A KIRTON couple have criticised what they call the ‘appalling lack of support’ for families of children with autism in the Boston area.
Sharon and Neil Walters set up a local support group Special Friends for Special Needs a year ago to fill the void and give help and advice to concerned parents.
“It’s outrageous just how little help there is for parents of children with autism,” said Sharon.
“For a parent with an autistic child, it seems like there’s no help around here.
“Local paediatricians are good with diagnoses but I think the lack of after-care for dealing with the condition is an issue, as when a child has autism it affects the whole family.”
Autism is a disability that affects the way people interact and communicate with others.
The couple said some of their members were upset that when their children were diagnosed with autism, all they received was a letter from the paediatrician confirming the diagnosis – and some leaflets.
Sharon said: “As a parent, it’s devastating to be told your child is diagnosed with a life-long condition and you go through a lot of guilt, asking if there was something you did wrong.”
The couple said they feel more should be done following a diagnosis, to offer referrals and advice on where families can get support.
Special Friends for Special Needs now offers support for families of children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger Syndrome and other development disorders. It currently has about 30 members in Boston and the surrounding areas.
Neil said: “Through our group we can offer one-to-one help and advice and are always on the end of the phone. Our aim is to get people on the right track to make their lives a little easier.”
The group holds a monthly get together for their members where children and their families affected with the conditions are invited to a special bowling night at Boston Bowl. This is held on the first Thursday of the month.
“As a group we can help people answer questions they might have,” said Sharon.
“We are not experts but our seven-year-old daughter Demi-Lee, who diagnosed aged two with autism, Asperger’s and AHDH, has given us five years’ experience in dealing with those disorders.”
Neil added: “We want to pass on what we have learnt to parents in the area and let people know we are here to offer support – we are a non-profit group and just keen to help others in a similar situation.”
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