Support builds for autism group

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 14:45 30/08/2011

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Support groups for parents whose children have autism disorders are sprouting up across the region since Autism Waikato went into recess.

Until last month, the branch had six full time staff – along with many volunteers – offering information, parenting and education training and social skills, from Coromandel to Turangi.

Now the Hamilton-based branch, has just one staff member – an administrator – but Autism NZ hopes to add another staffer by the end of the year.

In an email to around 760 members in July, Autism NZ president Wendy Duff said the Waikato branch had lost $16,000 in the 2009/10 year, while its 2011 loss was likely around $43,000. The branch needs $250,000 a year to operate.

Former field worker Barbara Chote said parents and former staff had set up their own parent support groups.

She said she was still responding to her former clients and contacts on an as-need basis.

Autism NZ chief executive Alison Molloy told the Waikato Times the branch had not closed completely and she hoped to employ a second staff member – a field worker – before Christmas.

School holiday programmes and teenage and adult support groups were also still operating.

Ms Molloy said the organisation had received a good response from the Waikato public, with a number of volunteers putting their hand up to help, and it had also been the co-beneficiary from funds raised by the Waikato hospital revue earlier this month.

A new committee, to help with fundraising and encourage staff, is also hoped to set up soon.

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