Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Community Pictionary event to raise money for autism

A Benalla couple is hosting a 'Drawtism' event to raise money for Autism Spectrum Australia.

MONIQUE FREER August 1, 2014 3:25am

Adam Toms with his son Mitchel, who has autism.Benalla Ensign on 23/04/2014 CAPTION: Adam Toms with his son Mitchel, who has autism.

A Benalla couple is hoping a friendly game of community Pictionary will generate a greater understanding of autism spectrum disorders.

Adam and Jo Toms are hosting the town’s inaugural Drawtism event, which uses the picture-based game to help understand the communication challenges faced by people with autism.

‘‘This is a subject very close to our hearts as our eldest son Mitchel is on the spectrum,’’ Mr Toms said.

‘‘We’ll also know the official diagnosis — either way — for our youngest, Riley, by the date of the event.’’

Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disability that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.

It is estimated that one in 100 people have autism spectrum disorder — nearly 230000 Australians — and it affects nearly four times as many boys as girls.

Since Mitchel’s diagnosis the Toms family has formed a relationship with Autism Spectrum Australia, the leading supplier of services for children with an autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities.

All proceeds from next month’s Benalla Drawtism event will go to the organisation.

Drawtism was developed five years ago and has raised more than $600000 to date for people with autism spectrum disorders.

Mr Toms said anyone who had ever played Pictionary knew the frustration of trying to make your drawing understood by teammates — a frustration very similar to the constant communication challenges facing those living with autism.

For Mr Toms having a child with autism has taught him to embrace other ways of communicating.

‘‘Most kids who are autistic, they have a different way of explaining things, you might say that it is black but they may say it’s white so you have to teach them to realise that it’s not actually white,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s learning how to understand how they’re thinking because in a lot of ways it’s a bit different to what people without autism think.’’

A musician by trade and passion, Mr Toms launched a fundraising campaign in April to raise money for Autism Spectrum Australia.

He is donating six months of download sales of his single I Wouldn’t Change A Thing to the organisation, along with $10 from all physical Rich Man album sales.

Drawtism will be held on Saturday, August 9 from 7.30pm at the Benalla All Blacks Function Rooms.

The night will include fun and games, trivia, raffles, silent auctions and a live performance by Mr Toms.

Tickets are $10, $80 for a table of 10 and free for children under 12; nibbles are provided and drinks will be available at bar prices.

For more information or to book your tickets phone Adam Toms on 0419504649 or email

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