Xavier Grayson, 7, has autism and
Xavier Grayson, 7, has autism and "loves school", says his dad Ben.

'He just wants friends': dad says Hanson comments hurt

LISMORE single dad Ben Grayson has been rallying for four years to find out what's wrong with his son.

Diagnosed with global development delay as a toddler, Xavier was expected to grow out of his symptoms by seven.

But the boy continued to struggle.

Among symptoms, Xavier has speech problems, confusion, emotional upsets and on some days can't write his own name.

Finally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) level one, funding flowed for the South Lismore Public School student and his medical treatment

With help from a team of therapists, Mr Grayson said Xavier was now thriving while repeating Kindy.

But an awareness of "being different" from his school friends remained heartbreaking.

Xavier Grayson is in kindy.
Xavier Grayson is in kindy.

"Xavier tells me he has no friends and once brought home a book from the library about being different, and that was sad," Mr Grayson said.

"He sees the older kids in Year 1, where he should be, and he tries to be with them.

"The way I see it, Xavier is trying to see at their level, so we're trying to build him up rather than put him down."

Mr Grayson found Senator Pauline Hanson's recent suggestion that autistic and disabled children should be segregated from mainstream classrooms inflammatory.

Ms Hanson said: "It is no good saying that we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and that we do not want to upset them and make them feel hurt."

"What Pauline Hanson said just sounded awful," Mr Grayson responded.

"The way she said it really hurt me because of what my son went through.

"The children are feeling excluded as it is, they just want to fit in and be normal."

Ben Grayson said he spent four years diagnosing Xavier, 7, who is now receiving a range of early intervention treatments for autism.
Ben Grayson said he spent four years diagnosing Xavier, 7, who is now receiving a range of early intervention treatments for autism.

Mr Grayson thanked Brighter Futures, Summerland Early Intervention, and Ready, Set, Go childcare for their support, and expressed a belief in that children with severe autism could be assisted with teachers' aides.

Other Northern NSW parents spoke out on the controversial debate on Facebook, on Saturday.

Jaime Bowler said she was reconsidering her pursuit of a diagnosis for her child due to Ms Hanson's comments.

"I'm worried now this will reignite the stigma, that they should not be heard or seen … stick them away were no one has to deal with them."

While Shonel Roberts, who's son attends an autistic specific class at Lismore Public School agreed with Ms Hanson.

"My son is autistic and I feel he will never make it in main stream.

"Having a special section for ASD children is a great idea.

"Unless they have a specified teacher to help them in a main stream classroom some may never learn properly.

Since making her parliamentary speech, Ms Hanson has told media her comments have been taken out of context.

She claims her comments were about ensuring autistic and disabled students' needs were met within the school community, and with Federal adequate funding.

She's said that she has support from some school teachers and parents, who have thanked her for sparking the debate.

Football player Shaun Berrigan spoke out in support of Ms Hanson yesterday, saying that based on his experience with his autistic daughter, autistic children do need their own schools.
 



Buccaneers-Souths United clash washed out

Buccaneers-Souths United clash washed out

Officials announced the decision early Friday.

Local Partners