This is a section for parents, carers and families who have a child or young person on the Autism Spectrum. It is also aimed at professionals who work with or support children and young people with autism. The purpose of the page is to link useful autism information together on one page. We welcome suggestions from anyone using the page about information to be included and how to make it more useful. Please click on the links and collapsible headings below for more information.

 

Credit: film created by and uploaded with kind permission of Alex Amelines (Studio Tinto)

 

Local organisations have collaborated to produce this booklet:

You are not alone - A parent’s perspective on autism (opens a PDF document)

The Richmond Branch of the National Autistic Society (NAS) has produced this helpful guide aimed at parents/carers, families and young people. It is available in both online and printed editions, but the online guide is updated most regularly:

NAS Richmond Branch Information Pack (opens a page on an external website)

Autistic children and young people have their own dedicated pages on the Young People's Hub (opens a page on this website) 

  • Express is a not for profit, entirely voluntary parent led organisation. We exist to support young people with autism and their families. We run several parent/carer support groups, a weekly drama club, weekly drama therapy groups for young people on the autism spectrum, an asd girls group, a sibling group, a yoga club, support with EHCPs & DLA applications and a counselling service for parent/carers of SEN children. In addition we work tirelessly to raise autism awareness in the community, putting on events, talks and workshops. We work alongside statutory services to ensure the voice of our community is heard and to influence best practice and provisions.
    Please visit www.expresscic.org.uk or email info@expresscic.org.uk for more information and a referral form.  

  • NAS Richmond Branch: A friendly parent-led group aiming to support families and individuals mainly in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames living with an autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger's Syndrome). They hold coffee mornings, liaise with other groups and provide regular updates via emails.
    Find out more details about NAS Richmond Branch (opens a page on an external website)
     
  • NAS Kingston Branch: Formally called SWAPS, the branch welcomes all parents and carers with children on the autistic spectrum, and organises a number of activities as well as acting as a source of information on local events/services.
    Find out more details about NAS Kingston Branch (opens a page on an external website)
     
  • Balance CIC Asperger Syndrome Team: A non-profit organisation which provides a variety of support and activities for young adults aged 18 and over with a diagnosis of high functioning Autism/Aspergers.
    Find out more details about Balance CIC Asperger Syndrome Team (opens a page on an external website)
  • National Autistic Society (NAS): The UK's leading charity for people on the Autistic Spectrum and their families. They provide information, support and pioneering services, and campaign for a better world for Autistic people.
    Find out more details about the National Autistic Society (opens a page on an external website)
     
  • Ambitious about Autism: Britain's national charity for children and young people with autism. They provide services, raise awareness and understanding, and campaign for change. Their ambition is to make the ordinary possible for more children and young people with autism. They have a Youth Council, a group of 16-25 year olds with autism, who meet at least four times a year to discuss and plan campaigns, events and consultations. 
    Find out more details for Ambitious about Autism (opens a page on an external website)

There are many groups available, which you can find by searching the Local Offer Directory, but here are a few Autism-specific groups:

​Express CIC

Express is a not for profit, entirely voluntary parent led organisation. We exist to support young people with autism and their families. We run several parent/carer support groups, a weekly drama club, weekly drama therapy groups for young people on the autism spectrum, an asd girls group, a sibling group, a yoga club, support with EHCPs & DLA applications and a counselling service for parent/carers of SEN children. In addition we work tirelessly to raise autism awareness in the community, putting on events, talks and workshops. We work alongside statutory services to ensure the voice of our community is heard and to influence best practice and provisions. 


Please visit www.expresscic.org.uk or email info@expresscic.org.uk for more information and a referral form

Richmond NAS Branch coffee groups

These are held in association with Me Too and Co.

They take place at the St. Stephen’s Crossway Centre. 306, Richmond Road, East Twickenham. TW1 2PD.

The nearest parking facilities are at Marble Hill Park’s Pay & Display car park. Directions to this venue can be found on Me Too and Co’s website: www.metooandco.org.uk (opens a page on an external website).

There is a creche facility available - places need to be booked with Me Too and Co. Email them at: info@metooandco.org.uk or phone 07946 646033.

Find out more details about Richmond NAS Branch coffee groups (opens a page on an external website)

Me too & Co

Me too & Co is an independent Richmond-upon-Thames based charity that provides activities and therapies for children with disabilities and additional needs. They also support and provide therapies, courses and information for their whole families. They are a pan-disability group but a large proportion of the children who use their services have autism.

