A LOCAL woman, whose 11-year-old son suffers from autism, will be scaling the heights of Ben Nevis later this month to raise money for Autism NI. Mother-of-two Patricia Byrne admits that she is no Olympian but would like to raise a pound for every meter that she climbs of Ben Nevis - all 1,344 of them.
Patricia's son Joshua was just three when he was first diagnosed with autism. As a baby he was unable to walk or talk and was happy just to sit and watch toys spin.
Her health visitor advised her to see the doctor who referred Joshua to a speech and physiotherapy specialist. He was later diagnosed with the condition at a specialist centre in Downpatrick.
Joshua now attends Parkview School, which he loves. Patricia got involved in the local branch of Autism NI and has been raising money for the group for many years.
Autism NI has given me so much support and help" she said. "When Joshua was first diagnosed I was just handed a leaflet and sort of told to go on my way. That was all the support or information I received. Autism NI fills this gap and provide information packs and a support network that is absolutely invaluable to families post diagnosis."
The group meets on the first Monday of every month at Trinity Methodist for a welcome cup of tea and a chat.
To reach the summit of Ben Nevis will be a true challenge for me as I'm no Olympian but I am determined to get there" Patricia said.
She hopes the climb will help not only to raise money but also awareness of the charity. She held a Wine and Nail party at her Derriaghy Road home recently and among those who attended were Karen Wishart, Ann McAvoy, Patricia Byrne, Carole Briggs, Sarah Muldoon, Shauna Bradley, Lesley Neill and Angela Mervyn.
Nail Technician Emma Beattie would not take any payment and donated her fee for the night which meant that Patricia raised a grand total of £291. She now plans a roller disco and a bun sale at her work at the bacterial laboratory department at the Royal Victoria Hospital to help her raise more money.
To donate you can visit Patricia's `Just Giving" page www.justgiving.com/trishab and to find out more about Autism or events in the Lisburn area you can contact Autism NI on. 9040 1729 or visit www.autismni.org.
Autism NI was formed in 1989 by a group of concerned parents and professionals, the charity seeks to ensure that people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and their carers have access to appropriate services, enabling people with Autism to become valued members of the community. The charity supports a network of 23 branches and local support groups across Northern Ireland and provides support, information and training for individuals with Autism and their families. Further news and information please visit www.autismni.org.