A SIX-year-old boy is one of the faces of a county-wide poster campaign to raise awareness of autism.
David Elston, from Bognor Regis, is among 15 residents across West Sussex who are sharing their stories of living with autism.
The campaign has been launched by West Sussex County Council to coincide with world autism day next Thursday (April 2).
A series of street events are being held on the day to increase understanding of the condition.
David’s mother, Donna Elston, said: “Until I had David, I didn’t know anything about autism.
“I hope by taking part in this poster we can share our experience and make a difference.”
An estimated 9,000 people have autism in the county – one in 100.
The new posters can be seen around the county in places such as libraries, GP surgeries, police stations and leisure centres.
The Understanding Autism campaign aims to challenge common stereotypes and misconceptions of the condition.
The posters show autism is a ‘hidden’ condition. A person’s appearance does not show if they have it.
“David is a real character,” said Donna. “His autism means he is very hypersensitive to sounds.
“When he hears a siren or a fire alarm, he gets scared and has a meltdown. He has a ‘fight or flight’ reflex and he either fights back, runs or freezes.
“Supermarkets can be quite overwhelming to him and people sometimes think he is having a tantrum about not getting something he wants.
“In actual fact, it is that he is overwhelmed by being there.”
The street event in Bognor will take place from 2pm-4.30pm in the London Road precinct.
The county council works with a range of charities and organisations to support people of all ages with autism.
Peter Evans, the council’s cabinet member for children – start of life, said: “Autism affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people and there is still a great deal of ignorance and misunderstanding about the condition.”