A NEW charity has been set up in Antrim for young people living with Autistic Spectrum Disorders including Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
All About Us has been granted permission to use the premises of Rehability in Rathenraw while they look for a permanent base.
The group was set up by Christina and Anthony O’Neill, who have children diagnosed with Asperger’s and were looking for somewhere for themselves and their kids to socialise in an understanding environment.
When they found that no such group existed in Antrim, they decided to take the bull by the horns.
“We have set the group up for information sharing, support, to arrange meet ups, schedule events and for making new friends for these young people and their families.” said Christina.
“Our aim is to cater for children and teenagers from the age of 8-18 as at the minute there isn’t anything local available for this age group, we will cater for both those with a diagnosis of ASD and those going through the diagnosis process, their siblings and their families.
Thanks to Rehability, All About Us will be able to run weekly meet-ups on Thursday and Friday evenings for the young people to enable socialising, making friends, learning new skills and having some fun.
It is hoped that this will enable the young people to have a routine for going out, a place for them and their families to make friends and hopefully something they will look forward to each week.
All About Us has registered as a charity, and as support grows the group is also hoping to be able to provide courses to help young people get placements and jobs in areas such as food and hygiene, first aid as mental health.
The group held a coffee morning last week in Rehability Antrim and is opening for the young people on November 1.
All About us will run on Thursday and Friday evenings in Rehability Antrim from 6pm to 9pm weekly and there will also be also coffee mornings for the parents on a Friday from 10am - 12pm.
In order to raise much-needed funds, there will be ‘a night at the races’ in the Anchor Bar in Antrim on Saturday December 1 from 8.30pm-1am.
“We have a small but growing band of volunteers,”said Christina.
“Routine and understanding behaviours is very important for young people on the ASD spectrum and we want to create an environment where these children and teenagers can feel safe, have fun and socialise.”
The area at Rehability includes table football and other games, an area for colouring, a projection screen for movies, a computer room with PCs and a ‘quiet room’ for chilling out.
“Rehability have been brilliant and eventually we would like to find out our own premises where we can offer these services.
“When we looked around to try and find such a service the nearest thing we could find was in Cookstown so we went ahead and decided to set something up ourselves.
“Now that we have registered as a charity we are looking at fundraising and approaching the major funders who may be able to offer grants.”
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person's social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.
It's estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD.
More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls and speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions can help children and parents.