Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Autism Centre to Provide Support for the Duration of the Lives of Its Users; Service Offers Occupational Therapy, Mental Health Expertise and Peer Interaction for All Ages

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Autism Centre to Provide Support for the Duration of the Lives of Its Users; Service Offers Occupational Therapy, Mental Health Expertise and Peer Interaction for All Ages

Article excerpt

Byline: HANNAH GRAHAM Reporter hannah.graham@reachplc.com @HannahGraham21

PEOPLE with autism are to receive lifelong support from a new service in South Shields.

The new Autism Hub, opened by the mayor and mayoress of South Tyneside this month, will offer occupational therapy, mental health help and peer support for people with the condition throughout the area.

Councillors say they're responded to a need created by an above-average number of people with an autism diagnosis in the borough, as parents, carers and those with a diagnosis told the council they needed more local support.

One of those who can't wait to start using the new hub is little Jak Brunton and his mum Jay.

For Jak, who turns four on Monday, regular sessions at a Toby Henderson Trust centre in Bedlington have been a lifeline, helping him connect with his family and supporting them as they understand his needs.

The Jarrow family travel at least once a week to Northumberland for invaluable one-to-one sessions, so the opening of a hub close to home in South Shields will make a huge difference to their lives.

Jak was born just 25 weeks into pregnancy, weighing just 1lb 6oz.

After four months in hospital he came home, still battling a number of health problems. But it wasn't long before Jay and husband Matthew realised there was something else different about their little boy.

Jay said: "We have two older girls, and we couldn't quite put our finger on it but there was something just different about Jak.

"He was diagnosed with autism when he was two, which was a really early diagnosis. When the diagnosis came in we told ourselves 'Right, just get on with that', but the Toby Henderson Trust really do support you as a family. It's not just Mum and Dad either, they were really interested in getting the girls involved, and finding out what is important to us as a family. When they said they were coming over to South Tyneside it was amazing, because these people are just so on top of their game with autism. It is their bread and butter and they are absolutely experts in that field. It was a service that was missing in this area so it's amazing to have the hub here.

"They're always at the end of the phone and they give you that confi-dence as a parent that you can do this.

"They make you feel like you're not alone."

At first, understanding Jak was a struggle for those closest to him. …

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