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.

Friday Lunch Break with Amanda

Join Autism Berkshire family support worker Amanda Walker for a friendly and informal chance to chat and get advice online from noon to 1pm on Fridays.

We are running more free Friday Lunch Breaks in the run-up to the school summer holidays and again when children go back to school in September, so join in if you have any questions about getting ready for the holidays or tips to share with other families.

Sessions are on Fridays July 2, July 9 and July 16, with more dates to follow.

Click here for more details and to register for free places.

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 & ADHD Children, and a workshop about Autism and Girls, with Carly Jones.

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:

Berkshire West Autism & ADHD Support Service

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. We apologise for any disappointment if you live in other parts of Berkshire.

The workshop programme is as follows:

Food Refusal: To be advised.

Understanding More About Autism: To be advised.

Meeting Sensory Needs: To be advised.

Sleep Difficulties: To be advised.

Managing Anger: To be advised.

Emotional Regulation: Friday, July 9, 10am to 11.30am.

Autism and Girls: Friday, July 16, 10am to 11.30am.

Transition to Adulthood: To be advised.

To register for free places at 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.

East Berkshire

Since 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.

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 – please note that our workshops are only available to Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire residents, due to funding rules.

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.

Forthcoming online workshops are as follows:

  • July 19: 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.

Click here for full details of support available from 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

Subject to any updated Government guidance on the coronavirus pandemic, the sessions of the Reading-based 197 Club for autistic adults will be a mix of online and group activities, as follows:

  • Monday, July 19: Bowling at Wokingham Superbowl, in Wellington Road. Meet at the venue from 6.30pm for bowling at 7pm.

  • Monday, August 2: Return to The Outlook pub in Reading. Meet from 6.30pm for 7pm start.

  • Saturday, August 14: First Summer Walk to the Cunning Man, at Burghfield Bridge. Meet at Starbucks on the Riverside level at the Oracle Centre in Reading at 11am.

For more details and log-in links for online sessions, members 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.

  • 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.