A Forfar family has hailed a unique national support programme that provides help for autistic children as a “lifesaver”.
The National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Daldorch Family Support Programme has produced dramatic results in families affected by autism through individually tailored methods including an expanded information helpline, autism seminar training and one-to-one guidance in the family home.
Based at Daldorch House School in Ayrshire, it operates throughout Scotland and has helped more 1,800 families since it was established in 2011 with £550,000 of Big Lottery Funding.
Karen Hood’s six-year-old daughter Corinna was diagnosed with autism last year and her younger daughter, three-year-old Eilidh, is being assessed for the condition.
She said: “I had a vague idea that people with autism were either very quiet and withdrawn, or shouted and flapped their arms about. Corrina definitely didn’t fit into either of those categories. So when her speech therapist said she thought Corrina might have autism I was horrified. I just went home and cried.
“I built up a picture where Corrina would never have the opportunity to support herself. She would never go to college, find a job, have friendships or meet someone and settle down.
“I can honestly say the Family Support Programme pulled me out of that deep, dark hole. As parents we share our difficult experiences at the Family Support Programme and that’s really important. But we also celebrate our lovely, unique children and recognise that you can have autism, and a bright future too.”
Karen is now joining 10 Scottish families who are sharing their success stories with their MSPs to raise awareness of their daily challenges and to encourage high-level support for the programme’s work.