New service to help children with autism

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A new service to promote good mental health in primary-aged children with autism is being launched in South Yorkshire.

The National Autistic Society’s EarlyBird Healthy Minds Programme has been set up to pre-empt and prevent potential mental health problems by providing parents with knowledge and practical skills to better support their children’s emotional wellbeing.

Research from the charity found that 71 per cent of children with autism also have an accompanying mental health problem, although many of the problems can be prevented if given the right support.

The EarlyBird Centre, in Dodworth, near Barnsley, will train and license autism professionals to offer the Healthy Minds programme.

Sessions will help parents and carers to understand mental health issues and give them strategies to support their children to build self-esteem, increase confidence, reduce anxiety and develop resistance.

Jo Stevens, director of NAS Early Bird Centre, said: “Far too many children with autism struggle with mental health conditions across the UK.

“This is deeply saddening, especially when these issues are often preventable.

“We are launching Healthy Minds to equip parents and professionals with knowledge and strategies to help reduce the risk of children developing mental health conditions, either now or at a later age.

“We’ve already been inundated with requests from parents looking for advice on how to help their children and are hoping to support 2,500 families a year through our professional licensed training programme.

“With the right support at the right time, children and adults with autism can live the life they choose.”