South West London Girls Connect was set up in 2014 as a networking group of parents of girls with ASD. It was formed to enable parents and carers of girls to share relevant information, as well as to provide support to each other. This is facilitated through regular coffee mornings which take place across various locations around South West London, as well as through an invitation only Facebook group. The group is also open to older girls / young women with ASD and, if anyone is interested in joining, they should email swlondongirlsconnect@gmail.com for further information. The group holds meetings at Me too & Co.

Find out more about Me too and Co (opens a page on an external website)

Workshops at Grand Avenue Primary School

The school's lead staff member for SEND, Jane Pidduck, runs various training courses, workshops and networking groups for parents, carers and families who have a child or young person on the Autism Spectrum.  Grand Avenue also run groups for siblings of children with autism as well as sibs parent workshops. Please note the sibling attending the group needs to be aged between 7 and 11. You do not have to be connected to this school to take part. 

For more information, please contact Jane:

Email: jpiddu2@grandavenue.kingston.sch.uk 
Telephone: 020 8399 5344 

There are many groups available, which you can find by searching the Local Offer Directory, but here are a few Autism-specific groups:

Express CIC

Express is a not for profit, entirely voluntary parent led organisation. We exist to support young people with autism and their families. We run several parent/carer support groups, a weekly drama club, weekly drama therapy groups for young people on the autism spectrum, an asd girls group, a sibling group, a yoga club, support with EHCPs & DLA applications and a counselling service for parent/carers of SEN children. In addition we work tirelessly to raise autism awareness in the community, putting on events, talks and workshops. We work alongside statutory services to ensure the voice of our community is heard and to influence best practice and provisions. 


Please visit www.expresscic.org.uk or email info@expresscic.org.uk for more information and a referral form. 
 

ASD social skills group 

These groups are for children on the autism spectrum in mainstream education aged 8 -12 years and are usually held at Moor Lane Centre in Chessington in term time. For more information, please contact Tracey:

Email: tracey.barnes@achievingforchildren.org.uk
Telephone: 077 4853 4587 

Click this link for a referral form (opens a Word document)

Balance CIC

Offer group workshops that run on a needs-led basis. They last for 1.5 hours and run for approximately 5 weeks. These include:

  • Understanding Asperger Syndrome
  • Communication Skills
  • Anxiety Management
  • Building Relationships
  • We also arrange one-off information sessions with guest speakers relating to different aspects of daily life.

Express run two weekly Drop-In Groups, one for 18-30 year olds and one for 18+. They are held in the same place each week and is a great opportunity to meet new people in a relaxed environment.

They also run a Social Group approximately once a month where we participate in a new activity. In the past they have been to the West End to see a theatre production, visited Kew Gardens, had a meal at a local restaurant, been bowling, hosted quiz and film evenings, played crazy golf, visited museums in London, plus much more!

Find out more details about Balance CIC (opens a page on an external website)

Action Attainment

This aims to enable children with speech, language, communication and sensory needs to achieve and have active lives. Led by Samantha Silver, the organisation builds on Sam's personal and professional experience of supporting children and their families to have fun and learn in and out of school.

Action Attainment works directly with families, professionals, schools and with community groups to provide understanding, strategies and opportunities for learning, play and friendships.

Find out more details about Action Attainment (opens a page on this website)

EnhanceAble

A local charity based in Kingston and Richmond, providing day and respite services to adults, young people and children with a range of disabilities. The services include after school clubs, where children and young people can be in a non-judgemental environment, talk to their peers and staff in confidence, and of course have a lot of fun. 

Find out more details about EnhanceAble (opens a page on this website)

Me too & Co

Me too & Co is an independent Richmond-upon-Thames based charity that provides activities and therapies for children with disabilities and additional needs. They are a pan-disability group but a large proportion of the children who use their services have autism.

Find out more about Me too and Co activities for children (opens a page on an external website)

Yorda Adventures

Yorda Adventures is a not-for-profit community organisation that works with families in and around the borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. Yorda pride themselves in providing engaging and stimulating play and short break projects for children and young people with severe learning disabilities.  Occasionally Yorda target a project at a specific group, for example those with autism, or those with physical disabilities.

Yorda Adventures

Turtle Key Arts Club

The Key Club is for anyone aged 16 to 30 year of age who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. The nearest Key Club meets once a month on a Saturday morning at The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.  Each meeting consists of a two-hour workshop followed by a break and a discussion. The subjects of the workshops and the discussions change each month but are based on the performance arts, visual arts and other creative disciplines.  If you would like to become a member of the Key Club, please contact them by phone on 020 8964 5060 or email them at charlotte@turtlekeyarts.org.uk  

Find out more details about Turtle Key Arts Club (opens a page on an external website)

Spectrum Youth Theatre (SYT)

SYT is a puppet youth theatre for young people aged 11 to 17 with Asperger's / high functioning autism. It began as a pilot project with support from Turtle Key Arts, and has gone from strength to strength. This is a perfect club for artists, model builders, designers, problem solvers, puppeteers, performers and people with big imaginations or a quirky take on life.

