Autism Bedfordshire Services for Children
Who do we support?
Children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions
What can you expect from us?
Skills for Success
The Skills4Success is a project for 16 to 19 year olds with lower support needs and provides the opportunity to learn and develop their skills alongside accessing social opportunities within the community.
Post 16 education provisions may not always offer full time courses or training, therefore S4S provides alternative options during any free days a young person may have in their weekly timetable. Our skills courses offer a smaller, quieter environment for learning and can be adapted to suit the needs of the individual.
Most of our skills courses will run for approximately 6 weeks and follow a planned scheme of work. We aim to empower the learners, reduce anxieties, build confidence and independence and develop skills which will be transferable as they approach adulthood.
Courses available include:
- Communication and Social Skills
- Money Management
- Pre-Employment and Volunteering
- Travel Training
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.
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 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
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
Parents and Carers workshops
Please visit our Autism Bedfordshire website for the latest updates regarding training and support for parents or sign up for our newsletter
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Where additional funding can be secured we aim to offer a variety of autism friendly sport and leisure opportunities around the county.
- 6 week football course with a qualified FA coach
- 6 week tennis course - Tuesdays 21 February - 28 March 2023, 6:30 - 7:30pm at Riverside Tennis Club, Bedford, MK40 3EA details and booking information
- 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.
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.
DocumentsDownload: Autism Bedfordshire Children's Services 2021
Download: Autism Bedfordshire LOAF
Download: Autism Bedfordshire Wanted Fun
Who to contact
- 01234 214871
Time / Date Details
- Time of day
- 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 17/02/2023