Annual photo shoot celebrated with funding for autism volunteer group

Parents Talking Asperger's. Picture: Anthony Upton
Parents Talking Asperger's. Picture: Anthony Upton

Voluntary autism support group Parents Talking Asperger’s (PTA) held its annual photo shoot at its headquarters in Middleton Cheney.

This year’s event, on Sunday, June 12, had a regal air as the celebrations also paid homage to the Queen with an afternoon tea, in tandem with the whole nation for the monarch’s 90th birthday.

Founder and principal Karen Irvani, who set up PTA in 2012 in a bid to support others like her then 12-year-old son, said: “Our annual photo shoot is always a great occasion and this year it was even more exciting around the Queen’s birthday celebrations. This year also marks PTA’s fourth birthday. Once again, our photo journalist friend Ant Upton came up from London to do the shoot for free and he sensitively managed the shoot in one session. However, if the other 30 families who couldn’t attend on the day for various reasons had been there, it would definitely have gone to two!”

PTA will have an informal photo shoot on the last fun night before the summer holidays so that everyone can be included.

Since the group began four years ago, PTA has grown not just in parent members (over 1,000 families) but also in volunteers, all working alongside Karen, her husband Shahram, and pastoral manager John R Jeffs and other Baptist church volunteers.

In its four-year life PTA has held six speaker events and won two awards, one at national level.

As the demand for support spanning in-person and online continues to increase, Karen has more good news to share.

She said: “We’ve recently been overwhelmed to receive considerable private funding from a local couple who themselves have an autistic grandson. Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing how they have made such a phenomenal difference to the levels of support we can offer to families living with autism in our locality. We’re so very grateful.”

In the autumn, PTA will be launching PTAJunior, an earlier session of its successful Fun Night format for primary school children, and also a dedicated group for siblings of children and young people with autism that will be helmed by the young people themselves, with supervision.

Karen added: “Now we have a band of wonderful volunteers – and the first batch of vital funding – we can expand our support and also focus on key areas of need such as siblings and younger children. It’s all about making them feel as if they matter.”

Visit or find PTA on Facebook.