'Family on the brink': Mum's plea for help as kids suffer
KAY Lewis has two young children who are on the autism spectrum but because she lives in the Gladstone region, what support she does get here are "extremely limited".
Mrs Lewis rated Gladstone a three out of 10 for the quality and availability of support services in town and said she had to travel to Rockhampton once a week just to get the basic support she needed for her children.
"We've even had to go to Townsville, Bundaberg and Brisbane because there's nothing here," she said.
"There needs to be more communal access to services because if your child has autism but needs physio it's not fair on the child to be travelling across Central Queensland to access services.
"There's a massive amount of services everywhere else but when it comes to what is available here... you feel like you're letting your kids down," she said.
Mrs Lewis said her situation was extremely difficult because funding was hard to come by and both of her children required different levels of care.
"We've had to go above and beyond by writing letters just to get help because we can't cope without the support of services," she said.
"It puts your family on the brink.
"My youngest has severe autism and she can't go out because of the sensory overload and she will hurt herself which makes it hard to go out as a family so we don't because it's so stressful," she said.
In an effort to improve awareness of what services are available in Gladstone, a Parent and Children's Expo will be held at the Yaralla Sports Club this Friday from 9am to 2pm.
One of the expo's organisers, Gladstone Communities for Children CEO Wendy Morris said there was a whole range of free support available for families in Gladstone but many people didn't know where to go to get the help they needed.
"For many families trying to navigate a network of support services in the Gladstone region it can be like being lost without a GPS device," she said.
"We want to stop having the same conversations over and over and start working together more."
Autism Queensland Gladstone team leader Bonita Chard sympathised with parents who were travelling across the state for support.
But she said often the services they needed were in Gladstone and she wanted parents to know that they weren't alone "and that they can collaborate with local support services or get a referral to ensure they get the support they need".