CHESHIRE BRANCH NEWSLETTER
Diary Of Forthcoming Events
Chester Aspergers Group Monday 22nd May
SPACE Monday 15th May
Cheshire Branch A.G.M. Thursday 25th May
Chester Aspergers Group Monday 26th
SPACE Monday 19th June
Chester Aspergers Group Monday 10th
SPACE Monday 17th
Grateful thanks goes to the Chester Telecoms Sports & Social Club
who raised an incredible £1211 by holding social events during the
last twelve months, (including some very enjoyable quiz nights!)
for their members. See separate report inside newsletter.
Thank you also to Mrs Jill Nasralla who has donated £60. We would also
like to thank Boots and the Zoo in Chester and Vue Cinemas and Mega
Bowl in Ellesmere Port for their raffle prizes.
We would like to thank Tescos in Chester for photocopying our Christmas
Once again valuable revenue has been raised from the sale of NAS
Christmas card sales, many thanks to Maggie Readman, Sue Cadman
and Julie Carter for all their efforts.
We have also received a generous donation of £500 from Shell. Many
Warrington Autistic Support Group
The Autistic Support Group in Warrington is now up and running again.
Parents of all children on the Autistic Spectrum (regardless of where they
appear on the spectrum) are welcome to attend. We are also quite happy to
welcome those who have children with any other special needs.
To be held at Green Lane Special School, Green Lane, Padgate,
Warrington, WA1 4JL at 7pm-8.30pm. A voluntary contribution of £1.00
at each meeting would be welcomed to build up funds to cover fees of
For further details please contact Anne-Marie Shepherd 01925 823326
For further information or just to find the date for the next social event
Gill Shaw on 01244 881386
On Sunday 26th February our SPACE group had a morning Ten Pin
Bowling in Macclesfield with around 30 parents and their children. I
would like to thank all those who attended this event, which I am sure you
will agree was a great way for the parents to meet other members children
and have a chat whilst taking part (hopefully not too many stiff arms the
next day!) The children really enjoyed themselves and seemed to mix very
well, there was some very professional bowling going on and competitive
spirit, and that was not just the parents. Sorry to Jack for me winning our
group, just had to get that one in! and also to all the winners on the other
teams – congratulations, Sian you played brilliantly. Should anyone be
interested in Bowling at Macclesfield, on a Sunday morning before 1pm
children can play one game for just £1.25 – bargain
SPACE will be organising other events throughout this year which involve
the children and in the summer we will arrange a day out to a park where
we can play football, cricket and any other games that the children would
like (or just run around) whilst the adults can “chill” (in my son‟s words),
picnics at the ready and as one member‟s husband said “maybe a few cans
or two”. Should you be interested in joining any of our events, please
either email me on the above address or ring me on 01625 877761 and I
will add you to our mailing list.
SPACE meets on the 3rd Monday of every month (excluding April –
Bank Holiday) at The Boarhound Public House, Macclesfield from 7.30-
9.30pm, if you are interested in attending, just turn up. We have a very
informal meeting where we can all chat about anything that is bothering
us and give advice and support.
I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Esther at Cheshire NAS
for all her support in helping get SPACE off the ground and for her
ongoing support, which is invaluable.
SPACE had a very interesting meeting this month. We invited a speaker,
Sandra Marston from Marston Associates to talk to us about “Stress”.
We all felt in previous meetings that it would be a good idea to invite a
professional in the field along to speak to us and give us some pointers of
how to stay calmer when the going gets tough and to manage our Stress
levels better. Sandra made us think about what Stress makes us feel like.
Sandra then went on to tell us exactly what Stress is:
Stress is an individual’s response to an inappropriate level of
Stress is a demand made upon the adaptive capacities of the mind and
body OR TO PUT SIMPLY
A Perceived inability to cope (I am sure we all know that feeling!)
Sandra then went into how to relieve the stress we were all feeling, and
one point she made was when to say “NO”. I am terrible at this and could
see myself always saying, Yes, no problem, any time, I‟ll do it, etc, etc.
