Afternoon Tea for AC!

Autism Concern is celebrating its 25th birthday – launching a year of celebrations and fundraising to ensure the charity can continue our vital support for families. We are inviting you all to celebrate with us by hosting a Jubilee Tea Party and to have Afternoon Tea for AC!

Throughout the month of July 2017 we are hoping you will join us by holding your own tea party in aid of Autism Concern. Not only are these tea parties a great way to bring people together but a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders and raise money to help the thousands of people who form Northamptonshire’s autism community.

By hosting a party you help us to fund, sustain and create new schemes for your local community into our 26th year and beyond.

Below are some ideas for hosting your own party and how to get involved. You will find all the resources you need to put together your own unique party here.AT-Logo-RGB-72dpi-transparent (3)

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Our Community – Meet Rob Ambidge

As part of our ongoing Jubilee celebrations we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the people we have worked with and helped over the last 25 years at Autism Concern. Our aim is to provide an insight into the lives of those affected by autism spectrum disorders.

We are so proud of the support we are able to provide to these people and their families. These are their stories.

Rob Ambidge

Name: Rob Ambidge
Age: 30

Job title/Education:

Mature Student at University studying BA Photography (former retail employee and residential home cleaner)

Hobbies and interests:

This can sometimes be a difficult question to answer, as I often go through phases of interests. Ranging from a few days, to several years. Currently though, the main recreational joys include extracurricular photography, learning new skills based around photography, listening to music, watching things on Amazon Prime (been working my way through The X-Files from season 1), and since starting at university last year, I have been developing my selflessness into a useful skill with volunteering as a Course Rep and getting further involved in the Students Union.

When were you diagnosed and what led to your diagnosis?

I was only diagnosed at the ripe old age of 25. This was only after a 4 year battle (with both myself and medical professionals) of fighting a worsening of anxiety and depression. It seems to have started to become a problem when I started to realise how hard I was finding it to keep up with making new friends at work after people kept leaving to either go to university, or found themselves new jobs. The realisation of being “left behind” playing on my mind started to eat away at me, and rather than just being occasional bouts of mild depression and infrequent social withdrawal, they both started to become daily barriers. I first got diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder (aka Social Phobia) at 21, which progressed to adding mild depression (and medication) a few months later. After not being happy with the diagnosis (talking to people on web forums and reading more about Social Phobia began uncovering holes in the diagnosis), and an ever increasing lowering of my mood, a brief moment (several weeks) under the supervision of the crisis team and then a couple of years of unsuccessful “therapy”, it was a recommendation to visit a particular GP (one I had yet to try) that finally listened to me properly and suggested the possibility of Aspergers. It was then this GP that got me on track to see a specialist who, after a few months of “testing,” gave me my diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. It was long winded, and only really down to my own persistence that I got to that stage.

What problems have you faced in the past due to being on the autism spectrum?

Before diagnosis, I never really had any problems. Signs were there, but with the lack of negative behaviour, they were just seen as “quirks”. I was a massive science fan and was always trying to acquire more books and more knowledge as a child. My Christmas lists were organised nicely, with requests of educational gifts, complete with catalog page numbers and prices (just in case Santa had to choose according to budget). My friendship group is most likely one of the greatest reasons why only the positive aspects of Aspergers showed through. They didn’t care if I was “weird”. To them, that’s what made me who they loved to be around. Shortly before diagnosis and onwards, I obviously don’t have that structure of school or my school friends any more, and that’s when the problems came through. Since “forgetting how to ride my bike” (unlike riding a bicycle, it would appear social skills and coping mechanisms can be forgotten), I’ve found it harder and harder to cope in large crowds (shopping on a Saturday is like a nightmare gone worse), my misophonia (hatred of sounds) seems to have gotten worse, I feel completely drained of energy the day after a social occasion (like being hungover, but doesn’t require alcohol), trying to get certain “allowances” at work can be difficult (requesting to be able to focus on one task I’m good at, rather than chopping and changing and doing some jobs that may be highly challenging due to my difficulties (though that could vary day-to-day how difficult something might be)) and due to the way that I almost have to “translate” some things people say, and with how humour is important to my coping, I sometimes get in trouble for inappropriately laughing or making jokes at insensitive times because my brain makes abstract links between what is said (rather than implied) etc. Though, luckily, I can control the outbursts a lot better around people I don’t know, and the people that do know me, know that it’s not intended to be hurtful and is actually there to help me cope and cheer others up, too.

