WA dairy farmers raise awareness of autism at Perth Royal Show

REGINA TITELIUS, Health Reporter, PerthNow

DAIRY farmers Belinda and Wayne Owston have had a long-standing romance with the Perth Royal Show.

They met at the Show in 2005, and when they married four years later, the maid of honour was a prize-winning Jersey cow, alongside a handsome Red Poll bull as the best man.

And now, with two young children, Jake, almost 3, and Bridgette, 5, the Owstons are making their annual trip to the Show to hopefully collect a few more ribbons for their stud beef and dairy cattle property at Whitby, near Mundijong.

Among the animals on exhibition will be heifer Rose, from their Broselinda Park Holstein stud line.

Rose will be auctioned at a special stud sale in March to raise awareness for Autism West.

With both of their kids recently diagnosed as autistic, the Owstons are keen to inform people about the condition.

Bridgette Owston, 5, with Cinderella a baby Guersey cow on her parents farm. Picture: Daniel Wilkins

“Before last year, we didn’t know anything about autism,” Mr Owston said. “This is our way of raising awareness, particularly in country areas.”

Mr Owston said although farm life could sometimes be a challenging environment for their children, particularly Jake who had no sense of fear, it also offered many rewards.

Autism West chief executive Alison Davis said: “Young people on the autism spectrum, whether they’re in regional or metro areas, need support to develop their social skills.

“The initiative the Owston family is taking with auctioning Rose, and to raise their kids on their farm, is a great example of what people in our community can do to raise awareness and offer wonderful opportunities to the lives of kids on the autism spectrum.”

Mr Owston is speaking in November at the Autism West Symposium.

The Royal Show starts on Saturday, September 24.

from http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-...