She and other parents in the group explained how to say “NO” without
hurting other people‟s feeling and one Lady said she says, “Sorry I can‟t do
it today as I have too much on, but another time maybe”, I thought that
was great and how simple, so I must try it next time, thanks for that.
Other strategies and techniques given by Sandra were delegation, time
management, diet/exercise, relaxation, support and if all else fails either
see your GP or have some counselling! (I have Sandra‟s telephone number
if anyone needs it.)
We talked for around 2 hours and I certainly felt better about myself and
one thing that Sandra said for us all to take away with us was we don‟t
have to be the best Parent in the world, giving our children everything
they want, taking them everywhere they want to go all of the time, but
“Being Good Enough” is all that matters.
A now very calm,
We would like to thank Jane Moore for helping us access the
Carers’ special grant which funded the stress workshop.
Cheshire Aspergers Support Group
We are relieved to say that CASG has found a new venue! So all future
meetings will be held at St Michaels Church, Coniston Road (off Plas
Newton Lane), Newton, Chester with a new start time of 7:30pm.
Grateful thanks go to the team at St Michaels who agreed to a
substantially reduced rental. We will however have to raise both rental
and refreshments, and so are asking attendees for a suggested voluntary
donation of £1.00 per meeting. This means that Emily Miller’s talk on
Functional Analysis on 22nd May will now take place at St
Ronan Willis from the Cheshire Disabilities Federation is known by
many as an expert on Direct Payments. He will join us on June 26th to
explain the process involved and answer any questions.
On July 10th we will have a „focused discussion‟ on Summer Holidays.
Any recommendations for days out, holiday clubs and activities are
welcome, as are hints, tips and humorous tales from travels in the UK and
No meeting in August for obvious reasons!
On September 25th we will welcome Ann White (Cheshire Autism
Support and Development Team) and Angela Steadman (Parent
Partnership), who will explain changes in Autism educational provision,
and changes to the processes for securing your child‟s specific package of
provision/funding. If anyone has any questions or concerns about these
issues please e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will pass them
on to Ann and Angela to ensure that they are covered.
Cindy Seiler – on behalf of the:
Cheshire Aspergers Support Group Committee
Launch of Resource Library
Cheshire Autism Support and Development Team launched their new
resource library in March 2006. The library is at the team‟s base Rosebank
Cottage at Rosebank school Barnton near Northwich.
We have a variety of resources consisting of autism specific books ranging
from diagnosis to curriculum approaches; general special needs issues;
social skills and emotional literacy and whole school curriculum planning
resources for the whole school age range. We are developing our bank of
games, which are mainly focused around social skills and emotional
literacy for the whole age ranges.
The resource is primarily aimed at schools in order to develop their skills
and allow them to access resources on a trial basis.
Membership is an annual fee of £20 for groups/schools and £10 for
individuals. This entitles members to borrow 3 books and 1 game for a
three-week period. The idea is to enable schools to have a taster and then
if it has been particularly useful, school could buy their own copy.
Some schools have already joined and have found the resources useful,
some are already on their third loan! We will be continuously updating
and evaluating the resources available.
Any queries contact :
Cheshire Autism Support and Development Team
The Learning Disability Clinical Management Unit (CMU) is about to
undertake a project to gain feedback from service users about their
experiences of using the NHS. This project on „Health Stories‟ is being led
by Michele Bering who has recently taken up post as Consultant Nurse
looking at health access in Learning Disabilities.
Many service users with learning disabilities find it difficult to access
traditional feedback systems, such as PALS and Complaints and therefore
miss out on giving valuable feedback of their experiences.
Interviews will be held with service users in which they will be encouraged
to talk freely around their experiences of health care in their own words.
This feedback will then provide accurate evidence of what is going well
and where the problems are, to improve and develop services for the
It is also hoped that the health stories model could be adopted as a way of
obtaining service users‟ views for other projects in the future.
