A BICESTER mum is raising awareness about an ‘invisible disability’ that affects her son and others close to her.

Donna Randall will join hundreds of people across the UK and Ireland by walking 10,000 steps a day for eight days to raise funds for autistic people and their families as part of the fourth annual Walk for Autism campaign.

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Ms Randall, who works at Southwold School in Bicester, is taking part in the challenge because her 12-year-old son Casey was diagnosed with the disability last year.

She said she did not know much about autism before, but is now learning about the challenges autistic people experience daily.

The 53-year-old said: “Autism is something very close to my heart, my son was recently diagnosed and there are many children I know with autism in my personal life and also at the school I work at.

“I didn’t know much about autism before and I’m sure many others are the same, but it’s part of our lives now and we need people to be more understanding and accept these children and adults for who they are.

“Many people on the autism spectrum go on to achieve great things. I just think it’s time to raise awareness about it. It’s just one invisible disability.”

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Autism affects more than 700,000 people in the UK and Ireland. The disability is a spectrum meaning some autistic people need little or no support while others may need help from a parent or carer every day.

Autistic people may find it hard to communicate and interact with others; find it hard to understand how other people think or feel; find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable; get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events; take longer to understand information; do or think the same things over and over.

Ms Randall described some of the things that her son finds difficult to do on a daily basis.

She said: “We struggle with every day tasks. Getting ready for school is always a challenge and things we take for granted like brushing teeth or hair can be a big deal to an autistic; they are very sensory. Everything from noise, touch, taste and crowds can make them anxious.

“Casey struggles a lot with being social and prefers to be at home. I was amazed he actually agreed to have his photo taken. The children at work all have their own struggles but we have an amazing inclusion team to help them called Autism is our Superpower.”

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Walk for Autism is a campaign led by charity Autism Initiatives Group. Ms Randall will start her walk on March 26 and finish on World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. For more information, go to walkforautism.co.uk.

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