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Brotherly love drives awareness campaign

A simple suggestion from a Blaxland boy keen to help his younger brother has snowballed into a full blown campaign for autism awareness stretching across Sydney and beyond.

Dylan Forster has always looked out for his six-year-old autistic brother, so it was no surprise when he came up with the idea to sell wristbands at Blaxland Public School to raise awareness and money for the condition.

With support from his school that initial thought has grown into a two-week series of events and expressions of interest in similar campaigns at eight Sydney schools and one as far as Albury.

The spark for the campaigns occurred when Dylan, 10, came across a bunch of the wristbands in the glovebox.

“I had an idea that I could sell them at school to make a fund-raiser because my brother is autistic. There are a few people that I’ve seen that had autism and I thought I should be able to help . . . so I thought maybe I could help out with a fund-raiser,” said Dylan.

The two weeks of autism awareness activities that began at the school on Monday have been timed to coincide with International Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which students will mark with a mufti day.

Dylan’s mum Michelle — who is vice president of the Autism and Aspergers Support Group (AASG) — will also speak at an assembly to help the kids gain a better understanding of autism and its effects.

“Opening people’s eyes is the name of the game really,” said Michelle.

She could not be prouder of Dylan, not only for the fund-raising campaign, but the way he has helped his brother throughout his life.

“He is very accommodating . . . There’s lots of times where if his brother has certain expectations around how things might go, and if there’s a sudden change in routine he just gets really thrown out, and Dylan’s very quick to say, ‘Well I won’t get my own way if that’ll make him calm down’,” she said. “By the same token we’re doing as best we can to make sure that Dylan’s needs are met.”

Fund-raising and awareness packs are available from AASG for any school or community groups wanting to get involved in Autism Awareness Month throughout April. AASG is also holding a seminar at the Richmond Club on April 26-27 featuring Professor Tony Attwood. For more information contact info@autismsupport.org.au or visit www.autismsupport.org.au.

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