For further information contact:
Michele Bering, Consultant Nurse, Stalbridge Road Clinic, Crewe,
Let’s get arty!
A new Saturday morning art and craft club for young people with
disabilities has been launched at Mid Cheshire College, Northwich. It has
been developed in response to requests for a more regular programme of
arts and crafts activities for young people with disabilities and will
initially run for a period of 12 months. Art and craft workshops will take
place twice a month, on Saturday mornings from 10.00am to 11.00am,
before the popular Multi Sports Club - so participants can take part in
both activities if they want to! The sessions will be run by a professional
artist and will cater for a range of abilities and needs. Each hour-long
session will cost £1.00 and will include all materials. If you would like
more information about the club please contact Jennifer Shaw (Assistant
Arts Development Officer) at Vale Royal Borough Council on 01606
867976 or email: email@example.com
Becoming an Independent Parental Supporter
Just to introduce myself, my name is Lyndsey Griffith and I am Mum to
Luis who is five years old, and who is somewhere on the autistic spectrum
although not formally diagnosed.
I have recently qualified as a trained Independent Parental Supporter
(IPS) for Parent Partnership (PPS). This means I go and give advice,
information and support to parents with special educational needs (SEN)
on whatever level of support they feel they need, for however long they feel
they need it for. All information given to me is strictly 100% confidential.
I decided to train to be an IPS while attending the HELP course run by
the NAS. Both of these courses have proved to be invaluable to me for
many different reasons.
The HELP course enabled me to have a better understanding of who Luis
is and really got me to look at him in a different light and respect him and
his ways (however odd they may seem at times!). It also gave me lots of
information and useful advice on how to deal with different situations and
lots of different ways on how to get the best out of Luis. Everyone on the
Help course were all at different levels on their journey and sharing
stories about each other really helped too. We all also got a ring binder
full of all of the information and exercises we had done as well as being
given extra handouts including information on legislation, disability rights
benefits information and voluntary support groups and agencies including
PPS. We had a visit from Angela Steadman of PPS who came and gave
information on what PPS is all about and it was then that I decided to
become a volunteer IPS.
I attended a ten-week course in Frodsham and had to learn all about the
Code of Practice, disability rights, discrimination, the statementing
process and anything else that is involved in education and SEN. It was
such an eye opener but absolutely invaluable as the course applied to my
own circumstances as well as fulfilling my ambition to help other parents
in similar situations to mine.
Above all, both courses have filled many of the gaps and answered many of
the questions I was unable to, so instead of feeling lost and overwhelmed
as I did in the beginning I am now able to help myself on their journey
through SEN. It has also led me to attend other courses, all of which just
add more information to that I have already gained for me to help others.
BT Quiz Nights – Raising Funds for NAS Cheshire
31st January saw me and a few other stalwarts heading for The Custom
House in Chester for a pub quiz held by the BT Social Club. This was the
second one I‟d attended, all in aid of the NAS Cheshire Branch.
As we settled down we all agreed that we were “disabled” by not having
any of our Asperger‟s colleagues with us, who had previously saved the
day with their encyclopaedic knowledge of films/music etc! No, we were
just a team of neurotypicals, so probably didn‟t stand a chance. Picture the
scene as four of us poured over a map of Northern Europe and tried to
place the various areas named in the Shipping Forecast! Most of the time
was spent arguing over which Islands were the Shetlands/Orkneys/Outer
Hebrides….and this was the “warm up” exercise. Previously we had been
asked to fill in the squares on a Monopoly Board, and of course one of our
Asperger‟s boys did us proud on that one.
