Autism awareness resources needed in Labrador, family says
A mother with three autistic children in Happy Valley-Goose Bay says more resources for autism awareness are sorely needed in Labrador.
Mary Byrne says her three sons all have different forms of autism, and she's struggled for years to figure out how to deal with it on her own.
"People think autism and they think one specific thing, and it's not. Even our family, when my kids were diagnosed, they were like 'No, they're not, that's not autism, the boy down the street has autism and they don't have that,'" said Byrne.
Byrne said the family's pediatrician confirmed her eldest son Liam likely falls on the spectrum, but unlike his brothers, he hasn't been diagnosed yet.
He has been on a waiting list for an official diagnosis for over a year.
Byrne said with the autism diagnosis team located on the island, along with autism support groups, people in Labrador are forced to find their own way.
She said no parent should be forced to navigate their own way through this kind of situation.
"It's taken us three years to figure all of this out. It's a lot of stress and strain, and without proper support, it's very, very difficult," she said.
"I think parents need to be made aware of the different therapy options, including diet, and they need to have someone in the medical system who can explain all of that to them," she said.
Noah Byrne, 11, said he thinks it would be helpful for people his own age to learn more about autism.
"We don't normally learn about autism in class, but I think we should learn autism in class and we should have an Autism Awareness Centre," he said.
Byrne said government needs to step up the resources available to people in smaller communities, so parents aren't left to handle so much on their own.
With files from Kate Adach