AN AUTISM campaigner from Bearsden has taken his fight for better provisions to Holyrood.
Jordon Kirkwood, from Hillfoot, joined One Foot in the Grave actor Richard Wilson OBE on the steps of the Scottish Parliament to back the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland, as it publishes its Count Us In: It Pays To Listen report.
The 22 was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was nine and joined NAS supporters accompanying Wilson - who became the leading autism charity’s ambassador last summer - when they delivered the report to Mark MacDonald MSP.
Count Us In is a call to action for the Scottish Government to build on it commitment to people with autism and their families by giving them a say in the decisions that affect them.
Jordon is among the estimated 50,000 Scots with autism and it is reckoned nearly 450 of these are thought to live in Milngavie and Bearsden.
As a member of the NAS Scotland’s Adult Social Groups in Glasgow, Jordon said: “I’m quite lucky. Support like Social Groups is not widespread. Many people with autism are caught in a postcode lottery with some areas of the country providing no support at all.
“I would love to see more opportunities like Social Groups across Scotland, so that more people with autism can really get the most out of life.”
He said a lot of people with autism want to be out more and would love to be enjoying the kind of social opportunities most people take for granted.
Jordon added: “But they can be nervous of the reaction they might get from the public. Many people don’t know what autism is and can think you’re behaving a bit oddly.
“Sometimes you can get looks and comments, when really you’re just doing your best to communicate and understand the world around you.”
People with autism find this stressful, says Jordon, and tend to avoid social contact altogether which often makes matters worse, leading to loneliness, isolation and depression.
The Count Us In report is encouraging local authorities across Scotland to invest in specific services that help address the social exclusion often experienced by people with autism.
For more information of NAS go to www.autism.org.uk or for help in your area phone 0808 800 4104 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday (free from landlines and most mobiles).
CAMPAIGNERS . . . Jordon Kirkwood (right) with actor Richard Wilson and MSP Mark MacDonald on the steps of Holyrood with the autism report.