A GLASGOW charity has joined forces with school pupils in the city and abroad to help young people with autism.

Starchild, which was set up by former Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year finalist Michaela Foster Marsh, built a school for the creative arts in Uganda.

However, Michaela realised children with autism were being turned away because of enduring myths about disabilities and learning difficulties in the African country.

“The stigmas surrounding disability in Uganda are horrendous,” explains Michaela, who was shortlisted for SWOTY in 2016.

“I found families where children were being locked up in the dark to keep them away from being abused by people in their own community. That has to stop.”

Starchild has been working with the Communication Support Service for autism at Williamwood High School on the south side of Glasgow for more than a year, and recently made a film to show to the Starchild community and education leaders in Uganda.

“Head teacher Willie Inglis and teacher Angela Smyth are hugely supportive of Starchild, and pupils now support a child’s education in Uganda and have been learning about global citizenship,” adds Michaela, who lives in Newlands.

“By producing a film with the parents, teachers and the pupils from Williamwood, we hope to prove to the people in Uganda that these children are worth investing in. They have a right to an education.”

In Uganda, Michaela discovered that often the mother of an autistic child would also be shunned by the community, while the father would leave and remarry.

“In the film we show that fathers here stay and love their child no matter what,” she explains. “We are able to show the joy children with autism can bring to a family.”

The film, We See The World Differently, was written and directed by two students from Caledonia University, Reka Keresztes and Rebeka Luzaityte.

Rebeka says: “‘I’ve learned a lot, and not just about documentary filmmaking. Meeting people who live with autism has been the best and most memorable experience of all.”

She adds: “The stories in the film often go unheard and I hope that people, both in Scotland and Uganda, can learn from it as well as see themselves represented positively and accurately.”

The film was screened at Glasgow Film Theatre this week and will now be shown in the school and sent to Uganda.

Michaela adds: “It was very brave of the parents and pupils to speak so openly and honestly about autism. It was emotional and a great afternoon celebrating beautiful children.

“I hope the film manages to get out there and encourage the gatekeepers of education in Uganda to open up and accept diversity in schools.