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Social skills programme strengthens family relationships.

Providing outreach and support services to families and whānau of autistic children, almost a fifth of the Children’s Autism Foundation’s outreach consultations are with families on the North Shore.

Last year they successfully applied to the North Shore Fund for a grant to support autistic children on the North Shore develop social and friendship skills through their 'Join In' programme.

Thanks to this funding the Children's Autism Foundation ran six sessions of the 9-week programme, each facilitated by an experienced clinical staff member.

Jo Sutton, the CAF General Manager and mother of an autistic child, says the group format of the programme encourages participants to communicate and learn together in a calm, supportive environment.

"Join In gives children and young people with autism the opportunity to socialise in a meaningful way, and to develop important skills – such as dealing with anxiety, and social skills and behaviour – that help them to fully participate in their family and school life."

"The programme also helps the families and whānau to gain a greater understanding of autism and their child. Parents frequently tell us that our support services have significantly improved their family relationships and dynamics."

"We've had overwhelmingly positive feedback from the programme; participants have seen an improvement in outcomes relating to behavioural management, and parents and caregivers report a reduction in stress and anxiety. There's now a substantial waiting list for the programme and are exploring how we can best meet this need."

"The grant also helped us to run 20 individual outreach consultations, free of charge, to families on the Shore - meaning we could provide support to those families without the stress of cost, time or an unfamiliar environment for their child."

"A huge thank you to the North Shore Fund for recognising the importance of our work and supporting us."

Photo supplied by the Children’s Autism Foundation.