Drop-in Advice and Support Groups

Face-to-face advice for parents and carers

Autism Berkshire provides drop-in advice sessions or support groups for parents and carers of children and young people with autism, or whose children are waiting for an autism assessment, in Reading, Bracknell, Slough, Thatcham and Windsor.

Free drop-in advice sessions are held during school terms in Reading and Slough, plus the first Friday of every month at the Swings and Smiles coffee mornings in Thatcham, where our team will be happy to answer autism-related questions and talk about local support services for individuals and families living with autism.

Support group meetings in Reading, Bracknell, Slough and Windsor are free of charge, friendly and informal, with tea, coffee and biscuits provided.

They give those attending the chance to talk, share experiences and learn new strategies in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.

Visiting speakers will talk about topics relevant to parents and carers of children and young people on the autism spectrum and answer questions. Subjects covered include managing behaviour, visual support strategies, anxiety, emotions, social stories and benefits advice.

A number of these services are supported by the East Berkshire and Berkshire West NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Scroll down the page for details of what is available in your area.

Reading Drop-in Advice Sessions

These are held every Tuesday during school terms between 10am and 12.30pm in the Autism Berkshire office at 40 Caversham Road, Reading, RG1 7EB.

On the second Tuesday of each month, the session will be in a support group format and will include some short presentations and an opportunity to talk to our team and other parents and carers.

The drop-in advice sessions are open to people living in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire. Click here for details of car parking and public transport.

Forthcoming drop-in advice sessions are: September 17, September 24, October 1, October 15, October 22.

Forthcoming support group meetings are: October 8.

For more information, call 01189 594 594 or email contact@autismberkshire.org.uk

Please note that we are unable to offer advice about benefits at these drop-in sessions. Benefits advice is only available by appointment. Click here for more information about our benefits service and how to make an appointment.

Bracknell Support Group

The group’s meetings are held during school terms between 10am and noon at Forest Park Community Centre, Horndean Road, Forest Park, Bracknell, RG12 0XQ.

We would appreciate it if you could register in advance by clicking the links below, but just drop in on the day if you are available.

Forthcoming meetings:  Monday, September 30 – click here to register, Thursday, November 14 – click here to register.

For more information about the group, call 01189 594 594 or email contact@autismberkshire.org.uk

Slough Support Group

The group’s meetings are held during school terms on Fridays, in the Gallery area at The Curve, in William Street, Slough, SL1 1XY.

We would appreciate it if you could register in advance by clicking the links below, but just drop in on the day if you are available.

Forthcoming meetings: Friday, September 27 – click here to register. We will be joined by a guest speaker from Slough Family Information Service. Wednesday, November 27 – click here to register.

For more information about the group, call 01189 594 594 or email contact@autismberkshire.org.uk

Windsor Support Group

The group’s meetings are held during school terms, between 10am and noon at Windsor Youth and Community Centre, Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD.

We would appreciate it if you could register in advance by clicking the links below, but just drop in on the day if you are available.

Forthcoming meetings: Friday, October 18 – click here to register. We will be joined at this meeting by a guest speaker from Heroes Berkshire learning centre and farm, at Holyport, near Maidenhead, which works with children who struggle in mainstream education.

For more information about the group, call 01189 594 594 or email contact@autismberkshire.org.uk

West Berkshire Drop-in Advice and Support Groups

Our local Home Visit Support Worker, Amanda Walker, attends coffee mornings run by Swings and Smiles in Thatcham to offer drop-in advice to parents and carers and answer questions about autism, our services and the workshops we run.

Swings and Smiles

Swings and Smiles is a charity based in Thatcham, which supports families of children with special needs, including autism, and provides purpose-built play facilities.

It hosts a weekly coffee morning for parents on Fridays during school terms, giving them the chance to chat and share advice and information.

These are held at the charity’s base at A Place to Play, in Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3RR, between 9.30am and 11am.

Our forthcoming monthly drop-in advice sessions at the coffee mornings are as follows:

October 4, November 8.

Meetings are free of charge. Children are welcome.

For more information about all Swings and Smiles’ services, including the coffee morning, email office@swingsandsmiles.co.uk, call 01635 285170 or visit their website.

Sunshine and Showers

These support groups are run by West Berkshire Council for parents and carers of children on the autism spectrum.

Meetings in Tilehurst are held at Downsway Primary School, in Warbreck Drive, on Thursday mornings between 9.15am and 11.15am.

Forthcoming sessions are:

October 3.

Meetings in Thatcham are held at the West Berkshire Central Family Wellbeing Hub, in Park Lane, on Thursday mornings between 9.30am and 11.30am.

Forthcoming sessions are:

September 19, November 21.

Meetings cost £1 per family, including refreshments. Children are welcome.

Melissa Hutchings, the council’s Autism Advisor for Families, will be available to answer autism-related questions.

Guest speakers attend some meetings to talk about topics relevant to parents and carers of children on the autism spectrum.

For more information about the groups, email melissa.hutchings@westberks.gov.uk or call Melissa Hutchings on 01635 503646.