Worthing mum sets up autistm support group

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SUPPORTING the parents of children with autism is the aim of a group set up by one Worthing mum.

Clare Greaves said there is a distinct lack of support for parents of children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders, so she wanted to set up S.P.A.C.E. to give them a place to ask questions and get support and information.

The group, which stands for Supporting Parents with Autistic Children Equally, meets on the first and third Friday of every month, at St Matthew’s Church in Tarring Road, from 9.30-11.30am.

Clare, whose seven-year-old son Joseph has autism, said: “There wasn’t really anywhere for people to go once their child had been diagnosed with autism.

“Our experience was that you literally get told your son has autism, he may never be able to talk or be out of nappies, and that they’ll see you next year for your next appointment.”

She added: “Originally, I set up the group when Joseph was about two, as a place to get support, but when our children left nursery it kind of tailed off.

“So, about two months ago, I set it up again and so far, we have about 70 members.”

Clare, 34, of Harrow Road, said response to the group has been good, with parents with children ranging in age from two to 14 coming to meetings.

They have also gone on a social outing to Coombes Farm, Lancing, and next month are heading to Legoland.

Clare said: “S.P.A.C.E. is there to help people with the next few steps after diagnosis. There are lots of things they may not know about, such as what financial help is available, and how to make sure their child gets the help they need at school.

“When you get home from the hospital, at the moment you’re just expected to pick yourself up and get on with it, but we can provide support.

“There are so many different spectrums of autism – some children are high-functioning and can go to mainstream school, while others will never talk and will need lots of support – we can talk about what is out there to help parents.”

For more information about the group, call Clare on 07766 525909, email sussexspace@btinternet.com or visit the group’s Facebook page Facebook.com/S.P.A.C.E.

-For the third year running, Clare is organising a seafront Trainwalk, to raise money for the National Autistic Society.

The two-mile sponsored walk is taking place on Sunday, June 5, at 1pm, starting from Worthing Pier and going to Sea Lane Café. The walking group will stop half-way for strawberries at Clare’s beach hut. All the money will go towards the society’s work in helping children like Joseph, who attends Lyndhurst First School and will start at Herons Dale School in Shoreham in September.

For more information or to take part, call Clare on the number above, or visit www.trainwalk.org.uk