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Long road ahead

Tuesday, 29th May, 2012

Aimy Thorne and her mother Valerie Newall are aiming to raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder with a walk from Broken Hill to Wellington. Aimy Thorne and her mother Valerie Newall are aiming to raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder with a walk from Broken Hill to Wellington.

By Emily Roberts

A woman and her mother will lead a group of 15 people who will soon embark on an 800 kilometres walk from Broken Hill to Wellington to raise awareness of autism.

Aimy Thorne’s seven-year-old son, Will, has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a disruption of the normal developmental processes that occurs in he first three years of life.

The Wellington woman and her mother, Valerie Newall, were in Broken Hill yesterday to promote their non-for-profit institution “Rural and Remote Autism Network” (RRAN).

The network was established to assist rural and remote families who care for a loved one with ASD.

“We are active in raising autism awareness and are undertaking a walk from Broken Hill to Wellington, a total of 804 kilometres in July,” Aimy told the BDT.

Aimy and the RRAN team of about 15 will leave Broken Hill on July 18.

“I am a nurse, and I knew of autism but I didn’t know the depth of it. (When I had my son) it was a big learning curve, it consumes all your life. But I am very passionate about it, which makes it easier.”

Aimy said sometimes people didn’t realise that her son isn’t like other children.

“We will be out and he might have a tantrum, I hear comments from people like, ‘He needs a good flogging’. I’m at the point now where I tell people he is autistic, some people then offer to help.

“It is about education.”

Aimy said local woman Stacey Evers, who also has a seven-year-old son who is autistic, had been helping the group.

“Will (my son) is a self-harmer, where Dylan is much more relaxed and routine. Both boys are very similar, they are verbal and bright - the spectrum ranges,” she said.

Aimy said her number one aim was to raise awareness. Her mother, Valerie said a lot of people in rural areas don’t know where to go to get help.

“There are that many people affected by it,” Valerie said.

Valerie said lots of people were eager to participate in the walk, like local Mayor Wincen Cuy, who will walk five kilometres with the RRAN team.

“We are aiming to walk 40 to 60 kilometres a day with people aged from 32 to 55. We have a good network of people coming with us.

“On the walk, we will be wearing red - it is Will’s favourite colour.”

Aimy’s son and daughter will be in Broken Hill to watch their mum and grandparents start the walk.

“Will gets excited about it and he is very involved. It is a family effort,” Aimy said.

She said anyone wanting to walk with the team can meet them in the different towns they will visit.

Lots of people have been donating goods to auction off to raise money and provide the team with supplies for their trip.

“Anything people can do to assist us along the way (would be a big help),” Valerie said.

“We’ve got 10 days from here to Cobar without stopping at any towns - so we will be taking our own supplies. We also brought old caravans to sleep in.”

For more information email rural.autism@yahoo.com.au or visit www.ruralautism.org or www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rural-and-Remote-Autism-Network-RRAN.

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