How Autism Concern have helped you or where did you hear of AC?

I am yet to require any help from Autism Concern so far, partly out of coping so well when I’m “on my feet” and partly out of not actually knowing about them until I started Uni and one of the Societies ran a fundraiser for Autism Concern. But I do hope to build a healthy two way relationship with the charity in the years to come now that I have settled in at university.

Moving towards the future what are your goals and aspirations?

Breaking away from my retail origins, I would like to work towards making a name for myself as a photographer. Though, I am still finding my true strengths and weaknesses within the art (and science) of photography, it is definitely an area I would love to see myself in. If I don’t make it as a creative, then I would definitely love to work in a position where I can teach or assist others in reaching their full potential. Especially if they were to come from a discouraging background (mental health, disabilities etc where they think they can’t achieve the same way as statistically average people [my way of saying “normal”]). Who knows? I might even be able to combine the two as a therapeutic practice?! If I get to go to Japan for a paid assignment, I’ll drop everything and ask when I’m leaving!

What made you decide to sign up to the abseil?

I’d like to say that I signed up to abseil for purely selfless reasons, but in reality, I haven’t done it since I was a Cub Scout, many many years ago and really wanted to abseil again! Admittedly, it wasn’t from that height, but why wouldn’t I enjoy it? I will admit though, that the fact it is a fund raising opportunity for a charity that works in a field so close to my heart was a massive boost from “I’d love to do that” but not actually go through with it for anxiety/confidence/belief reasons to “HELL YEAH!! SIGN ME UP!!”. It was also partly my Societies former President and founder, Stephanie Nixon, who introduced me to AC, the fundraiser, and providing me the opportunity to spread my wings (though, I’m hoping I won’t need wings on the day).



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The Boudiccae – by Dr Andrew N. Williams

‘The Boudiccae’ is a project created originally as a 9 voiced stageplay and now made by RIG Film Productions as a short film using 4 of the original voices. Composed of interlocking monologues of real life Northamptonshire (UK) mothers who have children with special needs.

It encapsulates what are major child health issues today; This includes managing chronic evolving complex disability, palliative care, child adoption, transition to adult services and acceptance of children with complex needs by their non-disabled peers.

The boudiccae poster

‘The Boudiccae’  highlights the families’ perspective and what they encounter when raising a child with complex health needs in the UK today.

Through Charlie we see a teenager with complex needs face the challenges of adult life as she dreams of becoming a wheelchair actress.

This film was created to teach compassion in the light of the Francis Report (2013). Its target audience is trainee healthcare professionals (medical, nursing, health visiting) whose limited experience of life means they have little to draw upon when faced for the first time with children with complex needs and their families.

Opportunities to meet the real mothers and actors behind ‘The Boudiccae’ can be made through the email below

Please email to discuss further.

Dr Andrew N. Williams,

Consultant community paediatrician

WellChild 2015 Doctor Award Winner

Email address    [email protected]


The film was produced by RIG Film Productions. The script was devised by Andrew N. Williams and the screenplay written by Andrew N. Williams and Darren White. The director is Darren White.

Northampton General Hospital Charitable Funds, Waitrose Community Fund (2 appeals), the Virtual Academic Unit and an anonymous donor funded the film.

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Adrenaline Junkies…read on!

Charity Abseil for Autism Concern on 1st July 2017 in Northampton.

Help us celebrate our Jubilee by participating in our fundraising abseil. Do something amazing and take on the challenge of abseiling down Northampton’s iconic Lift Tower building, standing at 418 feet – and at the same time raise valuable funds for a local charity.

You don’t need any previous experience and no training is required.

Please contact Gary on 01604 239404 or email [email protected] for more information.

abseil 17 gary

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‘Monster Ball’ supporting Autism Concern

Autism Concern is delighted to be one of the charities supported by the Monster Charity Ball on Friday 13th October 2017. Previous Balls have provided nights packed with fun and entertainment and we are sure that this year will be no different. Whether you come alone, in a couple or with a table of friends you are sure to have a memorable evening. Full details of how to buy tickets are included in the poster below.

BALL poster 2017


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UK’s second largest logistics company raises money for Autism Concern

XPO Logistics cheque presentation R-L AC reps being presented with cheque from Shaun Waring, XPO Logistics

The UK’s second largest transportation and logistics company has raised over £700 for local charity, Autism Concern.

