February Half Term Dates 2018

All activites are suitable for all ages and all abilities

Activities

 Sunday 11th Feb  10.00 – 4.00(ish)Traffic dependant   –  Coach /Minibus Pick up and Drop off Northampton  (place TBC)  £25

Trip to The Ridge adventure playground  –  Exclusive hire. Indoor youth club with snooker table,

air hockey, football table and craft areas  and large outdoor adventure playground with slides,

climbing frames, Zip Wire, Sand and water play and  outdoor all  weather  games area.

Tuesday 13th Feb                1.00 – 3.30   £10              

If your child is new to us at  Autism East Midlands  or they haven’t accessed any of the Autism Concern  activities recently, these sessions are designed to give you time to come and meet the staff for the first ½ hour then leave your child with us so we can assess support needs for future events.

 Wednesday 14th  Feb          10.00 – 12.30  £10

 If your child is new to us at  Autism East Midlands  or they haven’t accessed any of the Autism Concern  activities recently, these sessions are designed to give you time to come and meet the staff for the first ½ hour then leave your child with us so we can assess support needs for future events.

Friday   15th  Feb                 10.00 – 3.00   £20                          

Activity day to include  arts craft inc slime making, Sensory play, board games, outdoor games , Nintendo Switch, Ipads etc

These events will take place at

Fernie Fields Scout & Community Centre. Fernie Fields, Moulton, Northampton, NN3 7BD

If you have any further questions  regarding these activities please email [email protected] or call  Play Service  on 07793118190

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Autism Concern officially merges with Autism East Midlands

Autism East Midlands will be celebrating its 50th year this year and Northampton based organisation, Autism Concern, is celebrating 25 years both aligned with a mission to improve the lives of those with Autism Spectrum Conditions and their families. Both charities are part of Autism Alliance and recognised the value of each other’s services with a common goal to reach as many people geographically possible within the area.

The charity merger will officially start on the 1st January 2018. The contracts currently held by Autism Concern will be taken over by Autism East Midlands at the end of their current term. Autism Concern will retain its name for Trading Purposes only until this time. The current services are detailed below will still be provided as part of the merger and additional services will be added.

Services include: ADHD Matters, Family Support Services, Support Line, Children & Young People’s service and Training and Awareness.

Families and commissioners have already been contacted and have responded in a positive way with regards to the merger.

Robert Woodford, Chair of Trustees for Autism Concern, comments

Our 25th year became a seminal moment. Not content with letting this charity go backwards, we decided to be proactive. We sought a merger with another charity. We believe that not only will it secure our short-term stability, but more excitingly, a larger organisation will allow us to provide a wider variety of services and greater depth to our offering.

 

Autism East Midlands share the same values we do, and naturally are a good geographic fit. They sit alongside us in the Autism Alliance and have been partnering with us over the past 12 months as we focused on the challenges we faced.

 

Autism East Midlands will help us to continue the tradition we have for excellent service, deep expertise, and an environment our service users, their families and professionals want to be a part of. With a turnover in excess of £13m and a trading surplus, they also offer the financial stability the charity needs and investment opportunity the county can benefit from.

 

For us, the most exciting thing will be that we are able to provide many new services and areas of expertise in the future. This includes a move into adult services, extending and modernising our children’s services offering and improving advice related activity. Whilst we do not know what these will look like right now, we look forward to discussing those in more depth with our members and service users and involving you in the development of these services. However, it should be noted that Autism East Midlands have bent over backwards to work with us. A great sign of their intent. And it must be said a validation of our organisation.

 Jane Howson, Chief Executive of Autism East Midlands, adds

These charities have been providing services in their own areas for 50 years and 25 years respectively. In times of austerity all charities should be looking to minimise back office costs and maximise the benefits for autistic people and their families. In coming together the charities are doing so Autism Concern as a brand will be retained in the Northamptonshire area for the children’s services it has traditionally offered. Autism East Midlands will bring new investment and seek to extend the offer to autistic adults as well as expand the range of options available to young people.

