A CWMBRAN mum has called for greater understanding around autism ahead of World Autism Awareness Week.

Jade Matthews, 32, was diagnosed with autism in January last year, and her two sons have also been diagnosed with autism.

Miss Matthews said she wants to raise awareness of the condition to dispel the many misconceptions that surround it.

“I know first-hand the struggle of accessing services and support in the UK,” she said.

“So much understanding and knowledge is needed around autism, because still today there is still many misconceptions and judgements.”

To help raise awareness of the condition, Miss Matthews is taking part in the Walk for Autism, where she will walk 10,000 steps each day from March 26 – coinciding with the start of World Autism Awareness Week - to April 2.

“I want to make a difference to the many families struggling to access support simply because the services are not available or adequate,” she said.

“I was diagnosed by the Gwent Integrated Autism Team in January 2020. I was emotional at first, but then my whole life made sense and I felt validated.

“There was a reason I was me, and I need to show my boys just how awesome being you is.”

Jade Matthews with her sons Alfie and Caleb. Picture: Jade Matthews.

Jade Matthews with her sons Alfie and Caleb. Picture: Jade Matthews.

Miss Matthews’ task will be made more difficult as she has also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia - a condition which causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness - and rheumatoid arthritis. She was also hospitalised after contracting coronavirus in December, and said she still is feeling the effects from long covid.

“This has made me more determined to do more,” she said. “After I have achieved this, I want to help the services who have helped my family.”

Miss Matthews has asked for people to message her Facebook group - ‘Jade’s Walk for Autism’ – with the names of their loved ones with autism, so she can wear a t-shirt with all their names on while completing the challenge.

“It’s so I'm walking for them,” she said.

Miss Matthews' sister, Kiyah-Rose Hawken, said: "I know it is a tremendous thing for my sister as she has struggled with so much and has come so far.

"I don't know how to explain how much this means to her and how proud her family back home in Cornwall are of what she is trying to do."

You can follow Miss Matthews’ progress on the ‘Jade's Walk for Autism’ Facebook page, and if you would like to donate, you can at walkforautism.co.uk/fundraiser/jadematthews