What would you do if you had a child with autism, and you couldn’t find a suitable support group to take some weight off your shoulders?
Faced with that very conundrum, Bognor mum of three Louise Morley-Brooks decided to set up the Autism and Send Support group.
After being named Best Community Person at last week’s Observer Community Awards, Louise revealed that she became founder of the group due to ‘a lack of support’ for the condition.
She said: “I started the group after being unable to find support for my own family. There just isn’t enough support out there for people with autism.
“I have three children. My oldest, Charlotte (16), has autism, and my youngest, Harry (5) is showing signs of having ADHD. He is on the spectrum but has not been diagnosed with autism.
“It was a way of helping my own children and other people as well.”
Along with other local mums, Louise said she wanted to create an ‘informal group’ that people didn’t have to pay to go to.
She added: “It is for parents with children who have learning disabilities. We want everyone to get the support they need.
“We run fun activities for children with autism and special educational needs (SEN) as well as their parents.
“We wanted it to be inclusive so everybody can come.
“We had a Halloween and arts&crafts day, and we ran a big Christmas fair. We now want to set up a summer fair.”
Having set up a parent support group in Bognor in February, the group has now expanded to Chichester.
“It only started in February but it has been growing and growing,” Louise continued.
“We had three volunteers at first but we have seven now at different capacities. We have 350 people in our Facebook page and 150 private members.”
Louise, who said she is working towards a degree in social work at the University of Chichester. revealed plans to ‘branch out and open a centre in Littlehampton’.
She said: “We want to bring in an after school club for children as an extension of our holiday club. Their parents can get support too.
“We are [also] setting up a young adult support group in 2019.
“They need support too. We aim to run activities and days out for them too, so they can meet new friends and spend time with people in the same position.
“We want to turn into a charity organisation, hopefully by the end of next year.”