Find out more details about Spectrum Youth Theatre (opens a page on an external website)

Autism social groups

The Boroughs of Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth work with Resources for Autism to run social groups for adults on the autism spectrum. There are two groups: the younger group is primarily aimed at younger adults (from 18 to roughly mid-20s) and the other one (AutenRichmond) is for adults of all ages. These groups offer the people who attend the opportunity to meet friends, take part in fun activities, learn new skills and get support and advice. When: Every other Thursday on alternate dates. Where: Crossway Centre. 306, Richmond Road, East Twickenham. TW1 2PD. Do email Zahra at Zahra@resourcesforautism.org.uk or call the Resources for Autism office on 020 8458 3259 (Monday to Saturday) for more information.

Find out more details about Resources for Autism (opens a page on an external website)

The Lighthouse Project

This is a specialist support group for young people with an autism spectrum condition where they can make friends, and access youth services. It is open to young people from the Richmond and Kingston Boroughs. You can also email Jamie Cottington at jamie.cottington@achievingforchildren.org.uk or Katherine Adams at katherine.adams@achievingforchildren.org.uk.

Find out more details about the Lighthouse Project (opens a page on this website)

Our Barn Community

Run a number of community-based activities for young people aged 16 to 25 with learning or other disabilities such as autism, plus a drop-in session for unpaid carers regardless of age. Our Barn is based at Jubilee Lodge in Osterley Park, Isleworth.

Find out more about Our Barn Community (opens a page on this website)

Achieving for Children (AfC) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses

AfC run a variety of courses for professionals working in the broad field of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). If you type 'Autism' in the search bar on the 'AfC CPD Online' website, you can find out more details about Autism-specific training opportunities.

Find out more details about AfC CPD courses (opens a page on an external website)

National Autistic Society (NAS) 'EarlyBird' courses for families

EarlyBird and EarlyBird Plus are National Autistic Society (NAS) licensed programmes for parents.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) EarlyBird programme has been developed to support parents of pre-school children who either already have or are ‘on the road to’ a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder and is of pre-school age (not yet of statutory school age).

The programme aims to support parents in the period between diagnosis and school placement, empowering and helping them facilitate their child's social communication and appropriate behaviour in their natural environment. It also helps parents to establish good practice in handling their child at an early age, so as to pre-empt the development of inappropriate behaviours.

Find out more details about EarlyBird (opens a page on an external website)

Barnardo's Cygnet Training

These courses are designed for parents or carers of children and young people aged 8 to 16, with a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The course aims to improve participants’ confidence in managing the challenges faced when raising a child with ASD. 

The Cygnet programme covers  - What is autism?, communication, sensory issues, understanding and managing behaviour and siblings. This programme is over seven weeks for two and a half hours each session.

Find out more details about Barnardo's Cygnet Training (opens a page on an external website)

Autism/ADHD - Family coaching

Family coaches are highly experienced professionals who provide intensive support to parents and carers of children with complex challenging behaviour that may include autism/autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How can I be referred?

Your family support worker or social worker will have identified that you may benefit from a more intensive level of support. They will have discussed potential benefits and goals with you and made sure you are motivated to work with a family coach to affect positive change.

Find out more details about Autism/ADHD Family Coaching (opens a page on this website)

Yorda Adventures

Yorda Adventures, based in Kingston, run a variety of projects that seek to support families who have children with disabilities. They also offer high quality training to those wishing to develop their work with children and young people, whether they are working in the mainstream or with children who have special needs. Training and consultancy includes ASD Awareness, Sensory Environments and reinforcing ASD - friendly policies amongst other subjects.

Find out more about Yorda Training and Consultancy 

NAS training for professionals

The NAS run many types of training and consultancy opportunities for professionals, including a variety of scheduled training events; courses run at your venue tailored to your organisation's needs; a consultancy service that works with you to find creative solutions and a comprehensive range of online training modules.

Find out more details about NAS training for professionals (opens a page on an external website)

Ambitious about Autism: training and consultancy opportunities

This charity delivers training for both parents and professionals, and offers a bespoke outreach and consultancy service. 