The music round was most revealing, in that it gave our ages away in an
instant! As the youngest in the group, I refused to say that I suspected the
Frank Sinatra song was actually sung by Dean Martin – and kicked
myself when I was right. I was terribly impressed by one of my colleagues
who knew the title of a Franz Ferdinand song, but she then completely
blew it by admitting to having been a member of the Slade Fan Club
(Julie, I‟ll never see you in the same light again!). None of us managed to
recognise Christopher Eccleston (the last Dr Who) in a photo, and my
shameful knowledge of geography became very apparent in recognising
the shape of various countries – fortunately my teammates were well
travelled. In the end we came joint second, and were beaten by the very
suspiciously named “Googlers”, who had a phenomenally high score – well
hidden remote internet link methinks (What? Me, a bad loser?).
Personally, I maintain that my brain is still floating around somewhere in
the Maternity Department at the Countess (honestly guys, it‟s gets worse
with each child!) But, despite mourning my loss of mental agility, the
night was well worth it: great fun, and I really got to know my fellow
Committee Members better. More importantly as a result of this night and
others, I thanked Eddie Nash and the BT Social Club at the end of the
night as they handed over a cheque for £1,211. This along with another
grant will enable us to run a conference later on this year – watch this
space! And on a more serious note, please remember that we rely almost
entirely on grants and fundraising, so please try to attend or help on these
occasions. Nothing we do is without cost – the more we raise, the more we
(recently referred to as your “raving reporter” – mistake or not?)
Next quiz is on Tuesday 6th June at 7.45, please come along and support.
Social Skills Groups In West Cheshire
West Cheshire now runs 3 different social skills groups thanks to funding
from various sources, gained by the efforts of Chester Crossroads.
The groups focus on teaching, practising and developing skills needed for
social interaction and independence. In addition to structured learning,
members have an opportunity to be part of a group and develop
friendships. All the groups are held on a monthly basis, and are run by a
qualified Speech and Language Therapist, Speech and Language Therapy
Assistant and a Crossroads Care Worker. There is a group for under 13‟s,
14-18‟s and a new adult group. The adult group is held in a function room
joined to a pub in Chester and the 2 other groups are held at the Croft in
The under 13‟s group was set up in December 2003 following need which
was identified locally for social skills training for young people with
Asperger‟s Syndrome. The funding was found by Chester Crossroads from
the Children‟s Fund. An average of 8 children attend this group every
month. Examples of recent topics covered include; anger management,
self-awareness, and understanding the importance of social skills. Future
plans will include working on areas of need identified by the group
members and their families, and transition to secondary school for year-6
members. A communication book is used to help keep parents informed
and make any comments, and to support their children with carry-over
This group was established in March 2005 following the success of the
under 13‟s group. The group has funding secured for 1 complete year and
Chester Crossroads are attempting to secure more funding in order to
continue this group after March 2006. The group has had an average of 7
members over the past 9 months.
The skills, which have been focused on in this group, have been those
identified as areas of difficulty by the members and their families. These
have included: Making new friendships, confidence and assertiveness,
organising a party, understanding fact and opinion and persuasion.
Future plans will include working on understanding Asperger‟s and
Adult Social Skills Project
A need for social skills input has long since been identified for adults with
Asperger‟s Syndrome in the area. This group is the most recent of the
three and has been running since September 2005. There has been some
difficulty in encouraging some people to join the group however, numbers
are increasing. This group is held in a function room where the members
are able to go into the pub during the breaks and put some of their skills
into practice immediately.
Rachel Rowe & Claire Tymms
Speech & Language Therapists
The ASD Resource at Wilmslow High School
Wilmslow High School is Cheshire Education Authority‟s first ASD
mainstream secondary school resource provision. This provision is
currently for up to six students whose autism has a significant impact on
the way they think, learn and behave and whose needs could not
otherwise be met in a regular mainstream school. An ASD specialist
teacher and two Learning Support Assistants staff it. Cheshire Education
Authority based on agreed criteria determines the placement of students
to this resourced provision.
In September our first students for the ASD Resource provision joined
Wilmslow High School. We are now half way through the school year and
it‟s been a rapid learning curve for us all! Nearly all-new students find the
move to secondary school daunting but for those with autism there are a
lot of extra things to consider. All the new and unfamiliar faces, knowing
how to go about making friends, getting used to the uniform and coping
with the hustle and bustle of the corridors.
