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Support for parents of children with autism


If your child has not yet been diagnosed with autism but you want to pursue a formal diagnosis please see more information below:

Information, advice and support for parents/carers

Gateshead's Local Offer gives children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs or disabilities, including autism, and their families information about what support services are available in and around Gateshead. It contains a section specifically written for parents/carers, a searchable online service directory, information about the SEND support and what support is available.

There are a number of services, organisations and people in Gateshead that can provide you with independent information and advice:

This service directory highlights local, regional and national services and organisations, some of which are autism-specific:

Gateshead's Autism Information Hub

Gateshead's Autism Information Hub, based at The Elgin Children's Centre offers resources about autism and a monthly face to face information and signposting service to people with autism and their families/carers. You will find a wide variety of helpful resources available covering a range of topics such as diagnosis, sensory differences, anxiety, sleep and social skills. The face-to-face signposting/information sessions provide an opportunity to speak to a professionally trained autism specialist and talk through any queries. A parent is also available to speak to and new parents are very welcome to come along for a cuppa and a chat.    

Face to face sessions are held on the third Monday every month 9.30 - 11.30am (next sessions are 18 November 2019,16 December 2019, 20 January 2020, 17 February 2020, 16 March 2020 and 20 April 2020).  

A parent of a child with autism has written a helpful guide for parents wishing to claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their autistic child. If you would like a copy of the guide, you can come along to the next Monday session, or alternatively:


Directions to the Elgin Children's Centre and opening times can be found by visiting: 

More information: Autism Information Hub

Autism training for parents/carers

Free training programmes are available for parents/carers of children and young people living in Gateshead with a diagnosis of autism.

Staff from Gateshead's Early Years Support (0-4 years) and Speech and Language Therapy Service offer 'Early Bird' training which is designed for parents/carers of pre-school children (0-four years) with a diagnosis of autism.  For more information Tel: 0191 433 8544 or Email:

'Early Bird' training is aimed at families of a child with autism between the age of four and eight years and 'Cygnet' training is for families of a child/young person with autism between the age of five and 18 years.

The training programmes aim to empower parents and carers to develop an understanding of autism and to gain knowledge of the supportive strategies that can be used with their child. Programmes are led by qualified and experienced autism specialist teachers from Gateshead's Special Educational Needs Improvement Team

Parents can self-refer onto the training course and a referral form can be downloaded below. For more info, contact Beverley Murphy phone: 0191 433 8530 (answer phone service), email:

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) runs regular 6-week free training workshops for parents, carers and other family members who have someone with autism in their life. More info: Tel: 0191 410 9974 or 07825 585 313 Email:

Autism Parent Support Group

Gateshead's Autism Information Hub has a spin-off support group for parents and carers affected by autism.
The group will meet between 9.30 - 11.30am on the first Friday of each month at the Elgin Children's Centre:

All parents and carers are welcome to join the group for mutual support and information-sharing about their autism experiences

For further details please contact

Support at Nursery or School 

We want children with autism to get the right support as early as possible to help them develop to their full potential at nursery, school and beyond. 

Nurseries and early years providers in Gateshead must have arrangements in place in order to identify as early as possible if a child has additional needs (including autism) and to provide relevant support for them using their own budget. If your child is already at nursery and you feel they need additional support, speak to a member of staff at the nursery about what support is available. You can ask to see a copy of their SEND Information report which explains how they identify and provide support for children with additional needs. Gateshead Council also commissions a special team called the Early Years Support (0-4 years) which helps nurseries and early years providers with the assessment of and provision of intervention, support and reviews for children identified as needing additional significant help.    

Schools and academies also have responsibilities to identify whether children have additional needs and to provide appropriate timely support and this should be explained in their SEND School Information report, which you can request directly from the school or find on their website. The Council also commissions a specialist team called the Special Educational Needs Improvement Team (SENIT), a team made up of specialist teachers and teaching assistants, which works with schools and academies to ensure that children and young people identified as having additional needs receive the right support at the right time.

More information:  Education provision

You can find information about the range of specialist educational provision and support available for school-age children with autism in Gateshead here: Specialist educational provision

Information about home education can be found here: Home Education

NHS Little Orange Book

The Icon for pdf The Little Orange Book [6.7MB] contains tips and advice on how to manage common illnesses and problems that babies and young children often experience in the first five years of their lives. It also has more information on more serious conditions, what to look out for and how to get help.

Visiting the dentist

The National Autism Society has published some really useful information about preparing for a dentist in recognition that this can be a stressful time for both children with autism and their parents:   

Childcare, out of school clubs, parent support groups and social/leisure opportunities  

  • FACETS - Specialist Short Breaks Scheme for children and young people with Autism

Gateshead Council commissions a specialist short breaks scheme for children and young people with autism and associated learning disabilities/behaviours that challenge. This scheme is called FACETS (Families and Children Empowered Through Specialist Support).

