FAMILY members in north Essex have marked an annual event recognising people who live with autism.

Autism is a developmental disability which sees those who are autistic think about and process things in a different way to most other individuals.

World Autism Awareness Day takes place on April 2 each year.

Having been established by the United Nations in 2007, the event is intended to transform the narrative around autism by improving people’s understanding of developmental disorders and neurodivergence.

In recognition of this year’s World Autism Awareness Day, the Gazette asked readers to send in photos of their nearest and dearest who live with autism.

Almost all who got in touch were parents sharing stories about their children, spanning a wide range of ages.

Here we have gathered a selection of those photos in this picture spread.

One parent, Jemma Coupland, shared her pride for son Albie, 10, having raised £330 for the National Autistic Society by walking a 5km colour spectrum walk.

She said: "Albie finds demands hard and found the walk a challenge so we are incredibly proud of him."

In March, it was reported the Doucecroft School in Eight Ash Green, Colchester is working towards getting a state of the art drama studio which leaders say is "vital".

The school is run by Autism Anglia while money will be raised for Colchester-based Premier Unit Promotions to make the unit a reality.

It is hoped the youngsters could boost their confidence levels through improvised or scripted performances.

The venue is also planned to emulate a real stage environment, with mirrors, curtains, lights, modular staging, and a sound system.

Premier Print and Promotions has already planned a 100k walk and a skydive to help raise the funds.