Taunton Autism Support Group

Local Support and Resources

About Us

The Group

Taunton Autism Support Group is a support group for parents and carers of children and young people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the Taunton area.

It was established in 2005 by a group of professionals involved in the field, who felt that there was a need to provide peer and professional support to parents and carers of children with Autism and Asperger’s in the vicinity. The group is now run by parents / carers.

We have around 60 people registered but many of these parents / carers are unable to attend meetings for a variety of reasons. This is why we feel that a website is imperative for the group to initiate contact with as many people and as effectively as possible.

The aim of this website is to both maintain links with members and to provide links to services and other relevant groups and organisations. We also want to provide useful general and local information and peer experience.

We hope that the website will be able to act as a vital resource and point of reference for families with children and young people on the Autistic Spectrum in Taunton and surrounding areas, both at the point of diagnosis and beyond.

Our Meetings

We meet monthly, usually on the last Friday of the month, term time only between 10am and 12 noon.

Our venue is generally the Cosy Club, Corporation Street, Taunton, which is a spacious and accommodating coffee shop. We will sometimes use the Meeting Room in the Learning Support Centre at Selworthy School, Selworthy Road, Taunton if we are inviting a speaker. The details will be on the home page of this website each month. In the past these have been Educational Psychologists, Dieticians, Occupational Therapists. Speech and Language Therapists, Homeopaths ,NAS and others. When there is not a speaker the meeting is equally informal and we take the opportunity for a chat and the chance to share experiences, tips and ideas!

We would be pleased to hear suggestions and recommendations for future speakers.

All talks are free and all are welcome.

A Friendly Welcome

We understand that it can be daunting to walk into a room or coffee shop looking for a group of people you do not know!

It can also be difficult following a recent diagnosis to talk to a group of strangers about your family situation!

We understand this and are an inclusive, welcoming and friendly group and would encourage anyone to come along to a meeting and try us out!

Alternatively, feel free to phone or email for a chat instead and get to know one of us prior to considering attending a meeting.

We all have similar and yet very different experiences and sharing ideas and information can be useful. Many members have found the realisation that you are not alone and that others share similar highs and lows can be beneficial too.

Organisers

Angela Smith

Angela is a lone parent with two children on the Autistic Spectrum. She has been ‘living with Autism’ since 2000 and has a range of experience – particularly in early intervention, educational issues, coping, behavioural and communication strategies.

She has been a parent representative on various LA committees including the SEN Review and the Autism Strategy Group and is a past chair of the Somerset Parent Carer forum

Her daughter is on the severe end of the spectrum and goes to Special School. Her son is high functioning and attends mainstream secondary.

She was fortunate enough to obtain funding for the children to work on an extremely successful Applied Behavioural Analysis Home Programme (ABA/Loovas). The primary purpose of this early intervention is to teach children how to learn and the curriculum covers language, play, academic skills, self help, theory of mind and social skills. Targeted skills are broken down into small attainable steps and built upon. Instruction is highly personalised and is supervised by experienced practitioners.

Her children are also on a Gluten and Casein free diet, which she feels has made a significant difference in improving concentration and reducing self stimulatory activities.

Angela also works part time at Selworthy School as one of the managers of the Learning Support Centre and also leading a team of parents supporting other parent carers in the school.

Angela co-runs TASG with Maryann Hollebon.

Maryann Hollebon

Maryann and her husband have three children, two of which are on the Autistic Spectrum.

Her two boys were diagnosed in 2002 and 2004 – the eldest is high-functioning and, after
attending mainstream school, is now studying at university.

Her other son has Asperger’s Syndrome and, after attending mainstream school, is currently
studying at A-level.

Maryann’s husband often works away during the week and, with no other family to rely on,
meeting other families and parent/carers with Autistic children really helps.

Maryann has found that supporting and setting up self help groups has given her the chance
to develop and learn strategies to better cope with her family’s special needs.

Maryann is a member of the NAS and has attended various NAS workshops.

Along with Angela Smith she runs the TASG and previously helped to set up a local activity group, ESCAPE, which supports and encourages families, carers/parents of children with all disabilities to get out and about.