The holiday scheme runs 9.30am - 3.30pm Monday to Friday during all school holidays (excluding the Christmas period and bank holidays). The service caters for children and young people aged five-17 with autism and associated learning disabilities/behaviours that challenge. All children who access the scheme have undergone a Child In Need (social care) assessment which has identified that they require specialist service provision. 

For more information you can contact your child's social worker (if they currently have one).

  • Family Information Service

Gateshead's Family Information Service offers free, confidential and impartial advice and guidance to parents and carers on childcare (registered and un-registered) and early years services in Gateshead, free entitlement to early years provision and about childcare settings that have experience in offering services to children with special educational needs and disabilities. For more information phone 0191 433 5118 or email

  • The Twisting Ducks Theatre Company

The Twisting Ducks Theatre Company makes entertaining, accessible and informative drama about issues that are important to the company and to people with learning disabilities. They offer a range of arts projects, accessible to people with learning disabilities and autism including: 

- Spectrum - an autism theatre group based at Northern Stage for adults with autism spectrum disorders who live or work in Newcastle upon Tyne.  

- Fee-based academies for people aged 16+ with learning disabilities and/or autism, including Band Academy, Dance Academy, Performing Arts Academy and DJ Academy.  

There is also a bi-monthly theatre night and film night and a monthly gig night and live karaoke at Dance City on the third Tuesday of each month. A club night called 'Fresh' also runs at World Headquarters in Newcastle on the 1st Tuesday every month.

More info: Tel: 07925 167775  

  • Gateshead School Directory

Many schools and academies offer out of school clubs, some of which may be open to children that don't attend that particular school. You can contact schools and academies directly to find out what's on offer and whether they are able to provide appropriate support for your child. 

More information: School directory

  • Active Kidz

Gateshead Council's Play Service runs the Active Kidz Holiday Play Scheme during school holiday periods, some of which are available for children with autism to access. Places are limited and must be booked in advance. Phone 0191 433 7117 for more information. 

  • Gateshead's Children s Centres

Gateshead Council's Childrens Centres offer a variety of activities for children and young people and families. Most are accessible and inclusive and some are specifically designed for those with SEN and disabilities. Phone 0191 433 6300 for more information.

  • Social and Leisure opportunities

In Gateshead and across the North East there are a range of social and leisure activities you and your child can choose to take part in. If you have a key supporter they can advise you about activities that are suitable for your child, delivered by people who are experienced and trained in supporting children with additional needs and disabilities.

More information: Play and leisure time (0-25 years)

  • Gateshead Network of Children with Disabilities

Registering your child on the Gateshead Network of Children with Disabilities provides them with discounted access to leisure centres, swimming pools and cultural and historic places of interest in Gateshead. 

More information: Gateshead network of children with disabilities

If you are on Facebook or Twitter you may find it useful to Like the North East Autism Society Facebook and Twitter pages, where posts are uploaded regularly about activities happening in the North East and you will find other parents of children with autism.

More information: Facebook North East Autism Society

                             Twitter North East Autism Society

  • NE-AS parent support group @ Heworth Grange School

The North East Autism Society run a fortnightly support group for parents at Heworth Grange School, NE10 0PT from 6.00-7.00pm on a Thursday. Children are welcome.

More information: Email:     

  • NE-AS Parent and Toddler Groups

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) run the following weekly parent and toddler groups:

Tuesdays: 10am-12noon @ North East Centre for Autism, Newton Aycliffe, DL5 6UN 

Wednesdays: 9.30am-10.45am @ Pelton Children's Centre, DH2 1EZ

Fridays: 1.00pm-2.30pm @ Stanley Children's Centre, DH9 0AB 

  • NE-AS Gym Club @ Benfield Centre for Sporting Excellence

The North East Autism Society (Newcastle-Gateshead branch) runs a gym club for all ages and abilities twice a month on Sundays 4.00pm-5.30pm at Benfield Centre for Sporting Excellence, NE6 4NU.

Cost: £2 per child per session (suggested donation, siblings welcome and parents must stay to supervise children).

More information: Tel: 07920 086 299


  • The Toby Henderson Trust

The Toby Henderson Trust provides relevant, appropriate and accessible support for autistic young people from 2 to 20 years old, while also empowering parents, families and carers by sharing knowledge, experience and understanding.

The charity's focus is early pre-school intervention (age 2-7) to improve the long-term quality of life for both the autistic child and their family and carers.

More information: Tel: 01670 789753  Email:

Website: Toby Henderson Trust

  • Calvert Trust @ Kielder

The Calvert Trust enables people with disabilities, together with their families and friends, to achieve their potential through the challenge of outdoor adventure in the countryside.

More information: Tel: 01434 250232

Website: Calvert Trust @ Kielder

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