FAMILIES transformed into ghouls and zombies as a new group for youngsters with autism celebrated Halloween.
Flash (Families Living with Autism, Support and Help) has been created by mums and dads on Wearside who have children with the condition.
The group currently has over 100 members on its Facebook page and coupled a launch party with a spooky fun day at NE38 Sports Bar, in Barmston, Washington.
Dad Darren Connolly, whose children Isla, six, and Benjamin, three, both have the condition, hailed the party as “fantastic”.
“Everybody’s loved getting involved and it’s been a great way to launch the group,” said Darren, 34, of Washington.
“There’s not much of a support network for parents of children with autism in the North East, it’s more of a national thing, which is why we decided to set up Flash.
“Children with the condition don’t tend to socialise well with others kids, so when they have others around them with autism they get on better.
“As well as that the parents can be more relaxed and have a chat amongst themselves about how they look after their children.
“It doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many years you go to university, you don’t understand the condition of autism unless you live with it.”
Nicola Wilkinson, whose eight-year-old son Sam is autistic, has also been involved in setting up the group. “We have the full support of other autism support groups and schools in the area and feel that this is something that families in Sunderland and the surrounding areas can benefit from,” said Nicola, from Fulwell.
“We hold regular drop-in sessions for parents and kids to come along and hope to be organising some autism friendly events in the new year. It is really important to our members that they are able to go out and about with their children and be with other parents who won’t judge the behaviour of their children if they have a meltdown in public.”
The group are now hoping to organise future events in the coming months and are encouraging parents with children who have autism to get in touch. Search for Families Living with Autism, Support and Help, on Facebook or call Darren on 07720237316.
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