Asperger’s Children and Carers Together (ACCT) aims for all autistic people in Sheffield to be valued and supported to live happy, fulfilling lives. We want Autism to be understood as a difference, not a disability.
Our mission is to enable all autistic children and young people to be themselves without having to mask or hide their Autism. ACCT delivers group activity sessions which engage autistic children and young people in a safe, relaxed environment where they feel comfortable to practice social interactions and develop relationships, improve their confidence and well-being, and work with peers, staff and volunteers to better understand and manage the way their autism affects their day-to-day life.
We believe in working with the whole family, providing support to parents and carers, siblings and others to ensure that autistic children are understood and supported in the best way possible.
ACCT was set up in 2006 by three parents, Deborah Woodhouse, Karen Nuttgens and Helen Basu-Chaudhuri to support children affected by Asperger’s, Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. ACCT was launched because there was a lack of help for families affected by the challenges faced by children and young people in the Sheffield area. We have developed and expanded our range of activities and support over the years, and currently support more than 500 families each year. We are the only specialist Autism charity in Sheffield which is an Ofsted registered childcare setting able to support autistic children directly without parental supervision in sessions.
Who we work with
ACCT supports autistic children and young people in the Sheffield area, their parent-carers and other family members. We do not restrict the definition of young person, so young adults aged over 18 can be supported by ACCT – we have not set a fixed upper age limit. We also do not have a lower age limit but have typically aimed our support at children aged 5 and above.
Similarly, we do not have a fixed definition of ‘autistic’ and do not require beneficiaries to have a particular diagnosis. The activities we deliver are however less likely to be suitable for autistic young people with high personal care needs. Many of the children and young people ACCT supports have additional health needs and conditions including:
• Related conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Social Communication Disorder
• Communication and sensory difficulties
• Depression, anxiety and other aspects of low mental health.
What outcomes we aim to achieve
ACCT aims to meet the emotional and social development needs specific to autistic children and young people in Sheffield by working directly with the children and young people and also by supporting parent-carers and offering whole family activities.
ACCT has been supporting autistic children and their families since 2006. We have learnt a lot about the use of fun activities to motivate autistic children to communicate and interact, providing non-judgmental environments in which children are able to explore how their Autism impacts them and practice dealing with the behaviours and challenges in a safe way. Our work supports children, young people, young adults and parent-carers of autistic children to make progress against three outcomes:
- Emotionally Well: Through participating in fun and safe ACCT sessions amongst people who understand Autism, children and young people feel relaxed enough to be themselves, explore the impact of their Autism, and improve their confidence and mental well-being. Family members are supported to become more confident in their support of their autistic family members.
- Positive Relationships: Autistic children are motivated to take part in engaging activities through which they are able to learn and practice social communication in a safe environment, develop friendships with peers and develop the skills needed for social interaction in the wider world. Parent support and whole family sessions support positive relationship development within and between families.
- Understanding Autism’s Impact: Children and young people are able to better understand the way their Autism impacts on their life, emotions and behaviours, and develop strategies for managing its effects in a positive way. Other family members are better able to understand Autism and engage positively with their children’s development.
What is Autism?
The National Autistic Society have produced this easily accessible video that gives a quick introduction to Autism: