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Autism Bedfordshire Services for Children

Who do we support?

Children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions

What can you expect from us?

Skills for Success

Skills4Success is a programme for young adults and teens with lower support needs. The age group is 16-19 years old, however we also run some further courses which are for 11-16 year olds. We provide a variety of bespoke skills courses to support learning and development alongside social opportunities in the community.

The programme offers a smaller, quieter environment for learners to participate in so that they can reap the benefits of a smaller environment which may be easier to engage in.

The programmes run over a block 3 day period or once a week for approximately 6 weeks. The duration of the course is dependant on what the course is and what is covers. They follow a planned scheme of work which aims to empower learners, reduce anxieties, build confidence and independence and develop skills which are transferable in their day to day life, while preparing them for adulthood. The structure of the course focuses on collaborative learning sessions in the morning with more practical elements in the afternoon which consolidate the skills learnt during the first part.

Courses currently available or planned for the future include:

  • Understanding my Autism
  • Pre-employment and volunteering
  • Travel training
  • Cookery
  • Communication and social skills
  • Wellbeing
  • Staying safe

Summer activity schemes

Our Summer activity schemes are based in Bedford and Luton and provide a wide range of onsite activities and community based experiences for autistic children and young people aged 3 to 17 years. Each scheme is specifically designed to cater for the different needs, interests, ages and abilities of those that attend.

Junior Activity Scheme is for autistic children aged 3 to 9 years, and provides 1 to 1 support.

Holiday Club is for autistic young people aged 10 to 17 years with moderate to severe learning difficulties with 1 to 1 support provided.

Summer Fun is for autistic young people aged 10 to 17 years with lower support needs (accessing mainstream education). Ratio of support is approximately 1 to 4.

All of our activity schemes provide a wide range of appropriate and engaging social, play and sporting activities including sand and water play, art and crafts, bouncy castles, swimming and visits to popular outdoor activity venues.



Loads of Autistic Fun (or L.O.A.F. for short) is a Saturday morning activity group which the whole family can attend.  It runs fortnightly during term time from 10am to 1pm and provides an inclusive environment where all children up to age 12 (those with autism and their siblings) and their parents/carers are welcome and supported by trained staff and volunteers.

LOAF provides a place where autistic children and their families can feel comfortable, accepted and valued. It is a calm, supportive environment that enables the children to feel safe, join in and not be judged if they don’t. The first session would be free but the usual cost is £10 per family. After the first visit, families will need to become members of Autism Bedfordshire to be able to attend further LOAF sessions.

Currently we run LOAF at four venues throughout the county:

  • Bedford - Wootton Lower School, Harris Way, Wootton, Beds, MK43 9BX
  • Biggleswade - Ivel Valley Special School, Hitchmead Road, Biggleswade, SG18 0NL
  • Leighton Buzzard - Rushmere Park Academy, East Street, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 1EW
  • Luton - Pastures Way Nursery School, Pastures Way, Luton, LU4 0PE

Please note: that there are currently waiting lists for all LOAF groups. If you would like to be added to the waiting list please call the Autism Bedfordshire Office on 01234 214871. We will then contact you as soon as a place becomes available to invite you to the next session.

Because of the coronavirus we have made some changes to the way the groups run. Sessions are currently split into 1 hour and 30 minutes slots with reduced numbers. Temperature checks will be taken outside before anyone can enter the building.

Educational Consultancy

This service can be accessed by professionals or parents who would like assistance in identifying, understanding and supporting young people who may face barriers to their learning and development.

Our experience

Our Autism Trainer, Mandy Higgs, is a qualified autism advisory teacher with over ten years of experience working within schools. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Education (BEd) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Asperger Syndrome.

Mandy has been trained to use the ADOS assessment tool as the second professional and is able to support other professionals in both providing and examining the evidence for an autism spectrum diagnosis, although only a medical professional can offer a diagnosis. Further associated training includes:

  • Carol Gray 2 day Social Stories
  • 3 and 5 day TEACCH
  • 2 day PECS
  • 2 day SCERTs
  • 1 day Protective Behaviours

What this service can offer:

  • individual observations in the setting or at home
  • sensory environmental audit
  • holistic reports containing clear recommendations
  • a focus on all areas including social communication and interaction, flexibility of thought, behaviours, the impact of sensory processing differences and environmental factors
  • advice about possible ways forward for the young person, suggested interventions and targets
  • useful evidence either pre or post diagnosis when seeking statutory support (please consult with your local authority to confirm they will recognise such evidence)
  • specific autism in the classroom training for SENCOs, teachers and support staff


Autism Bedfordshire will always agree service fees before going ahead with any work.  We will offer an initial (one-off) up to 30 minute telephone consultation to any new client, free of charge, with no  further obligation.

The cost of consultancy is £50 per hour. This rate includes travel within 30 miles (round trip) of MK41 0UD. Where travel exceeds 30 miles (round trip) there will be an additional cost of 40p per mile added.


    • observation of a child (1 and 2 hours)
    • written report with recommendations based on this observation and other information collated such as medical/school reports (3 hours)

Typically this would total 5 hours’ work and therefore cost £250, plus travel if applicable.

Please note: that there might be additional costs for resources – such as social stories or visual prompts, where agreed in advance – and travel, depending on location. If required to attend a follow up meeting with staff and parents/carers, this would add a further hours’ fee to the total.

* Autism in the classroom training is delivered as part of our professional training programme therefore the cost of this varies depending on the number of delegates.

