A NEW support group to help families and children with autism has been launched at a Wearside school.
Biddick School Sports College has launched the Parent Support Group at its Unity Centre, which caters for young people with autism and Aspergers.
Gavin Jackson, the teacher who heads the unit, said: “The group was set up to enable parents who have a child on the autism spectrum to meet other parents in a similar position and to share experiences while knowing that they are not alone.”
Mr Jackson said the group plans to meet every half-term and there will be guests invited in to cover topics which parents say they would like more information about.
At the moment, the support group is only for parents of children who are already part of the Unity Centre, but there are plans to open it up to parents of all children who attend Biddick School and in the long term, to primary cluster schools and the whole of Washington.
Castletown mum Mandy Hulse, whose autistic son Callum, 11, started the school last month, said: “I can’t believe how well Callum has settled in. He absolutely loves going to school and has grown so much in confidence already.
“The support group is great because it gives you the chance to talk to other parents who might face similar issues.”
Mr Jackson said: “The overall aim of the Unity Centre is to use a holistic approach to provide a safe, secure and caring environment for pupils with autism.
“The centre will enable pupils to lead as normal a life as possible and will hopefully support them to progress into full-time employment or further education.
“The centre currently supports nine pupils by providing full mainstream curriculum support as well as specialist lessons which focus on social skills.”
Working with Autism Outreach, the Unity Centre provides has quiet rooms for pupils to relax in, including a sensory room which, and runs a breakfast club.