Newsletter - Summer 2016

Welcome

Hi all and welcome to the summer edition of our newsletter

Apologies that we haven't produced a newsletter for so long. We've had some kind offers of help and hope to return to a quarterly newsletter in the Autumn so you can keep track of what we're up to!

We try to keep people up to date in between newsletters via e mail but if you haven't ticked the relevant box when you signed up then sadly we're not able to do so. If you would like to receive our e mails please get in touch so we can arrange this or, alternatively, keep checking our website or facebook group/page for updates. Also - if you change your e mail address and want to remain on our list please don't forget to tell us.

We have had a new addition to our committee since the last newsletter - a HUGE thank you to David Normington for responding to our cries of help for a new Treasurer. You will get a chance to meet David at our AGM which we are planning for late September. We will be in touch soon with a date and venue and would really appreciate members coming along to give us some feedback and, for anyone wanting to take a more active role, this is the perfect time to volunteer!

We hope that you all have a very enjoyable summer. Our branch will be closing down for the school holidays because most of our committee have school age children and it's not possible for us to provide a "normal" service. The branch phone will be turned off but we'll be responding to e mails and to postings on our Facebook group/page and Twitter account. If you have an urgent query then you can always contact the NAS central helpline on 0808 800 4104 or check out their website for phone numbers of individual departments such as Education, Welfare and community care
www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines.aspx 

Finally - a date for your diary is our next NAS fun and information day at 315 gym in Lancaster on Sunday 2nd October from 11-4pm. There will be information stalls, a free swim/bouncy castle, face painting (small charge) and a chance to meet the disability swim squad instructor and some lovely dogs from Animal care! More details to follow after the summer. A big thank you to 315 for letting us have the run of their gym for free so that we can host these great family events.

Thank you and hopefully see you very soon

Gill, Lucy, Debbie, Tracy and David

Donations

Clubs at Lancaster University

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Youth Group 12-19 years

Autism Diagnostic pathway for children

As some parents in this area may be aware, the diagnostic process for children has been in a state of flux recently with no clear timescale offered. As a branch, but also as parents, we have tried to get involved with professionals in the area to help rectify this as it quite clearly needs improvement. Gillian and Lucy are working closely with the community Paediatric team as well as the Lancashire North Clinical Commissioners to help shape the service and make it a more worthwhile, sustainable and suitable service to meet the needs of the families in the area. Work is ongoing but we can assure you that positive steps are being taken and all the professionals involved from all points of access for health are very passionate about getting this right for families. Please watch out for more news as we get some that we can share.

Setting up a free school for children with autism

Our branch was recently approached by a lady, Kate Heathcote, who is very keen to set up a free school in this area for children with autism whose needs aren't currently being met by the education system.

Kate has experience of setting up schools and we agree with her that there's clearly a need for a secondary school for those who don't have IQ learning difficulties but can't cope with a mainstream environment (eg due to sensory processing issues) or who are inappropriate placed in a special school/school for emotional and behavioural disorders because there is no-where else for them to go.

This is a HUGE project and will take time, effort and money but we have to start somewhere and the first steps are a) trying to gather evidence from parents/children themselves to prove there is a need for this type of school and b) to ensure we have enough expertise before we can apply for funding.

Kate is formulating a survey to send out to parents/children but she needs input from someone with senior management experience (head/deputy) in a maintained special school and someone with financial management experience eg a school burser or business manager. These people don't need to commit to the role once the school has been set up but their input is needed for the funding bids. For more information please contact Kate directly kt.heathcote@googlemail.com

Education and Training

CYGNETS AUTISM TRAINING COURSE

We are very pleased to tell you that Lucy Ellis has procured some funding from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to run the Cygnets autism awareness course and this will be starting in September. The Cygnets course is produced by Barnardos who came to train a small group of people so that we can start some much needed autism awareness training in this area.

Lucy Ellis and Gill Mann will be running the 6 week course for parents/carers; Dr Mireille Formosa and Dr Fiona Eaton will be running the 2 day course for professionals; Lucy Ellis and Marilyn Parsons will be running the course to address issues around sexual health and autism and we hope to roll out the final element, for parents to help siblings, in the new year.

As you can imagine, demand for these courses will be extremely high but your name can be put down on a waiting list by contacting Cygnetsnorthlancs@gmail.com

NAS BRANCH "TOO MUCH INFORMATION" AUTISM AWARENESS TALKS

Our committee members will receive training in the Autumn so we can deliver an excellent Autism awareness session as part of the NAS "Too much Information" campaign. It will be a 2 hour power point presentation suitable for anyone/organisation who wants a basic introduction to autism and it's aim is to make communities more accessible to our members by creating more awareness and understanding. As soon as we are trained and ready to go we will let people know and will be happy to come and talk to anyone who wants to hear us ! These talks will be free of charge.

Carer support groups

There's been a huge increase in the number of people being signposted to our branch in recent months. Many are frustrated by the long waiting times for a referral/diagnosis and we understand what a difficult time this can be for the whole family.

We're here to support families who are awaiting or going through the diagnostic process so please come along to our meetings if you are able. Quite often the best support/advice you can get is from other carers who have similar experiences.

Our NAS information meeting is on the first Wednesday of each month from 10-12pm at Firbank children's centre in Lancaster (term time only). There is always someone to chat to and members can loan books from our library.

Other local support groups include;
Unique Kids Stay and Play, Woodhill lane, Morecambe, LA4 4NW
Wednesday 10-12 and Thursday 11-1 (term time only)
Experienced play workers to entertain the children whilst you have coffee (and sometimes cake!) with other parent carers

"Face 2 Face" parent carer support group, Heysham Children's centre. Alternate Tuesdays term time only (see our website) hosted by Gillian Mitchell and George White

Children's activities & clubs in school holidays

The number one question we get asked by parents/carers this time of year is what's out there to keep your school aged children entertained in the summer holidays.

Attached to this newsletter are some flyers for various clubs/activities which are especially for, or understanding of, our children in this area.

North Lancashire Directions Group (run by Lucy Ellis) produces a comprehensive guide for all additional needs children, including Autism friendly screenings at the Vue and Reel cinema. If you would like to receive their newsletter please send an e mail to northlancsdirectionsgroup@gmail.com or look at their website www.northlancsdirectionsgroup.com/ 

There is lots of useful information in the
Family Information Network Directory (FIND) newsletter which includes the whole of Lancashire, useful for day trips in the summer. Their newsletter can be downloaded from their website

www.lancashire.gov.uk/children-education-families/special-educational-needs-and-disabilities/help-for-parents-and-carers/family-information-network-directory.aspx 

Further details can be found under the local offer website under the section "activities and transport" www.lancashire.gov.uk/children-education-families/special-educational-needs-and-disabilities/ 

Adult social Groups