Creuse autism charity's €1,000 Jardins Ouvert gift

A cooking workshop for children with autism proved popular

A campaign to help people with autism enjoy a better quality of life has received a €1,000 boost from the annual Open Gardens (Jardins Ouverts) charity event.

Réseau Bulle 23 was one of the associations supported by Open Gardens, where private gardens are opened to the public to raise money for charity.

Families are helped by Réseau Bulle 23, which creates opportunities to meet up, put on workshops, create events and conferences, and campaign for better understanding of the condition.

President Marie-Christine Schulz, who is a full-time volunteer working for those who have autism in Creuse, said: “So far, 308 families and 87 adults have become members, though official figures suggest there are 1,200 with the condition in our department.

“Our association helps those with autism and associated conditions, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and epilepsy. Once a month, families can meet up at a café in a different part of the Creuse.

“I have weekly meetings with official bodies, such as the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales), schools or local authorities to explain our needs.

“I also hold workshops designed to improve motor and sensory skills, which are open to everyone, with autism or not, to increase better acceptance.

“Last year, money from Open Gardens went towards paying someone to host a drone workshop where the participants learned to manipulate drones and make up a video with the photos they took.”

This year, some of the money will go towards paying speakers at conferences she is organising.

Mrs Schulz has a 16-year old daughter who is autistic and believes more training is needed in schools so they understand what it means to have autism or associated troubles.

“The best way I can describe the problems for those with autism is to say they feel they live on another planet and have to learn to live on ours.

“I had to learn to speak my daughter’s ‘language’ to communicate with her.”

A national education strategy for 2018-22 aims for every department to have one teacher trained in autism and Mrs Schulz says there is already one in her daughter’s school: “This is real progress after autism has been neglected for such a long time.”

Réseau Bulle 23 welcomes new members. Mrs Schulz can be contacted on 09 66 93 50 37, antenne23@reseaubulle.fr

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