Two mothers of autistic children have shared their experiences to raise awareness of the condition.
Both are full-time carers and have stressed the importance of an early diagnosis.
Maria Box, 37, of Pound Hill, said she and her son, Ryan, 5, were “very very lucky” to have him diagnosed for severe autism when he was aged two.
She said: “We only got a leaflet, we were pretty much left to it and it was only luck through the National Autism Society that I found out there was a local support group.”
Maria became the chairperson of Autism Support Crawley two years ago.
She said: “I want people out there to understand that children kicking and screaming in Tescos might be autistic.
“I just want people to understand and have a bit of patience and think before they judge.”
Trish Duffy, 27, of Bewbush, has been “pushing and fighting” for her daughter Kaitlyn, 5, to get a diagnosis for autism for more than a year.
Kaitlyn has recently had a provisional diagnosis for pathological demand avoidance (PDA), a non-severe form of autism.
Trish said: “My daughter’s had very little support and I’ve struggled massively with her.
“It’s taken a year and a half of fighting to get to this stage and she could have been picked up at two.
“There was some confusion because she gave eye contact, so one of the teachers thought she could not be autistic.”
Trish said Kaitlyn had been excluded from school five times in six weeks and taken out of her classroom because of disruptive behaviour.
She added: “It’s completely frustrating watching my daughter struggle.
“I’m trying my best but I’ve had my parenting questioned lots because she has no diagnosis.
“I would like to see more screening at a younger age from people who know about autism.”