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Bunbury to host first regional autism expo

Chloerissa EadieSouth Western Times
Gemma Foxall, with daughter Willow, 5 months and Liz Martin, with her two sons Kai, 7 and Micah, 4 are gearing up for the second Regional Autism Intervention expo in April which they are seeking funding for. The expo will showcase service providers in the State and is expected to be double the size of last year.
Camera IconGemma Foxall, with daughter Willow, 5 months and Liz Martin, with her two sons Kai, 7 and Micah, 4 are gearing up for the second Regional Autism Intervention expo in April which they are seeking funding for. The expo will showcase service providers in the State and is expected to be double the size of last year. Credit: South Western Times, Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

The first regional autism expo in Australia is being organised by a pair of dynamic Bunbury mums who have autistic children and a passion for more services to be brought to the South West.

The free event will only be possible though if they meet their fundraising goal of $20,000 in the next month.

Gemma Foxall and Liz Martin launched the Regional Autism Intervention Network in 2015 after navigating services, or lack of in the South West, for their children.

This is the second expo they have organised and last year’s was so successful it has more than doubled in size, which has necessitated a move to the South West Sports Centre, where around 100 stall holders from around the State will be on display.

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The pair both have education backgrounds which they say has been invaluable, but not everyone who has an autistic child has the experience to locate the necessary services.

Ms Martin said when her sons were diagnosed she cried for weeks and had to come to terms with how she could help them.

“It is an overwhelming time and knowing what services are available is really important,” she said.

“The expo is a chance to collaborate and find out what is available by having all the service providers in one place.

“Services don’t come to you unless they know there is a need, so the expo is about promoting the needs of the community.”

Ms Foxall said psychologists, allied health professionals and any organisations which provided a service were invited.

This year there will be break-out rooms for one-on-one discussions and keynote speakers from industry professionals, she said.

“It is a chance to see what is out there, because what works for one child doesn’t work for another,” she said.

“When you have a child who has just been diagnosed you don’t have the time to call every support agency or service out there to see if they can help you and we want to make this process a little bit easier because we know how hard it can be.”

The expo is scheduled for April 1 to help make the event possible visit www.gofundme.com/regional-autism-expo-australia

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