Autism Wairarapa board member Diane Collinson with granddaughter Isabella. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Eli Hill

“For everything she does out there, there’s a team that’s working behind the scenes to help her out.”

Autism awareness month is being held throughout April.

This week, the Midweek sat down with Autism Wairarapa board member Diane Collinson to discuss how the board works to keep the cogs of Autism Wairarapa turning.

Diane who has autism in her family and is friends with Autism Wairarapa support co-ordinator Wendy Lowe had considered being a part of the board for several years.

“Push came to a shove when it came to re-boarding, we were looking for fresh faces.

“I became aware that numbers might not be there, and I just started feeling a niggle, that inner voice telling me to give it a go.”

Her idea was just to be a silent board member and get the numbers across the line.

“Because I’ve seen the problems getting a diagnosis and then trying to work out what to do next first hand, I know what it’s like for people.

“There’s a real need out there for this service, and I know Wendy will move heaven and earth to help you reach it or put you in touch with the right people so that’s why I put my hand up.”

Although she’d planned to just be a “silent member” Diane has found the board’s processes fascinating and has found herself becoming involved in the “organising” of the organisation.

With a background in administration, Diane said the board had been a great place to use her strengths.

“If you’ve got some spare time, some passion, then I challenge everyone to give sitting on a board a go, boards out there need it.
“People that think they can’t make a difference – oh yes they can.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are.”

Her roles include gathering information to apply for funding, making decisions as part of the board, and supporting Wendy in meeting people.

The board, who meet monthly are all Wairarapa people, and Diane said that is what gives them their strength.

“We’re Autism Wairarapa but we’re so much more than that.

“We’re hoping to be a hub of contacts for other groups.

“We understand Wairarapa’s issues, there’s a reason we don’t live in Wellington, and we’re not part of a national organisation so we can focus on what Wairarapa really needs.”