Video: Cookstown teenager with Asperger’s shines a light on Autism

  • Mid Ulster Autism Event is being held on Thursday, April 16, 2.00-6.00pm in Burnavon
  • Event is co-organised by Gort Kids Afterschool club and Team Aspie
  • Families will be invited to share their experiences of Autism
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Like so many other mothers of an autistic child, Tracy Collings knew that her son Richard was different from an early age, ‘he spoke like a little professor’.

Just five years on from his diagnosis, her son Richard is now using his exceptional communication skills to offer help to countless other children who are left isolated by the complex condition.

On Thursday [April 16, 2-6pm], the group which Richard started Team Aspie [short for Asperger’s] will host a major information day in the Burnavon for anyone living with a form of Autism.

Started in June last year, Team Aspie has spiralled from just four members to over 25, coming from all over the country.

But the 13-year-old from Cookstown, who is a pupil at Sperrin Integrated, believes there are many, many more children who could benefit from being part of ‘the Team’.

“Asperger’s is just one type of autism, and every person who has it, has different aspects to their condition and how it affects them.

Richard Collins, 13 with his mother Tracy

Richard Collins, 13 with his mother Tracy

“But the one thing that is almost always the same, is that they are isolated, because they are different from other children,” he said. “When I started Team Aspie - it was an idea from Carol Doey at the Hub - it was brilliant for me and also for all the other the young people who have joined.

“You feel stronger as team, and that’s why we want as many young people to know about us, and we can share the help and advice that is available out there.”

Tracy adds: “ It is also brilliant for the parents, who feel isolated in some ways, they maybe do not know how to deal with the condition.

“We also want to see as many schools coming along as possible, we will have all the relevant agencies there to offer the support and advice covering the Autism spectrum.”

You feel stronger as team, and that’s why we want as many young people to know about us.

Gort Kids and Vera McElhone are also helping to organise the event.

Richard Collins, 13 with his mother Tracy

Richard Collins, 13 with his mother Tracy