Staff from the XPO Logistics’ Carlsberg depot in Swan Valley, Northampton organised and ran a number of fundraising initiatives for Autism Concern last year ahead of the charity’s 25th jubilee year celebrations which began in January.   Various raffles and canteen collection boxes were among the fundraisers, as well as a 20/20 cricket match held at Northampton Saints Cricket Club last July, which involved a play-off between XPO Logistics staff teams and raised over £200 alone.
The final total amounted to £737.26 over 2016, and a cheque was recently presented to staff at Autism Concern as a special jubilee anniversary gift.

Shaun Waring is a member of XPO Logistics’ Charity Committee.  He said: “We would like to thank Autism Concern very much for giving XPO colleagues the opportunity to support a worthy charity, how quick a year has gone by. Everyone at the XPO Logistics Carlsberg contract would like to wish Autism Concern good luck for the future and in all they commit to over the coming year during their jubilee celebrations.”

Julia Hardcastle, managing director of Autism Concern, added: “We are absolutely delighted to have support from such a well-known international logistics company and are very grateful to the members of staff who took part in the various fundraising activities to make up this substantial donation.

“The contribution has come as we continue our jubilee anniversary celebrations and it will go towards improving our services for children, including our dedicated support line, targeted training for parents, information and drop-in sessions and support for schools.”

Also to mark its quarter century, Autism Concern has launched a new jubilee year fundraising campaign, aiming to raise £25,000. Three levels of giving have been established:


  • Platinum Jubilee donor: £2,500 a year or £220 a month via Direct Debit
  • Gold Jubilee donor: £1,200 a year or £100 a month via Direct Debit
  • Silver Jubilee donor: £300 a year or £25 a month via Direct Debit


There are lots of ways you can get involved in Autism Concern’s Jubilee year:

  • Follow the charity on Twitter or Facebook and post a happy birthday message of support
  • Check out the charity’s website, where regular stories about families supported by the charity, will be posted.
  • Become a jubilee donor and support this charity during its 25th


Donate here: or text ACIS25 £(up to £10 ) to 70070.


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Launching our 25th year Jubilee celebrations

Autism Concern is celebrating its 25th birthday – launching a year of celebrations and fundraising to ensure the charity can continue to support families for decades to come.

Autism Concern owes its beginnings to 1992, when a small group of parents of children with autism started to meet regularly to share their experiences and discuss the difficulties they experienced in trying to find suitable services for their children.

Today our charity offers services for children from five into their teenage years, runs a dedicated support line, play schemes, delivers targeted training for parents, information sessions in libraries, drop-in sessions, supports schools and acts as the voice of the autism community.

Julia Hardcastle, managing director of Autism Concern, added: “Back in the early 1990s autism was not widely recognised or understood and so a small group of parents decided that they would create a charity to change this. That was 25 years ago and today we are a lifeline for families, a resource for professionals and we help to shape policy at the very highest level , working across all parts of Northamptonshire.

“A very happy jubilee birthday to everyone who works for, with and is supported by Autism Concern. Our Jubilee year gives us the perfect opportunity to raise funds and awareness and ensure we deliver our mission which is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.”

To mark our quarter century Autism Concern has launched a new jubilee year fundraising campaign and, aiming to raise £25,000 in its 25th year, has established three levels of giving:

  • Platinum Jubilee donor: £2,500 a year or £220 a month via Direct Debit
  • Gold Jubilee donor: £1,200 a year or £100 a month via Direct Debit
  • Silver Jubilee donor: £300 a year or £25 a month via Direct Debit

Lending his support to the event is Michael Ellis MP: “Autism Concern has done and continues to do excellent work helping children and young people affected by autism in Northamptonshire.

“The support that they have provided over the past 25 years has been hugely helpful to parents and carers alike. There are many thousands of people over the past quarter of a century who have been supported, and society is so much better informed as a result of Autism Concern’s work. I would like to thank them for all they do and wish them all the very best for their next quarter of a century supporting those affected by autism in this country.”

There are lots of ways you can get involved in Autism Concern’s Jubilee year:

  • Follow the charity on Twitter or Facebook and post a happy birthday message of support
  • Check out the charity’s website, where regular stories about families supported by the charity, will be posted.
  • Become a jubilee donor and support this charity during its 25th year.

