People with autism, their families and support networks, and those who work with them came together at an event in North Tyneside.

The North Tyneside Autism Awareness Event, which took place on Wednesday 12 September at Tyne Metropolitan College, which is part of Tyne Coast College, was held to raise awareness of autism, to share personal experiences, learn about current services available and consider how improvements could be made across the borough.

The theme was transition through life – how starting school, through to childhood and into adulthood, and from education into employment, can be difficult for anyone but it can be so much harder to manage if you have autism.

A powerful film, entitled ‘The Life of Reilly’, was introduced by Christine Stephenson whose son was the inspiration.

She shared her experiences as a mother of an autistic child and this set the scene for the day.

The event was a collaboration between various people including Pat Higgins, a local community volunteer, Amanda Boyce from Families 1st 4 Additional Needs, and North Tyneside Council.

It was opened by North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE.

She said: “I was delighted to attend this event, which was a great way of raising awareness and understanding about autism to a wider audience.

“People with autism face many challenges throughout the various stages of their lives and it is important that everyone appreciates this and is sensitive to it.

“I was also very impressed by the personal experiences that were shared at the event and it was fantastic to see so many people come together to support such a worthwhile cause.”

It is hoped that the event can be a catalyst for further work to improving networks, sharing information and moving forward in terms of support.