18 November 2022

Terra Ag boss dedicates birthday to raise funds for Griffith Autism Support Group

| Oliver Jacques
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Father Trent Anderson next to his son

Trent Anderson and son Lochie. Photo: Supplied.

The co-owner of Griffith rural supplies business Terra Ag has dedicated his 40th birthday to raising funds for the Griffith Autism Spectrum Support Group (GASG), with friends and family donating more than $1700 to the local volunteer group.

Trent Anderson came up with the idea along with his wife Candy. The couple were inspired by their 10-year-old son Lochie, who is on the autism spectrum.

“Trent’s birthday was coming up and he figured he could buy anything he wants for himself,” Candy said. “So instead of getting presents from others, he asked that they don’t buy him anything and donate money to [GASG] … we were stoked by the response.”

READ ALSO Griffith student’s mission to rebrand autism as an asset

Candy said she couldn’t think of a better cause, as GASG do so much to help Griffith families.

“They bring in experts in the field and they bring specialists like occupational therapists to Griffith. The also do a Christmas party for the kids and all sorts of workshops.”

Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] is defined as a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Around 200,000 Australians live with ASD.

Candy said support groups like GASG were essential in rural areas, where there was a lack of publicly funded specialists to help those with ASD.

“Our son Lochie wasn’t talking until he was three or four. But a speech therapist started working with him and now we can’t shut him up. It just shows how important those supports are,” she said.

Lochie on a tractor

Lochie rides a tractor. Photo: Supplied.

Dene Beltrame, president of GASG, said there were very few occupational and speech specialists who lived and worked full-time in the Riverina. GASG raises money and relies on donations to be able to fund medical professionals to come to Griffith and treat children with ASD.

Dene’s son Noah, 17, is on the spectrum and an advocate, and has worked hard to change people’s perception of ASD.

“I don’t look at autism as a disability … I see [the difference between those on or not on the spectrum] more like the difference between left-handers and right-handers,” he said.

“I, like most people with autism, have unusually heightened senses … we have pretty advanced hearing, which can irritate my parents at times as they don’t want me to hear some of their stuff.”

Candy agreed, highlighting the advanced skills of her son Lochie.

“He’s fantastic at maths, he has a keen sense of hearing … he’s very academic and a perfectionist, he loves cars … he wants to be a mechanic so he can work on fast cars.”

READ ALSO Son Aiden provides inspiration as Griffith preschool teacher publishes first children’s book

Trent is now undertaking Movember, a global movement in which men grow moustaches to raise money for and awareness of mental health issues.

More information on GASG can be found on their website.

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