AFTER more than a year in the planning, a Worthing woman has set up a branch of the National Autistic Society.
Clare Greaves, whose son Joseph has the condition, was asked to take on the role by the society as she was one of the most active fund-raisers in the town, and she set about doing so at the end of last year.
She officially launched the branch at St John’s Church hall in Ripley Road, Worthing, on Friday (December 2), and already has more than 120 families signed up as members.
Clare, 35, of Harrow Road, said: “The aim is we want to be a support group for the parents and children, and it’s a way of making friendships.
“You can feel quite alone as a parent of an autistic child. When you get diagnosed, all your friends have children without autism, and you can feel left out because your child is doing different things to the other children.
“We found there isn’t much support for you, and this way parents can come along and get advice and they know we’ve all been through the same thing.”
Joseph, eight, was diagnosed with autism when he was two and since then Clare and her family have done various fund-raising events for the charity.
Every year, they organised a sponsored Train Walk, along Worthing seafront, as well as other events. The NAS branch in Worthing will be an extension of that work, while also providing support and friendship.
Autism is categorised as a life-long developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them.
It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways. Asperger syndrome is also a form of autism.
Recognising this, Clare has already organised a monthly cinema club for the group, where children with autism and their families can go to a special screening as well as a monthly Lego play session.
She said: “With the cinema club at the Dome, you don’t have to worry if the children talk or make noise, which makes it more relaxing.
“As for the Lego, I don’t know a child that doesn’t like Lego, and autistic children especially seem to like it. By having the club the children can still feel like they belong to a group and get a chance to play with other children.”
For more information about the Worthing NAS branch, or to join, call Clare on 07435 784999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org