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World Autism Day – 2nd April 2020: By our Ambassador Paula McGowan

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Autistic people inspire me every single day. Through social media, I hear about the inequalities that autistic people face day in and day out and yet so many rise above this and achieve great things.

Take a look at Greta Thunberg, a young autistic teenager who is an environmental activist who has gained International recognition for promoting awareness about climate change.

Greta has faced many personal challenges; she is not only autistic, but also has obsessive compulsive disorder, selective mutism and also depression.

My own son Oliver was autistic; he also had epilepsy, cerebral palsy a mild learning disability and anxiety. Yet he went on to play football for England FA development football squads, he was training to become a Paralympian and was ranked third best in the country for 200 metres track. Yet Oliver like so many autistic children found the social challenges of school and college very difficult.

These teenagers not only have autism in common, but they also have determination, a steely tenacity to succeed, a focus that cannot be swayed. I look on these qualities with deep admiration.

 From my work as an activist working to ensure that all autistic and learning disabled people receive equal health care as everybody else, I see and hear about the amazing things autistic people and their families are doing and as a result of this,  I truly believe that the World is starting to accept and understand autism like never before.

In November 2019 Government announced that every person who works for NHS and Social Care will receive The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Autism and Learning Disability Awareness.

This is an enormous milestone and I believe to be the beginning of real change. The training will not only educate but challenge sub conscious bias and prejudices.

2020 is proving to be a very challenging year for all of us. We are all anxious about the Corona Virus. I know that most autistic people will be worrying about this a lot and it can be very difficult to divert our minds away from it.

What I try to do is

I would like to wish you all a fantastic World Autism Awareness Day and I am excited to hear about what you have been doing throughout the year. https://www.olivermcgowan.org/ 

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About Paula McGowan

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Paula McGowan grew up in Liverpool and is married to Tom McGowan who is a Senior Officer in the Air Force. Paula is an early year’s teacher and specialises in children who have autism and other additional needs.

Following the untimely death of her youngest child Oliver, Paula has dedicated her life to campaigning for equal health care for people who have autism and Learning Disabilities.

Paula has successfully had a petition debated in parliament asking for Doctors, Nurses and allied Health Professionals to receive mandatory face to face training in autism and intellectual disability. This training will be known as The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training is currently being developed by NHSE with continued involvement from Paula.

Paula has recently moved to Australia with her husband but her campaigning continues to go from strength to strength. She continues to travel back to the UK to speak at conferences, medical schools and hospital trusts.

Follow Paula on Twitter: @PaulaMc007

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