Autism Support

Parents and carers of children registered with a GP surgery in the Berkshire West NHS area (Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire) who have an autism diagnosis or are on the NHS waiting list for a Berkshire CAMHS autism assessment can benefit from the support services detailed below.

  • If you would like to register an interest in attending any of these evidence-based autism workshops or courses, or have any questions, please complete our online referral form, email contact@autismberkshire.org.uk or call 01189 594 594 (option 1) and leave a voicemail message. If a booking link for a workshop is shown, you can register yourself to attend.
  • If you are a health, education or social care professional who supports autistic children and young people and their families and you want to make a referral to the service, please click here for our referral form for professionals.

Helpline

Advice about support for families of autistic children and young people and one-to-ne advice sessions is available by emailing contact@autismberkshire.org.uk or calling 01189 594 594 (option 1). Also provides information about Autism Berkshire’s other services. Click here for more details.

Autism advice workshops

The full range of online workshops and courses available is as follows – we recommend that parents and carers new to autism attend all three of the workshops about Understanding More About Autism, Sensory Differences and Supporting Behaviour, as the topics covered complement each other.

All these workshops take place online between 10am and 11.30am.

Understanding More About Autism: This workshop is for parents and carers who are new to autism or who want to update their existing knowledge. It explores the key elements of autism and introduces the concepts of sensory differences, executive functioning, emotional regulation and masking. It is a great introduction to our range of autism advice workshops. Those attending will receive information to keep for future reference.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Wednesday, April 24.

Sensory Differences: A two-part interactive workshop which looks at the sensory processing differences and difficulties which are thought to affect at least 80% of autistic people. Session 1 looks at how we all react to the sensory world around us and how this might be different for our autistic children. Building on this information, Session 2 looks at things you can do to help your child, and everyone is encouraged to share their own experiences. This workshop is useful in understanding why our children sometimes behave in ways that surprise or challenge us. Those attending will receive information to keep for future reference.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Part 1, Wednesday, May 1, Part 2, Wednesday, May 8.

Supporting Behaviour: A two-part interactive online workshop which aims to help parents to identify the reasons behind their child’s behaviour and to understand it as a sign of emotional distress. Session 1 explores different types of physical, verbal and emotional behaviour, and discusses how autistic meltdowns/shutdowns are different to age-appropriate behaviour. In Session 2, we’ll look at the strategies you can use to help your child to feel distressed less often and reduce the impact on the whole family. Parents usually find it helpful to have attended Understanding More About Autism and Sensory Differences before doing this workshop. Those attending will receive information to keep for future reference.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Part 1, Wednesday, June 5, Part 2, Wednesday, June 12.

Eating & Mealtime Challenges: Issues eating a wide range of foods are common in autistic children and young people. This workshop for parents and carers, with Autism Berkshire trainers, discusses the factors that underlie food refusal, some tips to help encourage new food choices and where to get specialist advice and support.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Wednesday, May 15.

Emotional Regulation: Looks at strategies designed to help parents and carers to support their child to develop their ability to manage their emotional response to challenging situations, and how to use resources such as Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations. To gain the most from this workshop, which is led by Autism Berkshire trainers, we recommend that parents should first attend the initial series of autism advice workshops. The strategies explored are most suitable for parents of verbal children aged 5 and above.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Wednesday, June 19.

Workshops for Parents and Carers of Autistic Teenagers

This programme of five evidence-based autism advice workshops, developed by Autism Berkshire’s family support team, provides tailored information and support for the parents and carers of autistic children and young people aged 11 to 18, whether they have a diagnosis or are waiting for a Berkshire CAMHS assessment, and who are in mainstream education or home-educated and do not have learning disabilities.

We recommend that parents and carers attend all the sessions, as the topics covered complement each other.

Autism & Teenagers: This workshop looks at the challenges of being autistic in adolescence, including maturing behaviour and developing independence, as well as puberty and sexuality.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Friday, May 10.

Anxiety in Teenagers: This workshop considers why anxiety is so prevalent in autistic teenagers and the importance of self-esteem and resilience, and looks at strategies to support emotional regulation.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Friday, May 17.

Teenagers & Social Situations: This workshop focuses on the social situations autistic teenagers face at school, at home and online. It discusses how to support them to develop an understanding of other people, how to find and make friends, and the part that social media plays in their lives.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Friday, June 7.

Autism & Mainstream Secondary Schools: Many autistic teenagers find the mainstream school environment challenging. The workshop looks at the legislation around support at school and the opportunities and limitations of potential support strategies. Parents and carers will be encouraged to share ideas that have helped their child and may help others in similar circumstances.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Friday, June 14.

Mental Health & Social Struggles of Autistic Teenagers

This workshop is led by Sarah O’Brien, the author of So I’m Autistic: An Introduction to Autism for Young Adults and Late Teens and an engagement and co-production specialist. She was diagnosed autistic at the age of 18. In this workshop she considers the challenges of adolescence and the impact that this has on young people’s mental health.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Friday, June 21.

Follow-on workshops

Sleep Difficulties: This workshop for parents and carers, with trainers from Parenting Special Children, covers autistic and ADHD young children’s sleep cycles and sleep needs, the reasons behind night settling and night waking, strategies to help parents and carers feel less stressed when sleep training a child, and parenting strategies for settling a child to sleep and staying asleep.

Forthcoming workshops:

  • Tuesday, May 14, 7pm to 9pm – click here to register.

Transition to Adulthood: The aim of this workshop is to help the parents and carers of autistic and ADHD young people to navigate the transition to adulthood and to support their young people (aged 15 to 25), with knowledge, skills and confidence.

Forthcoming Transition to Adulthood workshops:

  • To be advised

Children and young people whose families are registered with a GP surgery in the Berkshire West NHS area – click here for a list – and who have an autism diagnosis or are on the waiting list for a assessment can benefit from the following support services:

Social Interaction Groups

A six-week course, in small groups, for children and young people aged 8 to 13 who are in mainstream education, and already have an autism and/or ADHD diagnosis or are on the Berkshire CAMHS waiting list for assessment.

The course aims to develop the confidence and emotional wellbeing of children and young people through meeting their peers and exploring the social world in a friendly and supportive setting. It looks at topics including knowing ourselves, developing and maintaining friendships, self-esteem, independence and self-advocacy.

Sessions take place on Mondays after school, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm at Tilehurst Youth and Community Centre, in The Triangle.

Forthcoming courses:

  • Mondays April 15, 22 & 29 and May 13 & 20
  • Mondays June 3, 10, 17 & 24 and July 1 & 8.

Tailored Interventions

These are based on individual need and are available for families of autistic children, aged five to seven, before or after diagnosis.

All these services are funded by the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West NHS Integrated Care Board and are available free of charge, along with other help available from the Berkshire West Autism & ADHD Support Service.