a little respite. My mum is a kind of magical household fairy. One day I came home and the pile of ironing that was truly taller than my 3 year old came back neatly ironed! My parents are amazing and I will be always grateful to them.”
Sally believed that she had to do something that would inspire all of her family and friends to help her raise money but more importantly awareness of the challenges faced by families who have children with ASD. She therefore decided to take on the challenge of hiking the 24 Peaks.
In August, in one weekend and over 24 hours Sally will walk this extremely demanding mountain range situated in the picturesque Lake District. Each mountain is over 2,400 feet and includes the highest peak in England.
“The 24 Peaks Challenge is one of the most demanding mountain walking events devised as a charity challenge. It’s a tough physical challenge set in a stunning location, the heart of the Lake District.” 24peaks.co.uk
Sally states on her Just Giving page
“My brilliant son has just been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome. I have become aware now of how much autism can affect people’s lives and their families and thought I’d do something crazy to raise awareness and some money to support the National Autistic Society. My son is fabulous but he does face some challenges: making and keeping friends, getting on at school, accepting changes of routine and Sensory issues (wearing pants which is always a good one to deal with!)”
Sally told Autism Daily Newscast her reasons for wearing ‘crazy hats’ during her weekly training sessions.
“Inspired by my son’s love of dressing up, I had the idea of asking friends, family and twitter followers to sponsor me to wear a #crazyhat during my weekly 24peaks training runs. Although I do feel slightly bonkers running along the canal in a cat mask, I have so far raised £87 just for the crazy hats. So far I have worn: ‘Cat in the Hat’ top hat, a Russian-style furry hat, a cat mask, bat mask and my favourite the furry “Ewok-head2 hat.”
Autism Daily Newscast asked Sally if she has any advice for parents of newly diagnosed children.
“Find a support group as there are some amazing and experienced parents out there who will help and support you. Read as much as you can about the condition and the Special Educational Needs system. Never give up and be prepared to fight for what you believe your child is entitled to. Finally enjoy the precious, beautiful moments that other parents may take for granted.”