Landmark buildings across the Capital are to join the Empire State Building and Sydney Opera House in being lit up blue to mark World Autism Day.
The City Chambers, The Hub, Harvey Nichols and Teviot House are among those taking part in the Light It Up Blue event on April 2.
The illumination has been organised by Lothian Autistic Society (LAS) and Autism Initiatives Scotland to raise awareness of the condition. It is being backed by families affected by autism, including Dave and Millie Baxter from Clovenstone, whose sons Josh, nine and Daniel, seven, were diagnosed with autism on the same day when they were three and four years old.
Mr Baxter, 37, who works as a bank administrator, said the news had come as both a shock and a relief. He said: “Nobody wants to hear that their child is not perfect, but at last we had a reason for Josh and Daniel being different.
“We knew something wasn’t quite right when Josh as a toddler would headbutt the letter box and had tantrums that lasted for hours. When Daniel was two, we noticed that he was unable to speak and would only eat chocolate buttons and drink milk. He was referred to the Sick Kids to check if he had any problems with his throat.
“Daniel did not like being in strange places, so while in the consultant’s office, he sat on the ground, screamed and banged his head off the floor.
“The consultant then referred us to the communication clinic in the Sick Kids who went on to diagnose an autism spectrum disorder. In a strange way, it was a relief to have a diagnosis and we were able to seek the appropriate help.”
He said that raising awareness of autism and the way it affected his sons’ behaviour would make life easier for them all. He said: “Their autistic spectrum conditions can affect all aspects of daily life. For example, if we are taking Josh and Daniel out and something changes, which can be as simple as having to drive a different route to their favourite park, they can become very distressed and upset.
“Fortunately for us, the help and support we have received from the Lothian Autistic Society has been invaluable.”
He said the charity had provided Easter and summer play schemes with specially-trained carers for the children, advice and reassurance for themselves, and a respite scheme to enable them to spend time together.
Charlotte Taylor from Autism Initiatives said: “It is so important that people with autism, their families and carers know there are charities and organisations in Edinburgh to support them.”
If you would like to light up your business, school or home blue, contact Ms Taylor on 0131-220 1075 or e-mail Charlotte.Taylor@aiscotland.org.uk.