Need to educate on autism, say parents of youngster Shira

MIRIAM and Gary Wernick knew there may have been an issue with their daughter, Shira, when she was three.

The couple were called in by concerned Manchester King David Private Nursery staff, who told them that she was not socialising with other children.

Five years later, in 2017, Shira was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

And, having searched the different types of therapies available, Miriam and Gary, of Prestwich, Manchester, came across a charity called Autism Angels.

Based in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, it runs courses which uses equine therapy.

Miriam said: “The founder, Sara Shearman, is an incredible person.

“When we told her that we would love to attend her weekend courses, but that Saturdays were not on for us, she said she could tailor courses for our Jewish and kosher needs.”

The only problem is, however, that the charity would need another five families to make it viable.

Miriam, who is also mum to eight-year-old Samantha, explained: “We found out about Sara, wrote to her and we went to see her.

“The participants groom the animals and take them out for walks.”

Shira was born premature — at 28 weeks — and, at 20 months, developed breathing difficulties.

Despite staff at her nursery contacting her parents, Shira still met all its development targets.

Miriam and Gary were referred to see a specialist at Bury’s Fairfield Hospital by staff at KD Primary School, where Shira is now a Year Four pupil.

“That is when we received the official diagnosis,” Miriam said. “For every three boys diagnosed with autism, only one in four girls are.

“Without being prejudiced, girls tend to copy other girls and blend in more than boys.

“There is a whole school of thought on it and girls tend to slip through the net.”

Miriam added that Shira is “high-functioning and an extremely bright kid”.

She said: “There are misconceptions and a need to educate with regards to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“Shira reads non-stop, but doest like noise, although she puts up with it, and she doesn’t like changes in her routines.

“The teachers at KD have been very accommodating and I am currently preparing a presentation for them about being the parents of an autistic child, to mark Autism Week at the end of the month.

“There is also a buddy system where sixth-formers from the high school sit with Shira at lunchtime.

“She is also doing speech therapy at school and is part of a group which takes children with socialising problems and teaches them how to be more sociable through games.”

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