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Specialist autism team set up

PUBLISHED: 05:31 31 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

A TEAM of five people has been set up in Suffolk to meet the needs of children with autism.

The Suffolk Autism Project was officially launched yesterday at Cedar House, Pytches Road, Woodbridge, and attracted many parents who were keen to discover how it could help them cope with the disability in their children.

A TEAM of five people has been set up in Suffolk to meet the needs of children with autism.

The Suffolk Autism Project was officially launched yesterday at Cedar House, Pytches Road, Woodbridge, and attracted many parents who were keen to discover how it could help them cope with the disability in their children.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. An autistic child appears normal but exhibits behaviour that onlookers describe as naughty.

Lindsay Towns, a development officer, three family support workers, Kris Hope, Jane Jordan and Denise Stout, and an administrator Anne Chapman, have started work in the team.

They will work closely with health, education, social care and voluntary services to provide help for people with autism to ensure they fulfil their potential.

In Suffolk the team will meet families, support them and give information. They will assist families to set up and run parent support groups and they will develop a resource of books, leaflets, videos and a website. They will set up social networks for children.

They will promote links between all those involved in supporting families and they will deliver training and raise awareness of autistic spectrum disorders. The team also want to find volunteer befrienders. They will work with families and provide them with a friend they can turn to when they want their autistic child to be taken out, or to give them a temporary break from caring for their child.

The project will specifically help families with children aged five to 13. Eileen Hopkins, director of development for the National Autistic Society, said: ''What is happening in Suffolk is providing us with a model that we hope can be replicated elsewhere. There are some other projects scattered about the UK, but this one in Suffolk is fairly unique in the breadth of what it will cover.''

There is funding from The Children's Fund until March with the expectation it will be continued for a further two years depending on the initial success.

The team can be contacted on 01394 383855 or by e.mail on

suffolkautismproject.nas.org.uk

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