A Wearside mum is setting up a new group for youngsters with autism after being inspired by her son’s battle with the condition.
Shelly Waddle, from Fatfield, Washington, is getting ready to launch JACKS Autism Club 4 Kids, a weekly meet-up aiming to provide support for children with autism and their parents.
Shelly, 38, hopes the group - named after her 12-year-old son Jack - will allow children to gain confidence in social situations as well as providing a support network for their parents.
The mum-of three said: “As a mum with an autistic child, I had noticed over the years that there was very little out there for children with autism that doesn’t require a social services referral, so I just came up with this idea to set up a group.
“I think it is something that will be good for parents and their children, who can all come along and support each other.
“It is a way for parents to tell each other that they have found out about the condition and a place for the kids to socialise.”
Shelly, whose son Jack was diagnosed aged six, hopes the club will allow her son to mix with other children with his condition in a relaxed and understanding environment.
She said: “It will be environment where the kids are not going to be looked at because of their condition and will be a way of doing activities which will teach them life skills.”
The group, which will be suitable for children aged between four and 16 years old, looks set to launch in the next few weeks.
Once up and running, it will take place on a Monday night from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at Ayton Community Centre, in Goldcrest Road, Washington.
The group will feature activities for youngsters and Shelly is appealing for members of the public to donate items including toys and instruments for the children to interact with.
For more information, or to donate and sign up, please email: Jacksautismclub@gmail.com
Alternatively, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/JACKsautismclub/