A charity that runs courses to help parents and carers of children and young adults with disabilities recently celebrated another year of good work at its AGM.
Berkshire based charity Parenting Special Children organises workshops and courses including Time Out Programmes for special needs, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and understanding ADHD, a diagnosis support service where families are offered help and support if their child has recently been diagnosed with any type of additional need or disability and Sleep Service.
During its AGM, held on October 23, Sleep Practitioner Catherine Greeves explained how people with autism had the highest diagnosis of sleep problems in the population. Families who contact the charity commonly say that lack of sleep is one of the big problem areas they face.
Parenting Special Children run a Sleep Service with practitioners trained at Southampton’s NHS Sleep Clinic.
“The sleep service has three main aims,” said Catherine. “We give evidence based care, help children and young people get a good night’s sleep and promote the message that sleep is very important for health and wellbeing.”
The charity runs sleep workshops for parents, carers and professionals and have just received funding from the Big Lottery to run workshops about the value of sleep in schools.
Guest speaker for the evening was Dr Fiona Knott from the University of Reading who explained about the link between anxiety and autism.
“The impact of anxiety on kids with autism is the biggest issue they face and has the biggest impact on their lives.” she said.
“Anxiety levels in children in the general population is about 5%,” Dr Knott said.
“But anxiety levels in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) averages at 50% and the severity of the anxiety is much higher.”
The reason these anxiety levels are higher isn’t understood.
“We can guess why,” said Dr Knott.
“People with autism have a different way of making sense of the world – they have a sensory sensitivity and tend to think in a black and white, literal way. They are very much ‘of the moment’.
“Symptoms in children who are not verbal are hard to recognise.” she said.
“There is a big overlap between the symptoms of anxiety and ASD.”
To find out more about the Sleep Service, the work and research being carried out by Dr Knott or would like to talk to someone about parenting a special child call Ruth Pearse on 07876 275731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out more about Parenting Special Children at its website.