Open Day & Torch Relay Launch

On Tuesday 9th January 2018 both charities hosted an open day to celebrate the merger announcement and offered an opportunity for families to meet members of the team both new and old and to discuss what the merger with Autism East Midlands actually means for them and their children.

Pictured: George Smith,Vice-Chair AEM Trustees; Mary Stanley, Adult Services Quality Assurance Lead; Will Burchell, AEM Director of Development; Jade McDonald, Marketing Assistant; Lesley Lock, Family Support Advisor; Anne Prestwick, Office Administrator; Zoe Tobin, ADHD Family Support Advisor

To mark the charity merger and Autism East Midlands 50th celebrations a Torch Relay will also launch. A celebratory torch which has been created by children from Autism East Midlands Sutherland House School in Nottingham will be passed from service to service covering all regional areas supported by the Autism East Midlands charity throughout the year. The 50th Anniversary relay torch will set off from the Autism Concern open day and mark the celebrations of the merger and the positive step in expanding our services to Northampton families in January 2018 and will finish at Sutherland House School in Nottingham in December 2018.

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The Future of Autism in Northamptonshire Round Table Discussion Minutes

Round Table Discussion & Panel

Kate Holt Trustee – Leads Panel

Bob Fletcher – commission manager for autism local authorities

Amy Hordley – Employment and Disability Service

Lorna Hape – Barrister

John Murray – Jogo Behaviour Support

Eileen Lane – Education – NCC

Proxy Questions

Services

Q – what services will be provided for children with complex needs and challenging behaviour as not currently represented

A – BF – will confirm once in post as not got the say yet

JM – provision has suffered – a lot of cases are about need and vulnerability – but mostly around provision. Asks people to think about coordinating provision. The market place needs coordinating by the NCC.

Q – some parents have their own needs – is there any support for parents?

A – EL -advocacy service – named case workers – will fund independently – check answer????

Q – what ideas on adult and ageing autistic population in Northants

A – BF – adults largest group – no answers – sees roles as consulting with as many people to coordinate sevices. Said expert are in the room and will work with to

Lorna – the children and family act up to age 25 – lot to be done for older people. Feels strongly this area needs to be looked at for support. Lack of provision and options in the market place – needs to be a better understanding of needs and services.

Too many young people being told their isn’t any options.

People need to know up to 25 they are entitled to help under children and families act. If in Special provision – can include training – including independent living skills – skills for life and this needs to be remembered.

Audience member – have been told by NCC no help after school – but this is incorrect.

Audience – parents not getting the right information and advice – some parents are not getting any support. Kids are being left at 18 on their own – because people don’t realise its up to 25.

Audience feedback – 16-19 struggling – or being pushed on to courses that are not suitable.

John Murray – provision is a massive issue – and the coordination isn’t there to help meeting. Can sit in a meeting with 6 professionals and no central coodinating body in the county. There is duplication in some areas, and nothing in others and provision that doesn’t meet needs. Children in the county being let down.

Audience – after the programme – huge gulfs in provision where need bands are too restrictive. Huge gulfs of autistic children left with no provision.

Children with medical needs cant access services because of ratios.

No children feel safe and supported – no clear pathways.

Kate H – offered details of project through other company

Q – if someone doesn’t get diagnosis until 20’s – where does it leave.

A – Lorna – you don’t need a diagnosis to get help – EHG – and it doesn’t matter what age you start.

Not the case for for EHG diagnosis to access help.

Q – ECHP – hit a brick wall – with high functioning but violent – others agreed they were finding themselves being passed around.

A – Lorna – can be social, physical, metal etc – and don’t fit – other issues mean they would qualify. Misinformation from schools.

John Murray – pressures from schools and 6k budget – no coordination and misinformation. If school can meet educational needs – they should.

Schools are getting applications bounced back.

Lorna – applications for assessments – parents can do this as well as schools.

