A West Norfolk family is trying to raise awareness of autism as well as funds to help the local branch of the Autistic Society.

Paul and Victoria Barnett, of South Wootton, have twin boys with autism and global development delay.

The youngsters, Luke and Robin, are six-years-old and Mr Barnett said other parents could often mistake their behaviour for either naughtiness or bad parenting.

Today marks the start of World Autism Week and Mr Barnett, who runs Kings Oak fitted furniture business of King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, hopes  raising awareness could result in more acceptance of the disorder.

The couple also have an eight-year-old daughter, Fern, and Mr Barnett has older children Emily, 18, and Thomas, 17.

He is a member of the National Autistic Society and the West Norfolk Autistic Society.

Mr Barnett explained the local branch needed money to support facilities which families could attend and children could enjoy.

Mr Barnett’s business sponsors regular sessions for the group at Farmer Fred’s play barn in Heacham where the children can play and parents can get away from the normal daily challenges.

“If people see a child or an adult they don’t always appreciate what problems they might have. One of my twins bangs his head and it can be distressing for other people, but for me it is fairly normal,” said Mr Barnett.

The group holds swimming sessions at Downham Market and Mr Barnett said his boys also enjoyed riding sessions at the Magpie Centre in Runcton Holme, run by West Norfolk Riding for the Disabled.

Mr Barnett said the society was run by volunteers who welcomed any help or advice from people relating to grant applications.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world.

It is a spectrum condition, meaning that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.

Mr Barnett said Luke was 18-months-old when they noticed he had a problems with his concentration and didn’t respond to his name. He also started to bang his head and it was thought at first he had a hearing problem.

However, following assessment, he was diagnosed and the family discovered Robin was on the spectrum as well.

Mr Barnett said: “We were lucky and had a quick diagnosis and really it was a relief that there was a reason for this and it wasn’t my parenting skills.”