Family Voice Conference 2019

An information sharing day for parents/carers with over 40 information stalls, speed dating sessions and talks from professionals.

ASD Helping Hands was on hand to offer parents and carers information about our services, give on the spot advice and selling a selection of of our books and sensory toys. It was also a great chance to meet up with some other organisations and professionals that we have worked closely with including SEND Partnership and Rebekah Muttitt from Child and Adolescent Mental Health services. The day started with a Keynote speech from Sara Tough Executive Director of Children’s Services where she explained the current demand for children’s services, the current and raising demand for special educational needs interventions around education in Norfolk and how Norfolk Children’s Services are going to adapt and redesign to meet these demands. Parents and Carers were also given the chance to voice their concerns and ask questions directly to Sara around SEND provisions. It was good to hear that plans are being made to invest money in the creation of up to four new SEND in Norfolk something that is much needed to meet the demand.

After the key note speech attendees then had a chance to view the information stands and attend a variety of talks from leading professionals. ASD Helping Hands attended two workshops the first, run by Alan Hunter, with regards to the ASD Pathway within in Norfolk. It is positive to see that the waiting period from referral to first assessment has dropped dramatically and that it is reported no family is waiting longer than 52 weeks until their assessment and just 30 families are having to wait over 18 weeks. Some concerns were voiced around post diagnostic support for parents/carers and their families, we were informed that a trial for a new support service title ‘Puffin’ had just been completed and we should expect to see the results of this very soon. ASD Helping Hands has recognised the need for a post diagnostic support package for parents/carers, however we wanted to take this one step further and offer the same support to those who are on the waiting list as well as those who have just received a diagnosis. In light of this we have created Just Diagnosed? a 4 week workshop for parents and carers of children who have ASD or suspected of having ASD. For full details and to register you interest please click here

The second workshop we attended was lead by Rebakah Muttitt and Mark Gower which was a question and answer session on Child & Adolescent Mental Health. The conversation was dominated by support for those on the spectrum with questions such as ‘ why can’t my child with ASD access CAMHS services?’ and ‘Why is there

Photo provided by Family Voice

such long wait for CAMHS Services?’. ASD Helping Hands queried the training practitioners had for ASD and we were told that all staff have a basic awareness training with other staff having access to a level 3. CAMHS said they could do more to ensure that practitioners are able to adapt their therapies to best benefit those with ASD. A brief explanation of the CAMHS service was also provided and the tier system explained. For more information on CAMS service in Norfolk please click here (PDF Download)

Our information stall saw a steady stream of parents and carers looking for support for their families with a variety of queries from Disability Discrimination, benefits advice around appeals and educational issues relating to SEN provision and Educational Health and Care Plans. Many who we were able to help there on the day or have been advised to contact our family support team. We also sold a lot of our sensory toys and books all which are available on our shop so be sure to check it out and why not become a supporter of ASD Helping Hands and receive a discount on all our shop item as well as our resource packs.

Another great and enjoyable day at the Family Voice Conference (even if myself and all the volunteers did come

back and collapse). I would just like to say a massive thank you to our volunteers who helped on the day and prepare everything before hand (the balloons were there idea!) If you enjoyed the conference or weren’t able to make it ensure you register your interest for Ageing With Autism, ASD Helping Hands annual conference in October. Details and to register can be found here.

Did you attend the Family Voice conference? Did you learn anything you want to share with other parents/carers or any concerns from the day be sure to leave a comment below.

We are looking forward to next years conference already.