Fighting for Autism Awareness

Paolo Lucci

Daniel Lerwell is a Bare Knuckle Boxing champion. The undefeated ‘Lionheart’ is one of the most feared punchers in the sport. However, Lerwell admits his fights are ‘nothing’ compared to the battles people with autism and their families experience every day. Here’s why…

Out of the ring, fearsome knockout artist Daniel Lerwell considers himself “just a normal working dad”. He lives with his wife and their three children. The youngest, Theo, has Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The condition means that Theo interprets the world around him differently to most people. He can become distressed by things most people wouldn’t think twice about. “The struggle comes with every day things, Lerwell said, “Even something as small as a haircut is a huge battle for kids on the spectrum.” He insisted that the battles he goes through in the ring are nothing compared to what autistic children go through every day.

“These kids are the warriors, not us boxers!”

Daniel Lerwell

Life can be difficult for parents of children with autism. However, Lerwell said recent years have been the happiest of his life. “Honestly, I would not change Theo for the world”. 

Raising a child with autism can be made more difficult by people who do not understand the condition. That’s why Lerwell is on a mission to spread autism awareness.

“It’s the sole reason why I fight. If just 1% of the people who watch me gain awareness of autism, then I’m happy”.

What is autism?

Autism is a life-long condition that affects the          way individuals socialise, behave, communicate      and interpret the world around them.

Autism occurs on a spectrum. This means that autism can be mild, severe, or anywhere in between. Some autistic people can still live and work independently. Some autistic people need around the clock care. Globally, autism is estimated to affect 21.7 million people as of 2013. As of 2010, the number of people affected is estimated at about 1–2 per 1,000.

What characteristics do people with autism often have?

Characteristics of autism vary greatly from person to person. However, they often include:

  • Difficulty interpreting other people’s emotions.
  • Getting upset by seemingly minor problems.
  • Spending long periods of time focussing intensely on one thing.
  • Failing to understand social norms.
  • Children taking longer to reach developmental milestones.
  • A strong need for a strict daily routine.

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