Q – Eileen – can you clarify children don’t need diagnosis – had to wait 2.5 years – now learning you don’t need it – told by NCC and letters told from office that cant apply for funding.

A – Eileen – confirmed you don’t need a diagnosis – as long as has special educational needs. Then they can make an assessment themselves and not just through schools – if school said no – in their professional opinion – you can bypass the schools.

Children are spending time out of school due to lack of advice. Too many layers to go through and then getting misinforamtion.

IAS service (used to be parent partnership) they will write on your behalf and help to get statuary assessment. No awareness throughout the process.

Q – IAS involved – now home education and now not sure what they can do.

A – Suport service within local authority and can provide specialist advice (check with Eileen) Cant provide therapy like cams

Intro – Jane Smith – Speciast support service – home educated

Can – behaviour – environment – sensory – self care – SUPPORT

Cant – provide education

Eileen – team for HOME ED – booklet available

Q – Schools –  do as much as they can – however schools are not informed – and only found out recently that you can access services without a diagnosis

Eileen – will take this back to NCC team – some schools have misinformation – Eileen said to disseminate through the sencos…

Been trying since 2014 and ended up home schooling and doing it herself. It went on for years. Wait times to long – all parents experiencing the same issues.

JM – schools misinterpreting information – they are told until they spend budget of 6 – every child has a price and no point applying for extra help until thats spent.

Its a money led system over a needs based system.

Lorna – Sencos dont understand the difference between NCC policy and law.

IPSE.org.uk

What schools should be doing.

Check with Lorna….

Bob Fletcher – info is available but not all to the people who need them. Competing services who don’t share information. This has got to be coordinated with all interested parties. Nothing is working – we can ask one person to make it work. How we make it work is about events and consultsation.

As a collective – we are not the only group receiving what we should do.

Only when things are challenged can changes be made.

Q – why is it so hard to apply for funding from council – letters are different and so much conflicting information.

Eileen – clarified that when statuary assemsnets required – addiotnal needs required to consider undertaking assessment

Sencos following procedures – waiting list for diagnosis – months to years.

Not aware where diagnosis affects assessment

Q – is there a minimum age for going on the list?

A – no –

Q – aware that depending on where you live – depends on what help you get.

A – not aware this is the case – but parents expeirteinces say otherwise

Q – gives info to schools where they don’t know – give to the senco – they cant say no when its there.

Q – do parents want a diagnosis? Bob

A – only if it helps – as parents experiences are feeling torn between pushing for diagnosis in order to get help

John Murray – again – everything needs coordinating – parents want to know that everything

Parents spend more time fighting rather than being a family

Q – needs for deaf and autistic child none available

A – centre in Birmingham – deaf cams

Q – nothing changed in 15 years apart from fighting for help. Never ending fight for help. Children are going to school – almost being tortured by their experiences. Schools are not coping.

Q – people not turning up for assessments – leading to family issues – downward spiral.

Support gets promised and nothing happens – what will happen to our children.

This is leading to bullying.

A – Bob – things are not working within the pathway –

Q – parents dont know where to go. More experiences for children. Childrens voices need hearing – we all need to learn together.

Kate Holt – please email all questions to Autism Concern and we will try and find the answers and we are essential to working together.

Q – can we have a forum?

A – Bob will set up a forum. Children’s voices need hearing. Kate will take this back.

Q – early years provider – everyone learning sign language – early years – very positive – then after primary – it all disappears in primary and secondary.

Q – is that a database so everyone knows? A simple system?

A – Bob – need a simple single resource – one website

Bob- I am interested in finding solutions and will nit make promises – but without making excuses – firm belief that money doesn’t solve anything. Too much money at the wrong targets. When their isn’t money – creativity takes over. Bob will listen and work with you – cant solve everything but will coordinate.

Kate Holt thanked everyone

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Open Hours

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Is a ‘Traditional’ Christmas right for your child?

