Dan Gardner, the midfielder, worries about whether Oldham Athletic will be able to do enough in the remaining four games to reach the play-offs, or if they will miss out.

He worries about next season and where he will be, with his current contract at Boundary Park expiring this summer.

One way or another those footballing situations will be resolved.

But for Dan Gardner, the father, there is a parental worry that will never go away.

"When my son, Bailey, was four or five months old my partner, Tennille, started noticing signs... his eating, sleeping, flapping, eye contact. Everything that comes with autism he was showing," he explained.

"We didn't know anything about autism at the time, like a lot of people. Back then there wasn't a lot of awareness. It's getting a bit better now.

"But my partner was on the ball with it. Children can't be diagnosed until they are two years old, but we started the process early with the doctor that we went to see first, and then we went through all the processes we needed to go through to get the diagnosis.

"But it's a massive fight. Even after he was diagnosed with autism, Tennille fought and fought and we got the outcome that we wanted and he got the care that he needed.

"Bailey's severely autistic so he's in a special school, and it's great for him, but he's eight now - nine in July - so he'll be moving to a new location next term, which we're looking forward to.

"We just take every day as it is with Bailey, he's a great little boy. He's a bundle of joy and he makes us happy."

Every day is autism acceptance day for Gardner and his family. But this week and this weekend take on extra significance as the former Chesterfield and Wigan man, who celebrates his 34th birthday on Friday, does his bit to raise wider awareness and acceptance with the help of his Latics team-mates and manager Micky Mellon to mark Autism Acceptance Week (2-8 April).

"More information is getting out there and helping people know what it's about, and this is a big week for raising awareness," said Gardner.

"It's a massive part of my life with Bailey. And I've spoken to the manager (Micky Mellon) about it because he does a lot with autistic children and children with ADHD.

"It's good to know he's involved with stuff like that and to have him to talk to.

"We've got a banner made for the Rochdale game on Saturday that we'll have our picture taken with and display it before the game."

Gardner will hope that Bailey can be involved in some way, but football is an environment that has to be carefully managed for his son.

"It's great when he comes to games but it's a bit too loud for him and there are too many people," he explained.

"But the O2 suite that the club have done up for families to use on matchdays has been great, and my little girl Myla comes to every home game. She's four and she's brilliant with Bailey. She's very understanding at such a young age, and that's down to my partner being so good with them.

"But Bailey can't really handle it at games so he'll come for maybe 10 minutes and then he'll have to leave, so grandparents play a massive part in helping us."

Football, Gardner says, is his own escape.

"It's something that can take my mind off being a 24-hour carer at home and just go out and be free and not worry about it too much when I'm at football," he said.

"Going home and seeing Bailey and Myla is something that I look forward to, especially when I've had a bad day.

"Bailey is unbelievable with numbers and alphabets. He used to be able to do the Russian alphabet and the Spanish alphabet and a few others, but he's moved on to numbers now.

"Once he gets his mind on one thing he's fully driven on that, like most autistic kids are with routine and stuff like that."

"It's been a massive learning curve for me. It's chilled me out a lot more I'd say, apart from when I'm on the pitch and I let out all my frustrations out there."