Parents of autistic children aim to safeguard threatened Asdrel service in Grimsby
THE parents of autistic children affected by the closure of the Asdrel service in Grimsby hope to set up a new service to replace it.
Parents have been in talks with the Rock Foundation following the announcement that North East Lincolnshire Council was withdrawing the service, which is based at the former Western Technology School building.
The charity, which provides support for people with learning disabilities, has already given them a room to hold weekly support group meetings in.
Now they are looking at setting up some form of professional support service for autistic young people aged 16 and over.
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As reported, the council announced that Asdrel would close its doors for good on March 29 – more than a year after parents launched a campaign to save the service.
It said that in future, support would be provided to children through their mainstream school.
However, parents say that many autistic children cannot cope in a mainstream classroom, and will probably end up being excluded.
Caroline Jones, 45, of Cleethorpes, whose 19-year-old son Thomas used to attend Asdrel and now volunteers at the centre, said: "Although Asdrel is closing, as parents we are still facing the same problems. That is why it is so important we continue to meet and give each other support.
"There is a wide range of ages so some of us have been through all those problems – and are still going through it – but others are just starting on that journey.
"Autism causes problems with siblings and tensions with family members. If things aren't going well in school it's the parents who bear the brunt of it.
"We are hoping to set up a 16-plus group first and then possibly a session for school-age children."
Michelle Rudland, 50, of Cleethorpes, whose 17-year-old son Adam attends Asdrel, said: "He has been going full time because he couldn't cope at Cambridge Park. They helped him with his schoolwork and it still upsets him that it is closing.
"It's very good to meet the other parents. We have known each other for years and we trust each other."
Trish Stockton, 52, of Cleethorpes, whose 18-year-old daughter Enya used to attend Asdrel, said: "She would come out of school one afternoon a week to de-stress.
"She is now at Linkage College which is an amazing place, but after she leaves in July I don't know what the future holds. There is no Asdrel to go back to.
"It's important that this group stays together. There is no magic wand but we can all share our experiences and help each other."
Melanie Herring, 38, of Immingham, whose eight-year-old son Joe attended Asdrel, added: "It's very important to keep this going. It really helps to have the support of someone who has experienced what you are going through."
Keep checking your Telegraph for updates.