What we can offer
The Huddersfield Support Group for Autism (HSGA) was set up in February 1992 and has held meetings at regular intervals since then. It aims to offer help and advice to families living with Autism, including Asperger’s syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome (PDA). A confirmed diagnosis of ASD is not needed to join the group.
What we have achieved.
The group has been very active in working with the local authority to help to develop better services for people with Autism in the area. HSGA’s recommendations, advice, and determination played a key role in the setting up of the Primary and Secondary resourced provisions at Longley Special School and the formation of the Kirklees Autism Outreach Service (KAOS). We have previously worked very closely with Shabang (special needs theatre company) and Kirklees to provide leisure activities. Services are currently changing in Kirklees so the information we have provided may be quickly out of date.
We run very popular, and heavily subsidised, family outings to Chester Zoo, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Bridlington with a nominal charge to group members. Several families have also attended the excellent Circus Starr without charge! We also have an annual Concert Night at The Victoria Hotel, this is great night out and an invaluable fund-raiser. The annual BBQ at Golcar Cricket Club is also a very popular event. The funds we raise subsidise all of our activities.
The Summer Playscheme
The biggest project each year is the summer Playscheme which provides entertainment for approximately 100 children with ASD, aged between 3 and 16 years old, over a three-week period. Laura Griffiths is our playscheme coordinator and it operates on an arms-length basis from the main group for charity accounting purposes. The playscheme is in demand every year and it often has a waiting list for each week. It is a constant struggle to get the funding for the Playscheme and we rely heavily on grants and fund-raising events. A sub-committee led by Tanya Perry works extremely hard year after year to raise funds to provide exciting activities for the children.
Keeping you informed
We have previously produced a printed monthly newsletter with updates and information on events that have taken place and provided information for anything relevant occurring in the future. It has now been decided that the website, email and Facebook page is sufficient for distributing HSGA news. At present, we have over 300 families and interested professionals on the mailing list.
We are a membership group. There is a token membership fee of £5 each year and all those on the mailing list receive regular emails with information about forthcoming evening meetings, talks, outings, fundraising events and updates. We offer support, advice, and information as well as improving awareness of and provision for both children and adults with autism. To join please follow the Become a Member tab and fill in a form.
The HSGA support pack provides a resource for parents and carers that provide information on education, health, benefits, a useful contact list, as well as trying to explain a little about what the Autistic Spectrum Disorder is. Although we must remember each person is an individual and autism is never the same in any 2 people. We provide help and assistance wherever we can, notably through our President and founder Kate Falkingham, who, although now retired, has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Even if we only signpost you where help can be available, it might be just what you need.
The group is entirely voluntary and like other support Groups up and down the country, we are there to help each other. Just meeting and talking to other parents and carers who are in similar positions, or have been through what you are now going through, is hopefully a great comfort and help.