According to Ambitious about Autism, "Raising awareness and understanding of autism is critical to ensuring children and young people with autism can learn, thrive and achieve and our training programme is just one way we achieve this".

Find out more details for Ambitious about Autism training (opens a page on an external website)

The curly hair project

The curly hair project (CHP) is a social enterprise based in the UK, which aims to help people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their loved ones. All their work is based on personal, real life examples and experience. CHP often visit our local area to hold seminars and training events. They also provide evening webinars on a variety of subjects.

Visit the curly hair project website

Purple Ella

Purple Ella is a YouTuber, blogger, consultant and public speaker. Her primary focus is autism. Ella is an autistic woman and the mother of two autistic children and as such belongs to a very autistic family.

Since being diagnosed with autism, aged 36, Ella has been researching, writing, consulting and speaking about autism in hopes of making life better for autistic people.

Purple Ella delivered a workshop on "Girls and autism" at the 2018 SENCo Conference held in Twickenham.  

Visit the Purple Ella website

Reasonable Adjustments - Bitesize Video (a short clip from the complete film)

 

SEND Family Voices: 'Reasonable Adjustments' film featuring twelve children and young people with SEND, including Autism (opens a page on an external website)

SEND Family Voices: SCHOOL EXCLUSIONS AND SEND Young people’s rights and the laws that protect them (opens a pdf)

Autism information on Richmond Care and Support website

Autism information on Kingston Council website

NAS Parent to Parent Service

0808 800 4106

Free from landlines and most mobiles (3, O2, EE, T-mobile, Virgin and Vodafone)

Would you like to receive confidential emotional support from another parent?

Parent to Parent (P2P) is a UK-wide confidential telephone service providing emotional support to parents and carers of children or adults on the autism spectrum.

The service is provided by trained parent volunteers who are all parents themselves of a child or adult on the autism spectrum. Volunteers are based across the UK so you don’t have to share information with someone in your local area. Our volunteers have personal experience of autism and the impact it has on their own families. They can give other parents the opportunity to talk through problems and feelings, suggest helpful strategies, or provide a non-judgemental listening ear.

More information for parents, carers and families (opens a page on an external website)

National Autistic Society: 'Too Much Information' campaign (opens a page on an external website)

Ambitious about Autism: 'Know Your Normal' toolkit (opens a PDF document)

If you are an autistic person, or know an autistic person who wants to help people around them understand what their normal is, this tool can help. The ‘know your normal’ tool allows you to describe what your normal looks like, things such as how much sleep you get, how much time you spend on your interests and hobbies and how this makes you feel, so that if this changes, it’s easier to explain to people who may not understand your autism that something feels different.

 

Since the autism section has gone live we have received the following feedback.  If you would like to contact us about this section you can do so using the "Contact us" form or by using the "feedback faces".  Please add your contact details if you would like an individual response.

The animated film is amazing! However, it would be more beneficial for the local Autism community if short films, or some other relevant form of media, could be introduced which show real life people (including Autistic children/young people/adults; parents, carers and local support leaders such as Express) talking about their own experiences of Autism or how they help others. Being able to see more variety of real life people speaking on the SEND Local Offer would be so helpful!  

We can see that this would be useful and had already included links to the Reasonable Adjustments film produced by SEND Family Voices and featuring some local children and young people with autism.  If other films or resources produced in the community, featuring real people, become available we would gladly add them. As long as we have the correct permissions of course.

Autism section is designed well and we like the animation but parents are disappointed that very little effort has been made to involve them. I’m a parent myself I have a child with SEND and am personally annoyed with AfC with the chaotic EHCP process and now the autism section doesn’t involve us enough. I know the Local Offer is good but needs to be far better. Hope you take this into account.

Parents like us need to be consulted on autism section we need to see a proper plan for developing this!

I'm a parent saw the new autism section you say that parents are part of developing it but i see no proper plan for involving parents or carers. Parents like us need to be involved. More local community!

New autism section is great but needs to be more interactive. Where are real children and young people's experiences? More short films required! More local community!

Thank you for your comments. The idea for this section was suggested in the Local Offer Development Group with the sole purpose of linking useful autism information together on one page. The page was developed taking into account the advice and knowledge of members which included amongst others, parent representatives for SEND Family Voices ( parents with a wealth of experience in producing autism resources for a local organisation and autism parents themselves), representatives ( both parents) from Express CIC, another local autism supporting organisation. Co production can take many forms and for this project we worked with a small group to effect a slight change to the way the information is presented on the website to make it easier for a specific group of users. As such there is no plan other than to say that we welcome constructive suggestions from all in the local community as to what local resources need to be signposted. As already said - we will consider including all suggestions but were not planning to create films or other media for this section as this would probably come under the remit of community groups working with families and children and young people with autism.  


