FAMILIES with autistic children have a new support group thanks to five caring mums.
Penny Vanderplank, who has an autistic four-year-old son, Harry, co-founded Aspiring Autism with friends.
They launched it after attending a course for parents with recently diagnosed children, at Haven Children’s Centre in Harris Road, Gosport.
Penny, Jen Eland, Rachael Hodson, Nikki Flack and Christine French run the group in Gosport at the Haven centre.
Penny said: ‘I went to Haven to do an autism course with friends and afterwards they contacted us to say “why not set up a group?”.
‘We had no idea how to set up a group but now we’re happy to be a support group at the moment rather than a charity. We’re not looking to ask for money – if it’s good enough for me to take my children to then that’s all I want.’
The group meets twice a month, on the first Thursday with parents and children, with a session on the last Thursday of the month just for parents.
These parent-only meetings host professional speakers, offering advice about autistic children.
The sessions also allow parents to support each other – with the opportunity for them to discuss their experiences with autistic children.
Penny said: ‘A lot of people like to speak and let frustrations out – family don’t always understand. We’ve got definite regulars who always come back – we always get updates on the Facebook group. It’s about the parents. It’s their group too. At first they held back but now they suggest things and help us.
‘When we first started we were making them cups of tea but now they come in and make their own.’
Penny and the group are holding a Halloween-themed three-hour session on Thursday, November 1.
It is open to children and parents. Anyone interested should get in touch via email@example.com.