Fam­i­lies’ fear as autism ser­vice faces cash cri­sis

Strathearn Herald - - STRATHEARN VIEW - Iain Howie

Mo­ti­vated mums and dads are ral­ly­ing to the cause to save Perth Autism Sup­port af­ter be­ing plunged into uncer­tainty.

The char­ity an­nounced on Thurs­day night last week it needs around £120,000 to help keep its core work afloat af­ter ini­tial re­quests for fi­nan­cial sup­port to Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil and NHS Tay­side were re­peat­edly turned down, it says.

At the time, hun­dreds of ser­vice users – in­clud­ing sev­eral based in Strat­hearn – were told that all ser­vices would be sus­pended from Fri­day. A large turnout of users filled the char­ity’s head­quar­ters in Perth on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

The cri­sis led to calls from both users’ par­ents and politi­cians for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, the NHS and PKC to step in and en­sure its cru­cial work con­tin­ues.

On Mon­day their ef­forts were boosted by news that PAS has se­cured Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment fund­ing to see its ser­vices through the next quar­ter.

Angie Fer­gu­son, the char­ity’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We are de­lighted at the quick re­sponse from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to en­sure our fam­i­lies can ac­cess ser­vices again im­me­di­ately and this sup­port al­lows us time to work with Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil to en­sure con­tin­ued sus­tain­abil­ity af­ter the next quar­ter.”

Since the news was first re­vealed a pe­ti­tion, of­fers of do­na­tions and just giv­ing char­ity page have been set up, while a num­ber of lo­cal busi­nesses have of­fered to help out.

The pe­ti­tion, which will be de­liv­ered to NHS Tay­side and Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil, calls for fund­ing sup­port for PAS. It has been signed by thou­sands of peo­ple.

Gemma Mills from Cri­eff, who has two sons with autism, has been sup­ported by PAS and has won awards for her fundrais­ing in aid of the char­ity, started an on­line fun­dras­ing page via www.just­giv­ing.com.

She ex­plained what PAS means to her and her fam­ily: “Help­ing with school meet­ings, ad­vice, chats, fun and clubs that my boys can go to where the staff are trained and fully un­der­stand autism. With­out this or­gan­i­sa­tion my boys have no out-of-school ac­tiv­i­ties to at­tend, we as a fam­ily have no sup­port or any­where to turn for ad­vice. This scares me.”

Muthill mum Mairi MacDon­ald said: “My son has been a part of Perth Autism Sup­port since 2011.

“PAS has had a huge im­pact on his devel­op­ment. We would have a very dif­fer­ent boy and a very dif­fi­cult fam­ily life with­out the sup­port and as­sis­tance we have re­ceived from PAS.

“Now at Cri­eff High School, my son at­tended a ru­ral pri­mary school where he had lim­ited ac­cess to ad­di­tional sup­port. There was no sup­port-for­learn­ing base, or staff with spe­cial­ist knowl­edge of autism spec­trum dis­or­ders. PAS helped fill that gap for us. He is now ap­proach­ing his 13th birth­day and we need this sup­port to con­tinue if he is to be­come an in­de­pen­dent adult.”

She con­tin­ued: “In terms of PAS’s im­pact on my son’s devel­op­ment, we had a big break­through when, af­ter at­tend­ing a term of mu­sic ther­apy, he be­gan to re­spond when spo­ken to. Also af­ter sev­eral ses­sions of Lego ther­apy, his teach­ers no­ticed a big im­prove­ment in his abil­ity to un­der­stand and carry out class­room in­struc­tions.”

Mairi added: “My son reg­u­larly par­tic­i­pates in the out­reach pro­gramme run by PAS in Cri­eff, where he at­tends ac­tiv­i­ties that would oth­er­wise be off-lim­its – it is a para­dox that his dis­abil­ity ex­cludes him from the very things (such as sports clubs and af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties) would ben­e­fit him.

“Strate­gies sug­gested by PAS have helped enor­mously – they rec­om­mended sleep­ing un­der a weighted blan­ket and now he gets much more sleep (and the rest of the fam­ily have a more peace­ful time in the evening).

“Through PAS, he has en­joyed sev­eral res­i­den­tial ac­tiv­ity week­ends at Teen Ranch. These trips have un­doubt­edly helped him reach a greater de­gree of in­de­pen­dence. Be­fore PAS, our sup­port came from oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy, speech and lan­guage ther­apy and par­ent to par­ent. Since our in­volve­ment with PAS, we have felt no need to con­tact these ser­vices/agen­cies.”

Cam­paign Gemma Mills, pic­tured with Scot­land’s Ma­gi­cian dur­ing a pre­vi­ous Perth Autism Sup­port fundraiser in Cri­eff

Con­cern Fam­i­lies gath­ered at Perth Autism Sup­port’s base shortly af­ter the news broke last week

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.