It may be better to keep loose with regards to days/times of clubs meetings etc to future proof and therefore if anything changes the front page is still valid. All can link direct to website contact details for up to date info - just a thought to hopefully make it easier to maintain. 

Thank you for this suggestion. It makes sense. We have taken the detail off.

Hello the new autism page is fab! I’ve got Aspergers and I find it interesting.

That is great to hear. Please tell us if you have any ideas that would make it more useful.

Hiya I'm very pleased that the website has finally done a special section for autism! Loving the animation! One suggestion I can think of is maybe it would be helpful to have info about places to get autism diagnosis (including private ones)?

Please could you add information about Autism diagnostic criteria to new Autism section (there is new criteria coming out later this year to look out for)?

Thank you for this. We will add this information soon and look to build on it as new information comes available or changes.

I’ve heard good things about SEND advice sessions with Ed Davey that Express organise. Maybe something for new Autism section?

Thank you for this. To enable us to keep the section up to date and "future proof" the content we have decided not to include specific details of sessions or events on this page. We hope that highlighting relevant organisations and giving links to websites will signpost what they offer. Also, organisations can add details of individual events and sessions to the "What's On" calendar to publicise also. For instance, when you look at the directory record for Express CIC ( click link to see example) you will see that they have created events which you can click on in the calendar.

Dear local offer team, I’m a father of a young person with Autism and I would like to say that your website is impressive! I am interested to learn that you have a dedicated autism section which looks great. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops and I’m glad that the local community can be involved in this development.

Thank you for this lovely feedback. 

Love the new Autism page! It’s great that different information about Autism is all together. Would AfC consider using this new section as a basis for a community fair, where families could meet local organisations, charities and the local offer team for opportunities for networking?

Thank you for this encouraging feedback. AfC have no plans for a community fair, especially focussing on one specific condition. However we are aware of and support events are held in the community, such as the ExpressCIC event for World Autism Awareness Week and the Local Offer/Transition Fair that TAG Youth Club is planning for later in the year. 

Hello local offer team, I think the new Autism section is a very important part of the website and very helpful for families. Here are some positives and things to develop which you may like to consider:

Positives 
New page is laid out well. Good developing information, animation is fantastic and headings are clear.

Things to develop 
It may be useful for families if information could be added about Autism in relation to hospitals and emergency services (such as reference to NAS hospital passport). Also maybe things about public transport and diagnostic criteria. Finally, I clicked on link to young people’s site from the new page - the young people’s info is a pleasing start but am thinking about my own child in this respect and so I think that info for young people’s site could be more developed, in places it is a bit lacklustre but I’m happy that a special area for young people is included on website.

Thank you for this feedback. When we thought about the plan to collate useful autism information in one place it was accepted that it would not be possible to collect and maintain a resource that would answer every need. Nor would it be practical to duplicate information that is available from other organisations who specialise in gathering resources to support autism, such as NAS Richmond.

We will pass on your comments about the Young people's pages to the Participation team and the Young People who manage the Hub.

I love the new autism section! Animation is fun and interesting way to introduce autism. Maybe you may like to consider NAS too much information campaign films? My only criticism as a parent is that the local offer team seems to be mostly behind the scenes with little time to meet directly in person with families. I know that we've got SEND Family Voices but this is not the same as meeting directly with AfC. Being able to talk about autism section directly with AfC would be useful for the local community. Also how can autistic young peoples engage with the new autism section? The link to the young people's hub is quite vague as to how real children and young people can be involved.

Thank you we are glad you love the new autism section.  When attempting to create a new section for autism resources we had to accept that it could never be a "catch all" resource to meet all need and suggestions. We simply wouldn't be able to maintain it alongside all the other information across the site which is constantly being updated with demands in many areas (we have been told we are unique in the responsive way that we update and the frequency with which we add content to our website).

The person ( not a team unfortunately) who is responsible for the website does attend events in the community when time and resources allow. In a similar way, different teams who actually provide services in the Local Offer often attend or faciliate events in the community to work face to face with families. We hope to do more of this in future. 

Young people who wish to take part in developing the Young People's Hub should contact the Participation Team (opens a page on this website).

I have to say the new Autism page and the website as a whole is impressive! Other local authorities could really get inspiration from your lovely website! Autism page is clear, informative and interesting. Well done!

Thank you, that is good to hear.