Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Supported by: Lockyers Commercial Ltd


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. Each person with ASD is affected differently. Help can involve hours of intensive work which can lead to a great deal of pressure on families, causing practical problems and emotional issues.

There is no cure for ASD but through Beat Autism there is hope.

Recently, the charity received a grant to fund a specialist Speech and Language Therapist to support 36 children. The funding has come to an end. £10,000 from the Aviva Community Fund will allow this valuable work to continue for a further 6 months.

Sharon’s first son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 7 years old, her second son was diagnosed with Severe Classic Autism when he was 5. The family had lots of questions, but as little help was available they set out to find their own answers. Part of this journey included raising funds to train in the Son-Rise Programme which is based on parent led, relationship-based play therapy. The programme also aims to educate parents to see the world through the eyes of their autistic child. Since starting down this road, Sharon has also gained Diplomas in Child Psychology, Autism, and Child Behaviour and is studying Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Sharon’s elder son now holds down a regular job, drives his own car and has a long-term girlfriend. His younger brother can now speak in small sentences and has moved forward to become a happier, less frustrated young person.
The Firth family set up Beat Autism to share their personal experience and learning from Son-Rise with other parents in the Wakefield area who are dealing with this challenging condition. The charity has grown and reaches out to over 100 families in the area who can share their own experiences and learn from each other through various support groups and activities. Sharon runs Beat Autism from home and has no paid support staff. Fundraising is an ongoing problem.
These relaxed informal meetings are held twice a week and cover a range of topics including: Behaviour, Communication, Benefits and Entitlements as well as offering the opportunity to discuss individual issues.
Open to families with autistic children. The children and their siblings can join private soft play sessions, Autism Club (bouncy castle, craft and sensory play, bowling and yoga), Music Interaction and Lego Club.
Dads can meet monthly for a chance to talk to other Dads living in the same challenging situation.

The Speech and Language Therapist has focused on 2 issues.
1) The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) was introduced to young people with limited or no speech. PECS is a 6-stage programme which starts by teaching the young person how to initiate social interaction with single pictures and progresses through constructing a sentence to responding to questions. The system has been shown to increase communication skills and begin to develop speech.
2) Young people with ASD often have problems with social interaction and can be prey to bullying which in turn can lead to petty crime. The therapist worked with older children with verbal skills and high levels of anxiety.
“This young man is extremely depressed and extremely low. The young person on the surface is very articulate and it’s hard to unpick his feelings. By doing assessments on this young man we have found that his understanding of language is extremely delayed and that is what is causing his depression. He feels that he can’t say that he doesn't understand what people are saying to him as he is cool and that would make him look stupid. We intend to do a large piece of work with this young man to bridge the gap and work on his confidence and self-esteem”.

Vote for Beat Autism – help families living with ASD.

Beat Autism

Moment of Pride

Lockyers are supporting Beat Autism because:
• The Firth family did not give in and are passionate about helping other parents
• Sharon is running this amazing support network in addition to caring for her own family
• The specialist Therapist has already started to help local young people

Location: Wakefield