In 2017 a support group for parent/carers of children with Autism was initiated by staff at Heathcoat Primary school due to an increase in families going through the diagnosis pathway and many of them expressed their concern around a lack of support while going through assessments and after diagnosis. Lou Dedames, Kylie Ford (Heathcoat primary School) worked together with Joanne Hill a parent carer who has a child on the spectrum.
We are under the umbrella and with full support of ‘Unite Carers’ the group was set up using a community room within Mid Devon.
The group is open to parent/carers of any age child as this supports sharing knowledge and experience from many perspectives.
The group is held on the first two Wednesdays of every month alternating morning and afternoon, for parents who have other commitments.
Each session has a main focus which the parents have decided in advance as to what they would like to focus on or areas that they would like to gain further knowledge of. The group aims to provide a friendly space for parents to meet together to share good practise, strategies and support for each other.
We invite external professionals and practitioners to attend where possible to support parents in accessing specialist support.
Throughout the school holidays we have workshop/activities days that are open to the whole family.
We also run 'Affinity and Beyond' workshops, throughout the year, so parents have access to support during the holidays and children have access to a range of activities to explore as well as meeting other children who have a diagnosis of Autism.
This allowed parents/carers the opportunity to share experiences and strategies, and the children inculding their siblings learn new techniques to help themselves, being more aware of their emotions and surroundings and self-awareness of senses that may affect them in both positive and negative ways. Parents will also have the opportunity to develop an understanding of how and why their children behave in certain ways, they themselves can gain confidence in directly helping their child.