Coronavirus: Support from Autism Berkshire

Get help from our family support team

Autism Berkshire’s family support workers are still available to help autistic people and their families.

Our Helpline service can provide advice about autism and related matters, including challenging behaviour, food refusal and sleep, and signposting to specialist support services for issues including education and schools.

We are also offering Virtual Home Visits, by video link, to parents and carers living in the Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire council areas only to provide in-depth advice on a one-to-one basis.

If you need advice at any time, or would like to request a Virtual Home Visit with one of our family support workers, you can contact the Helpline team in the following ways – please make sure to include your email address and a phone number in your message:

Please note that as our team are working from home, we may not be able to reply immediately, but will respond to all enquiries as soon as we can. Phone calls will come from mobile phone numbers rather than our office, so please answer even if it is an unfamiliar number.

Online Autism Advice Workshops and Courses

We are currently running Online Autism Advice Workshops by video link about topics including Meeting Sensory Needs, Managing Anger, Food Refusal in Autistic Children, and a new workshop about Autism in Girls, with autism advocate Carly Jones MBE.

We are also running Online Courses running over a number of sessions – EarlyBird Plus, for parents and carers of autistic children aged 5 to 9 and Teen Life, for parents and carers of children aged 10 to 16. School staff who support their children are also welcome to take part in these courses

See below for details of what workshops and courses are available in the Berkshire West and East Berkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group areas:

Berkshire West

Parents and carers living in the Berkshire West NHS Clinical Commissioning area (the Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire council areas) or who are registered with a GP practice that is part of the CCG can register for free places at the following workshops in November and December. We apologise for any disappointment if you live in other parts of Berkshire.

The workshop programme is as follows:

  • Thursdays November 26 and December 3: Managing Anger, Parts 1 and 2, 1pm to 2.30pm. Click here to register.

If you have any difficulties registering online for these workshops, click here to complete our online contact form, email us at contact@autismberkshire.org.uk or call us on 01189 594 594, select option 1 and leave a voicemail message.

  • If you are interested in taking part in a Teen Life course for Berkshire West parents and carers early next year, please let us know using the contact information above.

East Berkshire

Since the start of October 2020, responsibility for providing support to families with autistic children and young people up to the age of 25, or whose children are waiting for an autism assessment, and who live in the East Berkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning area (the Bracknell Forest, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead council areas) has passed to a new service, called GEMS4Health, run by private contractor Solutions4Health.

We are running a number of courses on their behalf, including EarlyBird Plus and Teen Life, which are both suitable for parents and carers of autistic children who have an autism diagnosis or are on the Berkshire CAMHS waiting list for an autism assessment, and SocialEyes courses for young autistic adults aged 18 to 25.

If you would like to take part in EarlyBird Plus or the other courses, which are free of charge, you must contact GEMS4Health, who will make a booking for you. The courses are all be led by qualified Autism Berkshire trainers.

To get in touch with GEMS4Health, call 01753 373244 or 0800 999 1342 or email gems.4health@nhs.net

Benefits Service

Benefits advice is available for autistic people living in Berkshire and their parents and carers by email, phone and video link, along with some free online Understanding Your Benefits Rights workshops.

Forthcoming free online workshops about applying for benefits are as follows:

  • December 7: For parents and carers of autistic children aged up to 15, looking at applying for DLA. Click here to register.
  • January 11, 2021: For autistic young people and adults aged 16+, and their parents and carers, looking at applying for Universal Credit and Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). Click here to register.
  • February 8, 2021: For autistic young people and adults aged 16+, and their parents and carers, looking at applying for Universal Credit and Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). Click here to register.
  • March 8, 2021: For parents and carers of autistic children aged up to 15, looking at applying for DLA. Click here to register.

Email benefits@autismberkshire.org.uk or call 01189 594 594 (option 2) and leave a voicemail message if you need advice about benefit applications, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals or our workshops. Remember to include your contact details. One of our advisers will get in touch to help you.

Click here for more details of the Benefits Service.

Bear With Me social group

Members of our Bear With Me group for autistic adults in Maidenhead can take part in online video sessions on Wednesday evenings and get advice and information by phone, while the weekly meetings at the Bear pub are suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The online sessions are on Wednesday evenings, starting at 7pm. All members of the group have been invited to join in and will get updates about what activities are coming up for future sessions. To take part, they should email helen@autismberkshire.org.uk

Helen and Scott are available to talk to members by telephone every Wednesday evening between 6.30pm and 7pm on the following numbers:

  • Helen: 07923 910108
  • Scott: 07923 910100

Group members can also get in touch with Helen by email at – helen@autismberkshire.org.uk

197 Club social group

Members of our 197 Club for autistic adults in Reading can take part in online video sessions on Monday evenings and get advice while the fortnightly meetings at pubs and restaurants in the town remain suspended.

Session are fortnightly at 7pm on Mondays. All members are welcome to join in. To take part they should email Kevin Jackson at 197club@autismberkshire.org.uk to request a log-in link.

Face Covering exemption card

While face masks are mandatory when you are in shops or using public transport, the Government has allowed a number of exemptions to this rule – notably for children aged under 11 and for those who find wearing a face covering difficult due to a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability. Click here for the full Government guidance.

University of Reading graphic communication graduate Eden Sinclair has designed a Face Covering exemption card for us that you can print and show when you are shopping or using a bus or train, if anyone asks why you do not have a mask.

Click here to download the card.

Top tips for autistic and ADHD children returning to school

Autism Berkshire and fellow Berkshire charities Parenting Special Children and The Autism Group have teamed up with the East Berkshire and Berkshire West NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to create a list of top tips for parents and carers of autistic children and children with ADHD to help them get ready for the expected return to school in September.

  • Click here to download the East Berkshire version
  • Click here to download the Berkshire West version

Useful links

We are posting regular updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages and have compiled helpful links on a range of topics in two special coronavirus pages on this website.

Click here for advice and information for parents and carers.

Click here for lots of online and offline activities for children and families.

  • We would like to thank Berkshire Community Foundation for helping with the costs of adapting and running these services with a grant from their Vital for Berkshire Coronavirus Fund.