A SCHOOLBOY is leading a campaign to educate his peers about autism to help them better understand aspects of his behaviour.

Joseph Houldey, nine, was diagnosed with high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome when he was four and volunteered to stand up in front of assembly at Millbrook School, Grove to speak to 300 children about his condition, as part of events for Autism Awareness Week last month.

Mum Katheryn, 40, who has also started an informal support group for other parents of autistic children, said: “We wanted to arrange something that would help raise awareness and we approached the school.

“Joseph said he wanted to stand up and tell everybody how he feels so the teachers helped him to prepare and deliver a speech which he did very confidently.

“All the other students were captivated while he was talking.

“I think it helps them understand a bit more about his behaviour and will make it easier for him in the future.”

Mrs Houldey, who also works at the school in the nursery, is planning a fundraising event on April 23 when a stall will be held in the playground and stickers and balloons given away in aid of the National Autistic Society.

Teachers have been given education packs from the charity to help them gain a better understanding of the condition and how they can support students.

Mrs Houldey added: “At times, it can be difficult for others to understand autism, I for one didn’t know much about it before Joseph was diagnosed.

“He is a very bright, witty and caring boy but sometimes reacts in an inappropriate way and finds it hard to express how he is feeling or what the problem is.

“He is very aware of his autism and we have educated him so that he is beginning to understand how it affects him and how he can cope with day-to-day life.

“We want him to be proud of himself and not be ashamed of having autism, it is what makes you who you are.

“We are all so proud of what he has done and want to continue to spread awareness in whatever way we can.”