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Supporting parents and carers

The Autism Group is a Maidenhead based charity, committed to supporting and enhancing the lives of young people on the spectrum, their parents and carers. We offer a warm, well informed welcome through our special interest clubs, workshops and parent support services.

We know the struggles that parents and carers are having on a regular basis. They tell us that they feel uncomfortable joining mainstream parenting groups for fear of being judged and it was because of this clear need that we applied to the Innovation Fund to run support and information sessions for parents/carers whose preschool children have an Autism diagnosis or are on the pathway to assessment.

We already offer workshops and 1-1 support as part of our work with GEMS -  Autism and ADHD support services East Berkshire. However, we recognise the importance of bringing parents together to share their experiences as a reinforcement to learning and to reduce their feelings of isolation. These parent support session will be facilitated by two of our autism trained support workers.

We will be partnering with Larchfield Children’s Centre in Maidenhead where the group will meet. Larchfield offers plenty of equipment, toys and a sensory room. It is close to the town centre, on bus routes and has local on-street parking.

We will operate a crèche alongside sessions to better facilitate attendance and provide the chance to demonstrate strategies to help parents help their children. The crèche will be staffed by two childcare professionals experienced in working with preschool aged autistic children.

Parents will be able to offer each other peer support whilst the staff will listen, facilitate discussions and provide information. The parents will hopefully build sustainable relationships after meeting at this point in their children’s lives.

The Children’s Centres consider this is much needed and are very keen to work with us: The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Family Support Worker for Early Years, can already identify families to introduce us to and ask to attend the groups on occasion. We know of nothing like this currently running in the area and understand the isolation parents describe.

We propose to start in January 2022 using staff with lived experience. We would like to expand this type of support group across the other local authorities once we are sure we have the best practicable model shaped by listening to parents, carers, families and our partners.