The Banbury autism group Parents Talking Asperger’s has trebled in size in the past year – reaching out to families and youngsters across the town, county and further afield.
Since founder and principal Karen Irvani set up a Facebook page called Parents Talking Asperger’s (PTA) in February 2012 and held the first group meeting for 20 people in her Bath Road sitting room, the group has trebled in size with an average of 60 people attending the meetings.
Since then, the group has won an award from Oxford Community & Voluntary Action and held three public speaker events and children and young people with Asperger’s Syndrome – both diagnosed and undiagnosed – and their parents have formed friendships which have changed their lives for the better.
Today, PTA has a virtual community of 250 across Oxfordshire, with regular contributors from around the world, and receives family referrals from the National Autistic Society, other autism charities and Special Educational Needs (SEN) professionals from local schools.
PTA’s fun nights for children and young people, siblings and parents take place at its headquarters near Banbury on alternative Thursdays with activities including Wii, computer games, table tennis and a sensory chill-out room.
Karen Irvani said: “We’ve got around 15 families waiting to come to PTA for the first time. Until a child or young person tries it for themselves it’s really difficult for parents to persuade and encourage them to go anywhere new because a prominent factor in autism is the inability to cope with change and reluctance to socialise. However, once they’ve been to PTA for the first time they just can’t wait to come back. And that’s how it becomes life-changing; for children, their parents and their siblings.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Parents-Talking-Aspergers or see www.parents-talking-aspergers.co.uk