Sheffield optometrist Alex Gage, his wife Sarah and his staff celebrated Light it up Blue Day recently in conjunction with a Sheffield charity, Support Dogs, to raise awareness and funds for children who live with Autism.
To celebrate Autism Awareness Week recently, Alex and the team at both the Crosspool and Woodseats practices dressed in blue, sold blue cup-cakes and wore blue wigs to engage in a fun way with patients about how Autism affects young lives. As part of the event, Alex invited Amy and a very special dog, Cass from Sheffield Charity, Support Dogs along.
Alex explained: “As an optometrist, my role is to help young people with Autism to process visual information. You and I see things and can tell whether they are on the television or actually there. When we walk in a room, we can assess the scale of things and the distance between ourselves and objects. With Autism, the information the eyes are sending to the brain is not always being processed in the same way. For example, if an autistic child sees something happen, they may not be able to work out whether that’s happening in the room they’re in, or on the television.”
A spokesperson from Support Dogs said: “Our clients are children with autism who are often unable to communicate or express their feelings in a way that is understood by others.
“They may have little sense of danger or of the consequences of their actions. One in 100 children in the UK are diagnosed with Autism and half of these children will have a tendency to bolt and wander off from their care givers, which can be very dangerous.
“Autism Assistance Dogs are trained to reduce behavioural outbursts and help the child to become more engaged and independent. They provide comfort for the child when upset and can help a child to communicate more easily. Our dogs can change the lives of these young people and their whole families.”
As a result of Amy and Cass’s visit, Alex Gage has pledged to make a monthly donation to the Support Dogs charity to help with their ongoing fundraising efforts.
Support Dogs is a national charity dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life for people with various medical conditions. The charity provides, trains and supports specialist assistance dogs to achieve this.