Wigan mum to take on 10,000 steps a day challenge for autistic son

A Wigan mum plans to make great strides to raise awareness of autism after her three-year-old son was diagnosed with the condition.

Gillian Aldred, from Standish, is set to build up cash for Walk for Autism through walking 10,000 steps every day for eight days straight.

Her son Sebastian was diagnosed with non-verbal autism and sensory issues last year.

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And Gillian has told of her worries of how Sebastian would cope with the lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

Gillian and Sebastian AldredGillian and Sebastian Aldred
Gillian and Sebastian Aldred

The mother-of-four said she first realised something was wrong when Sebastian was 17 months old.

Gillian, 46, said: “Sebastian started to have speech problems and he’d just make noises.

“When I went to a play area with him, he’d become overwhelmed and distressed. So he was referred to a consultant and he was diagnosed late last year.”

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As many as one in 100 people is on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children living in the UK.

Gillian says she will now use her own experiences of the condition to give something back and raise much-needed funds to support autistic people in Wigan and across the UK.

This year’s Walk for Autism will be a virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which means participants can do it at their own pace, in their own time, and there are no organised walks to attend.

Gillian, who works as a housekeeper in a hotel, said: “When Sebastian got this diagnosis, it was a daunting time for us.

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“It’s not that we feared the diagnosis of autism so much itself but we feared more about how the world would treat him.

“We have a lot of worries and concerns: will he ever talk? Will he ever be able to fully understand?

“Will he have friends? Will he be bullied? What will happen to him when we are no longer around? The list goes on.

“So I have decided to take part in the Walk for Autism to help raise awareness and much needed funds.

She added: “Our boy is happy and very much loved.

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“If there’s one thing that autism has taught me is that love needs no words.”

The walk will take place between March 26 and April 2 – and readers can donate through Gillian’s official fund-raising page which is on the Walk For Autism website.

For more information on Walk for Autism, visit their website or Facebook.

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