But there are advantages too. The day is clearly structured with the
routine of the timetable and regular bells indicate lesson changeovers.
Each subject is taught in a different room and this provides our ASD
Resource students with immediate visual cues. Most teachers use seating
plans and start the lesson with a register, which gives „our‟ students
predictability and security. And at secondary school you don‟t have to go
out at break times and brave the playground!
The first few weeks of term passed in a blur. Sorting out the students and
staff timetables and ensuring all were in the right place at the right time
was quite a challenge. The work we did with our students before the
summer on the transition to high school paid dividends and all our
students have settled well and are happy to come to school.
Each student‟s timetable is personalised to meet his or her needs. One of
our students is now working independently in many of his lessons whilst
another has lots of individual lessons to help him develop his confidence
and essential social and communication skills. Individual targets are set
and discussed with each student on a weekly basis and the students
complete a self-evaluation form of their lessons using a 1 to 5 rating
system. This gives us useful information on the student‟s perception of
their school work!
We have an ASD base room in school where our students come at the start
of the day to pack their school bags and check their individual daily
timetables for any changes to the norm. Most of our students choose to
come back to the base at break and lunch time where we endeavour to
provide a quiet and peaceful place to unwind. Our room looks out onto the
duck pond and since we‟ve been here the ducks have got fatter. Feeding
the ducks is a useful calming activity! At the end of the day we talk
through anything that may have bothered or confused the students and
check they know what they have to do for homework and how to do it.
Doing school work at home does not fit neatly with most ASD student‟s
preferred learning style!
It‟s still very early days and we are constantly finding different and better
ways of helping our students. There is no Handbook on „How To Make a
Secondary School ASD Friendly‟. We‟re learning as we go, along with
several other schools across the country, and it‟s proving to be an
interesting and exciting journey.
ASD Resource Teacher
Chester Inclusion Choir
Children with such developmental difficulties as Asperger‟s Syndrome and
Autistic Spectrum conditions often face problems accessing music
provision at school and in the community, because of a lack of facilities
and specialised knowledge on the part of teachers and providers. As a
result, these children are often marginalized even when they are
nominally included in mainstream activities.
Chester Inclusion Choir was established at the start of 2006 as a pilot
project to provide a safe, fun and non-judgemental atmosphere in which
children with developmental difficulties can meet children without these
difficulties, to make music and socialise. The choir meets between from
19:30 to 21:00 on Tuesday evenings during term time at St John‟s Church
in Guilden Sutton, Chester.
As choir director, I prepare music and musical games suitable for different
ages and abilities, and use a large selection of instruments to help the
children express themselves and to explore sound, in addition to showing
them basic singing techniques. The goals are to encourage social
cooperation and imaginative play, and to ensure that everybody is
involved and challenged in a way that suits their unique outlook and
abilities. When everybody‟s individual strengths are engaged, it can be
remarkable to witness how well the children work together. Parents also
play an active role by encouraging their children, participating in
activities and providing care support where needed.
It is hoped to expand Chester Inclusion Choir over the coming year, and to
establish partnerships with other musical organisations in the Chester
area. For more information call the information line : 01244 315651
Crewe and Nantwich buddy scheme
This scheme is open to all young people from the Crewe and Nantwich
area between the ages of 8–19 years. The club will run once a month
(usually on the last Friday between 7.00-9.00pm) and will involve a
number of activities including a disco, dance sessions arts and crafts,
cookery, games and a coffee shop. There will be organised trips and
activities including kayaking and bowling. The main aim of the club is to
provide a safe environment for disabled and non-disabled young people to
meet, to make friends and to have fun. Sessions are free. For more
information email: Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07775 943574.
Cheshire Carers Relaxation Voucher Scheme Launch
Day - Tuesday 17th January 2006
I am writing this article firstly to inform you of a new initiative entitling
carers to free beauty and relaxation treatment and secondly to tell you
how my husband (Tim) and I got on at the launch of this new initiative.
