State award won for autism support
FOUNDER of the South Burnett Autism Support Group, Jenny Lutz, has been recognised for her service to autism support.
The Kingaroy mother received the 2017 Autism Queensland Creative Futures Parent/Carer Award after being nominated by the rest of her group.
Mrs Lutz was surprised to receive the award at a ceremony at Government House last December.
"It was a big shock to me, but I feel that I got that award on behalf of the whole group and all my friends," she said.
"Going to Government House with His Excellency The Honourable Paul de Jersey was very scary because of all the protocol, and I had no idea I was going to win either.
"He was lovely, he came up to me after I was announced and asked if I was OK because I was crying."
Mrs Lutz founded the support group 22 years ago, when her son Greg was diagnosed with autism at the age of 11.
At the time, resources and support for autism were virtually impossible to come by in the region, so she and her husband decided to start up a group to share support and advice among families and individuals living with autism.
"There was very little known about it and doctors didn't really know how to diagnose it, so you had to go to specialised places in Brisbane," Mrs Lutz said.
"In that time, we've talked to people ranging from families with two-year-olds to people in their 30s."
The group hopes to be able to increase the number of people involved with the group to provide support activities and spread awareness as information becomes more available.
They run regular activities for kids with autism, and are looking at putting together similar support groups aimed at adults.
"There's people older than my son, who have been with us since the beginning, but we'd like more families," Mrs Lutz said.
"He (Greg) is doing OK, he's living independently, he drives and has a part-time job."
As information becomes more available, the hereditary nature of the autism spectrum has started to become more apparent.
Now, when a child receives a diagnosis, it can be found that one of their parents may also be on the spectrum.
"Some people ask me whether autism is on the increase. I think it's always been here and doctors have gotten better at diagnosing it," Mrs Lutz said.
"My father probably had Asperger's Syndrome, but he was a farmer and didn't talk to many people."
There are about 50 children in the support group.
The group meets on the first Friday of the month at SBCare Kingaroy from 7pm.
For more information, phone Jenny on 41641107.