We're celebrating World Autism Awareness Week. Kim brings her daughter Macie, aged three, to our early years sessions.

"Everyone thinks they know autism. It’s much more common these days, but just because we can name it, does not mean people understand it.

"Autism is such a wide spectrum and, as the saying goes, once you meet one child with autism, you have met one child with autism. Each child is an individual and can be so different. There is no definite cause; it’s not because my daughter had her jags or because it’s genetic, and that’s what makes it so interesting and hard to fully understand.

"My daughter Macie has the most amazing laughter, can be so loving and is extremely headstrong, but she is also challenging, frustrated and often struggles with things we take for granted. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at other children shopping with their parents and thought, "Will we ever be able to shop with out a meltdown?"

"Imagine being sat in the cinema next to someone crunching in your ear, the lights coming on so bright it blinds you, strangers all staring at you and you can’t speak - all you can do is scream. Well that’s what my beautiful daughter deals with every day.

"If you want to help her, don’t stare or tut as I cradle her on the floor to prevent her smashing her head. Simply smile and give her some room. Autism is invisible at times but it’s real. My child is not naughty; my child is beautifully different.

"Coming to The Yard helped me see that autism has its place in society and we aren’t alone in our journey. It gave us a new family that could understand and support our dark days, but even more so, celebrate the best days! It’s given Macie the space to play without judgement, and allowed us a space as a family to bond and develop. Since being at The Yard, with the support of Danielle who runs the early years service, Macie’s communication has come on leaps and bounds. I will forever be grateful to The Yard!"