What we do
Halton Autistic Family Support group provides key services to whole families in the borough of Halton who have a child or young adult with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders). HAFS is unique in this respect, as most support groups either cater for the affected person or parents, whereas we do both! One of the first things you’ll notice at our meetings is the friendly and caring atmosphere, we tell families: “You are NOT alone anymore.”
The Group was originally founded by Margie Shanahan as a result of her son Sean’s diagnosis of Autism after 10 years of searching. It was clear that there were no services available specifically for Autistic children and their families in Halton.
As a result, many families in the Halton area have struggled, under very stressful conditions, to try and get access to appropriate help and services. They often felt that they were on their own and in fact barriers are often put in their path due to a combination of ignorance, lack of human and financial resources and a lack of political will to address the problems and issues associated with Autism. Each set of parents/carers felt that they were on their own and just had to get on with it, without support and being kept in ignorance about their rights and what little assistance might be available to them.
The need for such a support group to address current priorities and plan for the future became very apparent. After several abortive attempts to form a group over a two year period, a few like minded parents got together, with the assistance of Halton Social Services – Children’s Services Department, in June 2001 to try and form a self help support group and initially met at Glendale Family Centre. More parents/carers were encouraged to join through word of mouth and advertising and eventually a Management Committee and a Constitution, including a set of aims and objectives, were officially approved on 29th November 2001. Immediate priorities were agreed as being raising awareness of Autism and of The Group in the Halton area and fund raising and grant application activities. In the subsequent sixteen years since formation, the Group has been very successful beyond its original expectations in terms of numbers, publicity and funding. The Group has 100 families on its active member register with new referrals/enquiries coming in all the time.”
“I am writing to say thank you to you personally. For the care and help you have shown to me, Elisabeth and therefore the rest of my family.”J Johnson