The Carer's Relaxation Voucher scheme has been set up between West
Cheshire College, Cheshire Carer's Centre and Cheshire County Council.
If you are a carer you are entitled to apply for a voucher, which will buy
£25 worth of treatments at West Cheshire College (Ellesmere Port
campus) Hair and Beauty salons. You can take advantage of the scheme
by contacting Cheshire Carer's Helpline on 0800 0850307 or the West
Cheshire Outreach Office on 0151 3573363. They will take your details
and send out an application form.
My husband and I arrived at the Ellesmere Port campus of West Cheshire
College wondering exactly what we had let ourselves in for. Twelve of us
carers were shown to a large room full of beds with curtains surrounding
each bed. We were offered some refreshments and given some
information from West Cheshire College Lecturer Sandra Smith about the
range of beauty treatments available. These range from hairdressing,
manicures and facials through to Indian Head massages and
Aromatherapy Body massages.
We were then split into groups and worked our way around the
treatment room looking at how a range of beauty treatments were carried
out. It was fascinating to see what a range of products and treatments are
now available! Finally the best bit - we were invited to have a back
massage or a manicure. Tim and I along with plenty of others opted for
the back massage. First we had to answer some initial health questions
but then it was down to the relaxing bit. It was great to feel some of that
stress ebbing away as the girl massaged my shoulders. I will definitely be
coming back for another back massage!
With prices ranging from £8 for an aromatherapy body massage to £3.50
for a manicure and £5 for a basic facial I will have plenty of trips to West
Cheshire College (Ellesmere Port Campus) yet to come!
Wendy Smith (CASG)
Beauty Vouchers for Carers
Carers can apply for a voucher worth £25 to use for both holistic therapies
and beauty treatments at colleges across Cheshire. Following the
completion of a simple application form you will receive a voucher, which
entitles you to up to 5 treatments (to the value of £25) with details of how
to book at times convenient to you. Call the Carers Helpline on 0800 085
0307 for details of how to apply.
Access Swim Sessions
Free-swimming sessions now operate at Moss Farm Leisure Complex,
Winnington, and also at Winsford Sports Complex on a weekly basis. The
Moss Farm session is called the Access Swim, and it operates on Sundays
from 4.00pm - 4.45pm every week. The Winsford Sports Complex session
is run by the Winsford Turtles, on a Monday evening from 7.00pm -
Both sessions are open to anyone with a disability and are completely free
of charge. Carers are welcome free of charge. There are changing and
showering units, a pool hoist, staff to offer advice and support, and
accessible parking bays. There‟s also a small spectator area for a cup of
coffee and a chat.
For Moss Farm ring Paula Jamieson on 01606 783 835.
For Winsford ring Julie Kirkham on 01606 552 776. Website:
Winsford Sports Complex is also an IFI (Inclusive Fitness Initiative) site.
This means that the Gym signage & staff training have been recognised to
a particular standard for inclusion. It is the only one in Cheshire to be
recognised at this level currently. The Gym equipment is specifically
designed for wheelchair users, people with visual impairments and/or
‘Dance 4 All’ - Vale Royal Integrated Dance Session
„Dance 4 All‟ is a fun and exciting opportunity for young people with and
without disabilities to try dance. The sessions vary from week to week and
the feedback from the parents and young people helps to determine the
type of class, e.g. African and Bollywood, and the music and props used.
The overall aim is to explore and experience different ways of moving.
The dance session take place every Thursday from 5 - 6pm at St John
Parish Centre, Delamere Street, Winsford.
The cost is £1 per session and they are open to participants aged between
7 - 15 years.
For more information or to book a place please contact Sadie Walker on
01606 867533 or email email@example.com.
If you have any articles you wish to include in the next branch newsletter please forward
them to Esther Fletcher, 40 Oaklands, Guilden Sutton, Chester CH3 7HE
INFORMATION LINE 01244 315651