Every December (let’s face it from October onwards in some cases) our environment begins to change. There are lots of odd smells, noises and lights everywhere. People begin to wear funny clothing and kiss each other under sprigs of white berries. Shops are more crowded than usual, we drink our wine warm and add spices to everything. Every radio station plays the same set of songs and cold white stuff falls from the sky.

Just think how overwhelming that would be if you weren’t used to Christmas. For a child with Autism the world can feel very much like that over the festive period. All of these customs are referred to as ‘Traditional’ but just because society sees them as that doesn’t mean they have to be everyone’s ‘traditions’. Why not make your own Christmas traditions to suit your family, your child?

Here are some of our tips for making this Christmas more autism friendly.

Planning Ahead

  • Social Stories are a great way of prepping your child for upcoming events.
  • Speak to your child, find out what they think of Christmas. Ask them what they love and what they would change. We have a couple of fun activities below for encouraging interaction.
  • Meal planning. If mealtimes are particularly worrying for your child discuss what they would like to eat and get them involved in the planning. Drawing place settings or name tags are great activities too.

Work Around Your Child’s Routine

  • Stick to usual meal times if possible. Often the day can be a bit muddled at Christmas; how many of us have Christmas dinner at 2pm and don’t eat again until early evening? Try to plan around your child’s usual routine where possible.
  • Allow your child to wake up when they do most days. The morning could start stressfully by waking them too early or trying to force a lie in just because it is Christmas. Trust their body clock.
  • Keep bedtime routine the same. If bath, book, bed is your child’s routine then try to stick to that. Allow them that time to wind down after a busy day.

Make Tweaks

  • Not every family tradition has to be the same, do what works for you.
  • When it comes to eating out, be it an event or gathering, it is a good idea to take food you know your child will eat, rather than expecting them to eat ‘traditional’ xmas foods when there are lots of other stresses going on.
  • If your child doesn’t want Christmas dinner or can’t cope with sitting at the table for the whole meal that is ok too.
  • ‘Traditional’ festive clothing i.e jumpers, hats etc. can be uncomfortable for a child with sensory issues. If your child is more comfortable in their regular clothes just go with what makes them happy.
  • Christmas decorations are beautiful but sometimes all those flashing lights and funny textures (tinsel, glitter etc) can be a bit overwhelming. Perhaps consider phasing them in one day at a time so that they don’t all just arrive in one go. Another option is to have a tree but with minimal decorations and no lights if that helps, or keep decorations and Christmas excitement to one room rather than having it spread through the whole house.

Download and print the activity sheets:

My Christmas Wish List (1) 

My Christmas Alphabet

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Open Day 9th January 2018

Do you have a child diagnosed with Autism or ADHD?

If so, we would like to invite you to an open day on January 9th at Kings Park Conference Centre. At this event you will have the opportunity to meet members of the team both new and old and to discuss what the merger with Autism East Midlands actually means for you and your children.

We will be holding 3 sessions throughout the day;

10.00 – 12.00

13:00 – 15:00

19:00– 21:00

We have chosen these times and this location to enable as many people as possible to attend and the invitation extends to people from across the county.

Format of the sessions will be: Refreshments & Registration, Introduction  Vision Moving Forward & Question & Answer session.

Before this event, we would like to get your children’s views on how they would like to shape services for the coming year. From this feedback a series of events and days out will be arranged, moving forward all activities will be open and accessible to all children with a diagnosis of Autism or ADHD.

We understand that what children want and what parents want and need, can be very different and so can you, as a parent please let us know below what you would like available, including times and days.

Please click on the below link and indicate which session you would like to attend and give your input. Please could all forms be returned to us by 20th December.

Open Day 9th January 2018

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Short Breaks Consultation Survey Closes Tomorrow!

Short Breaks Consultation

Over 400 people have told the Commissioners what they think of Short Breaks and what they would like to see – Consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday 6th December 2017. 