To become a Jubilee Donor please download our levels of giving document by clicking here: Jubilee year – levels of giving

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It’s our birthday soon – Jubilee celebrations planned

With a year of Jubilee celebrations set to be launched in January 2017 we take a moment to look back at our history – and reflect on how our charity was first founded …
Autism Concern began in the early nineties, with a small group of parents of children with autism who met regularly to share their experiences and discuss the difficulties they experienced in trying to find suitable services for their children.
At this time, autism was not widely recognised or understood and so the parents decided that they would create a charity that provided services for children with autism – this is where Autism Concern (formerly known as the Northamptonshire Society for Autism (NSA) began.
Brian Dunne, Honorary Vice President of Autism Concern and a founding trustee, said: “The mission of Autism Concern is and has always been to promote the care, treatment and education of children and adults with autism and to secure for them provision that meets their needs. I am proud to have been involved in such a wonderful charity, that provides invaluable and much needed services to those affected by autism.”
Read all about our 25 years of history by clicking HERE.
To become a Jubilee supporter and donate to this essential charity please go to our Just Giving page HERE.
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Join our shopping and wellbeing event at Boots, Northampton

A wellbeing and shopping event is being organised by local charity Autism Concern and the team at Northampton town centre’s Boots – exclusively for people affected by and living with autism.

On Wednesday, 16th November from 6pm to 8pm the Boots Grosvenor Centre store will be opening its doors to people of all ages who are on the autistic spectrum, their families and carers.

The wellbeing event is designed to be an ideal opportunity for families to get their Christmas shopping started early.

Julia Hardcastle, managing director of Autism Concern, added: “Many of our families find Christmas shopping extremely stressful – the noise, the hustle and bustle, the lack of structure, all these things can be very unsettling and even traumatic for people on the autistic spectrum.

“This will be a calm, supportive but also fun evening, packed with activities and demonstrations and the chance for people to find out more about autism and how we as a charity can offer support.”

Lending his support to the event is Michael Ellis MP: “This is an excellent example of a local business and charity joining forces to support and cater for people of all ages on the autistic spectrum, many of whom find shopping a stressful and anxious experience. I congratulate Autism Concern on this carefully designed event which will make Christmas shopping that little bit easier for all members of our community.”

Guests at this exclusive event will be able to enjoy a range of activities including free make up demonstrations and advice on products. There will be advice available on personal hygiene and other teenage topics, pharmacy and medication information and healthy eating and wellbeing guidance.

Autism Concern’s advisors will also be attending the evening and will be available to offer information about the charity and the ways in which they can help those with autism and their families.

red bauble black writing
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Grow Your Tenner!


Grow Your Tenner 2016 is now live!

DCMS LogoLocal Giving are now matching one-time donations by up to £10 and monthly donations up to £10 a month for the first 3 months.

Thanks to the Office for Civil Society, the total match fund for this year’s Grow Your Tenner is now £345,000! This means each charity will have the chance to benefit from up to £2,500 of match funding: £1,000 from one-time donations and £1,500 from Direct Debits.

Grow Your Tenner has raised over £5 million for local charities and community groups across the UK over the last five years. This year Local Giving will be matching one-time donations made to Localgiving members by up to £10 and regular monthly donations by up to £10 a month for the first three months.

Regular donations are hugely important for small local charities – helping them to stabilise their finances and plan for the future. That’s why this year we’re encouraging more people to set up a Direct Debit to a cause they care about.
Autism Concern – a countywide charity meeting local need with local knowledge.

Active for over 24 years, our services today have a direct impact on hundreds of families throughout the county, we are the voice for autism in Northamptonshire. Our aim is to provide a range of services to support the hands on carers of those with an Autistic Spectrum condition and their families.

Why the community needs us

Autism Concern provides a range of services to support this aim: Information, Advice & Guidance for parents, professionals & those with a diagnosis. Children & Young People services: care, learning, development & social activity programmes for children and young people on the Spectrum giving them a change to learn through play and interaction in a caring environment. Training and Awareness: courses, conference, talks & presentations for parents, carers, professionals & volunteer recruitment.

Our impact on the community

Over 900 contacts from parents, carers and professionals requesting help, advice and information in the last 12 months. 230 families access our Children and Young People Activity Days in the last 12 months.

To Grow your tenner with Autism Concern, please CLICK HERE

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