Training & Support

We offer a range of training opportunities across Bedfordshire exclusively for parents and carers both during the daytime and evenings. The workshops help parents and carers to understand and manage behaviours consistent with autism.

5 week training course for pre-diagnosed and newly diagnosed families 

This course is aimed at families who are new to the diagnosis and will focus on how you can better understand and support your child when considering the many different aspects of autism. The course is open to two members of the family and you will need to sign up to all five sessions.

Autism and Behaviour

This workshop provides you with the opportunity to learn more about the

      • difficulties autism can cause in managing behaviour
      • theory behind behaviour and how we can prevent rather than cure
      • strategies for managing difficult situations

Social Stories

This workshop provides you with the opportunity to learn more about the:

      • purpose of social stories as a communication tool
      • history and different uses of social stories
      • tips to creating your own social story

Autism, Diet and Sensory Needs

This workshop provides an opportunity to learn more about the:

      • relationship between autism and diet
      • impact of sensory processing differences
      • useful resources and strategies to support health and wellbeing when diet is an issue due to sensory challenges

Parent/carer virtual training Autism Workshops 2024

  • Summer 2024
  • Thursday 18 April, 10am - 1pm, Autism and Sensory Processing
  • Friday 26 April, 6pm - 9pm, Autism and Behaviour
  • Wednesay 1 May, 10am - 1pm, Autism, Women and Girls 
  • Tuesday 7 May, 6pm - 9pm, Autism and Eating Disorders
  • Thursday 6 June, 10am - 1pm, Autism and Mental Health

Booking for parent/carer virtual training Autism Workshops spring and summer 2024

Please visit our Autism Bedfordshire website for the latest updates regarding training and support for parents or sign up for our newsletter

Helpline service

Our telephone Helpline is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for information, advice and guidance on all aspects of Autistic Spectrum Conditions and associated problems.

Our Development Officers have considerable knowledge of autism and can provide support over the phone. We provide advice and support to parents, siblings and other family members and anyone with an interest in, or query about autism.

Telephone 01234 350704. If you reach the answerphone, please leave your name, a short message and your contact number and we will call you back.  Alternatively, you can e-mail us with your query at

We aim to respond to any calls and/or emails within 48 hours of any working week day.  If responses are delayed, it may be because we are receiving a high volume of calls but we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as we can.

Extended services

Where additional funding can be secured we aim to offer a variety of autism friendly sport and leisure opportunities around the county.

These include:

  • 6 week multi-sports course 
  • 6 week football course with a qualified FA coach
    • 6 week tennis course - Riverside Tennis Club, Bedford, MK40 3EA. 
    • Family Days at Animal Edge Farm - Animal Edge is a small animal farm set in the heart of Bedfordshire, on the doorstep of Center Parcs Woburn Forest.
    • Exclusive Soft Play Sessions - A chance for the whole family to have an active and enjoyable time together
    • Trampolining - 5 to 6 week trampoline courses for young people aged 8 to 17 years.

    Please visit our website for more information on our current additional opportunities.

    Wanted Fun

    For young people aged 10 to 17 we have evening youth groups called ‘Wanted Fun’.  These provide social opportunities for young people with Asperger’s Syndrome or lower level support needs.  Groups are set up at multiple venues throughout the county:

          • Bedford - Church Lane Community Centre, 147 Church Lane, Bedford, MK41 0PW
          • Biggleswade - Biggleswade Youth Centre, Mead End, Biggleswade, SG18 8JU
          • Flitwick - Flitwick Youth Hub, Coniston Road, Flitwick, MK45 1QJ
          • Kempston - Kempston Youth Centre, Hillgrounds Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK42 8QP
          • Leighton Buzzard - Leighton Buzzard Youth Centre, Vandyke Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 3HA
          • Luton - Families United Network Centre, Unit 5, Britannia Estate, Leagrave Road, Luton, LU3 1RD

    Each group provides 18 sessions per year and can cater for up to 12 young people per session. The groups run fortnightly during term time with occasional outings during the holidays.

    Wanted Fun provides a place where the young people can go to enjoy social and recreational activities and not feel judged for their social difficulties. The young people have lots of fun in a friendly environment which builds their confidence and self-esteem.

    Each group has a different activity focus depending on the interests of the young people and what they want to do.  Often there are games, Wii, cookery, music and quiz nights.

    The young people also organise trips out which have included going swimming, ice-skating, bowling, eating out and visiting parks and museums. On these trips out they learn valuable life skills such as money handling, time-keeping, travelling on public transport and coping with crowds and noise.

    The cost is £5 per person per session and you need to be a member of Autism Bedfordshire to access this service.

    If you are interested in attending Wanted Fun, please contact the Autism Bedfordshire Office on 01234 214871 to book a place or to join a waiting list.

    What happens after the Service has been involved?

    Autism Bedfordshire offers ongoing support.

    What can you do if you feel this service doesn’t meet your needs?

    Search the Local Offer for other SEN Support Services, click on the pink ‘specific areas of need’ tiles or the ‘if you have concerns’ pathway.

    Get in touch with the Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIAS). This team will be able talk with you about your concerns and can help you find information and support.


    Download: Autism Bedfordshire Children's Services 2021
    Download: Autism Bedfordshire LOAF
    Download: Autism Bedfordshire Wanted Fun

    Who to contact


    Time / Date Details

    Time of day

    Other Details


    Workshops listed are free.


    Referral required
    Referral Details

    You must be a resident of Luton Borough in order to access this support.


    Other notes

    More information on current parent and carer training can be found on the Autism Bedfordshire website.

    Last updated 14/03/2024