How can you still get involved?
All planned open meetings have now taken place. You can still have a say by completing the online survey on the Northamptonshire County Council Consultation Register page
http://www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/councilservices/council-and-democracy/have-your-say/Pages/current-consultations.aspx

If you prefer to complete in hard copy, the survey can be downloaded and printed from the site, completed and posted to:-
C/O Susan Connor, Commissioning and Strategy Team, Northamptonshire County Council,
One Angel Square, Angel Street, Northampton, NN1 1ED.

For anyone requiring practical support  in completing the survey, contact IASS on 01604 364772

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Come to our Coffee Morning!

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AUTISM CONCERN UPDATE – CHILDREN’S SERVICES

AUTISM CONCERN UPDATE – CHILDRENS SERVICES

 

We are delighted to announce that following the AGM last week, it was unanimously agreed by the membership that Autism Concern would be merging with Autism East Midlands from the 1st January 2018.  Not only does this secure our short term stability and long term aspirations, but it also gives us an even greater level of credibility at this time of change.  Whilst we will be looking to extend our services beyond what we currently do, even looking to move into the adult market, we realise that the vast majority of users access our children’s services at present.

 

We are pleased to announce that Dawn Franklin, who currently heads up children’s services at Autism East Midlands, will now be including Autism Concern within her role effective immediately.  Dawn has been responsible for introducing some innovative and award winning ideas which we are incredibly excited about seeing introduced for the children of this county.  Moreover she is already talking about how we can expand, develop, improve and modernise our current offering whilst including even greater numbers.  As a result her and Mary Stanley (senior manager for adult services at Autism East Midlands and joint acting MD of Autism Concern) have several meetings planned with the Local Authority commissioners in order to expand upon these ideas and lend their expertise to the current consultation process.

 

We need to let it be known that Wendy Hunter, our current Operations Manager, has decided to take on another role outside of the organisation.  We are proud to say that Wendy was in fact headhunted, which we take as a validation of the quality and high regard Autism Concern is held in.   She will be working in a senior role within Autism in the county, but leaves us still being a supporter and advocate of Autism Concern.  We are grateful to her for the work she has done for us and look forward to continuing the relationship albeit in a different capacity.

 

This means that there is a fresh opportunity for us to expand the team, and we will be advertising for a new role soon.  The position will be a little different – we have modernised it and made it more hands on, plus, taking direction from Dawn, they will have the opportunity to work more closely with the children and families we support within the community.

 

Our existing services, namely the help and advice and ADHD Matters activities will continue to operate as they are, with Lesley, Cindy and Zoe continuing to do a great job.  Early into next year we will look at how we can develop these also.

 

To clarify – there have not been nor will there be any redundancies caused by this merger.  In fact we want to grow the team and we are confident that anyone who joins us will be doing so at the most exciting time for the children’s services.  We now have more experience, more reach and more resources than at any other time in our 25 year history.

 

We will continue to work with our community and update you as and when we have more news.  But please do feel free to drop anyone in the office an email, pick up the phone or pop in to see us.  We are all about making this charity inclusive, but we do need your support in order for us to deliver a great service to those with Autistic Spectrum Conditions and their families.

 

From The Board of Trustees on behalf of Autism Concern

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The Future of Autism in Northamptonshire – 2nd November 2017

The Future of Autism in Northamptonshire is a Round Table Discussion and Annual Showcase. Sharing our success as a charity over the past 12 months and our plans to continue to support the autism community in Northampton into 2018 and beyond.

We hope you will join us and welcome this opportunity to learn more about the help we provide in the community, to both children and their parents. As well as sharing our successes we invite you to put your questions to our panel of experts as part of our round table discussion. We have a great line up already with more still to add.

The Kings Park Conference Centre is a great backdrop for this event and we hope you will join us afterwards for a buffet lunch and a chance to meet our team if you haven’t had the pleasure already. Please feel free to reserve your place via the link below and we hope to see you there!

thefutureofautism.eventbrite.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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