Belated Happy New Year wishes to you all. Apologies for the delay of our January newsletter, but we haven't been idle, a lot has still been going on behind the scenes as usual.
We are pleased to announce the re-opening of our sensory toy library on Sunday 8th February (see below for more details) and are busy planning our 2015 events calendar. Many thanks to all of you who completed our survey, we are using your responses to help us arrange events that will hopefully provide you with the support and opportunities that you would like. If you are able to offer any time to volunteer to help arrange an activity then please do get in touch
Branch Officer's Report
We held our AGM in December, during which our Branch Officer, Catherine Hall, made this report about Branch activities during 2014:
It is rather more than a year since our last AGM and a lot has happened. One of the most significant events for us was the provision for a 'Framework for Autism' within the Disability and Inclusion Strategy passed by the States in November 2013. The NAS Guernsey branch are working with other groups such as Wigwam, ADHD support group, the Disability Alliance and Autism Guernsey to represent our members and to make sure their views are heard. Andy Graham from Autism Guernsey and myself have had our first meeting with HSSD on the Autism Framework and we are hoping that things will progress in the next few months. If anyone is interested in finding out more about this aspect of the Branch's work, or wishes to become more involved with it please do contact me.
The NAS Guernsey branch welcomed the formation of Autism Guernsey two years ago and we have collaborated with them on various projects whilst continuing to run our usual activities. Early last year when Autism Guernsey had been running for a year, they approached us and asked if we would consider merging the NAS branch with Autism Guernsey. We did explain that it is not possible to merge a Branch of the NAS with another organisation, but that we could develop closer collaboration. Autism Guernsey hold the view that it is confusing to have two organisations and asked us to consider closing the Branch.
It is not possible to close a Branch of the NAS, as long as any two members of the NAS are willing to run it. The current committee were unanimous that we did want to carry on running the Branch. We believe that we offer different types of support to Autism Guernsey and that much of what we can offer would be lost if we closed the Branch. We do however want to continue to collaborate with Autism Guernsey and coordinate our activities where appropriate.
2014 was an active year; from the fun of our family parties, Onesie Wednesday, a visiting rock band and our best yet year for holiday activities (with help from Autism Guernsey in the summer) to the more serious awareness raising provided by visiting speakers and our family seminars. However, there is much more that we can do and we have some exiting ideas for the year ahead. The current committee are all continuing their work in 2015, but new members are always welcome. If anyone is interested in joining us either as a committee member or to help out in any way, big or small, we will be delighted to hear from you.
One subject that a number of parents have recently asked us about is the substance GcMAF, promoted by the Guernsey based company Immuno Biotec, as a treatment and possible cure for autism.
This concept of 'curing' or 'recovery from' autism is very controversial. The cause or causes of autism are not known. It is a developmental difference, not a disease. Although everyone with autism has core features in common they are all affected to different degrees. For many people with autism and their families the idea that they might need treatment or require curing is deeply offensive. For others however, the effects of autism are such that individuals might want to seek interventions, therapy and treatment that may help reduce their difficulties.
There are a range of interventions and therapies that have been proven to be helpful for people with autism, and others which appear to benefit some people but not others. There are also a number of theories about autism and treatments on offer for which there is no scientifically valid evidence, some of which are potentially dangerous. The most comprehensive analysis of therapies and interventions has been conducted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). You can find out more about these guidelines and a link through to the guidelines on the NAS website here: http://www.autism.org.uk/news-and-events/media-centre/position-statements/therapies-and-interventions.aspx. The NAS website itself also includes a great deal of information about the different interventions available: http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/strategies-and-approaches.aspx
GcMaf may have benefits for some people with autism, but there is currently no independently verified information available to support the claims made. This product is not licensed for sale or prescription in Guernsey. Immuno Biotec promote the product as being completely safe because it naturally occurs within the body. We would advise that this is not a guarantee of safety. Many substances that occur within a healthily human body, e.g. insulin and adrenaline, can be safely used to treat a variety of conditions under medical supervision, but are extremely dangerous if inappropriately used. Reported side effects from GcMaf in children with autism are fever and deterioration in behaviour problems.
I would therefore advise parents and individuals considering this as a treatment option to seek medical advice.
I wish you all a happy 2015.
Autism Friendly Ice Skating
Around 80 people enjoyed our two autism friendly ice skating sessions at the rink at Le Friquet during December and January. This opportunity allowed many children to try skating for the first time, or enjoy it in a less crowded and noisy environment than usual. It was great to see a wide range of ages all on the ice together, and we welcomed several new families alongside many long term members of the branch. A big thankyou to all of our volunteers who helped to make the events a success.
Saffery Champness Rotary Walk
We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen as one of the beneficiary charities for the 2015 Saffery Champness Rotary Walk. Money raised will be used to purchase additional equipment for our sensory toy library.
The walk takes place on Saturday 6th June - to find out more please visit www.scrwalk.org.gg
or visit the walk Facebook Page www.facebook.com/SCRWalk
. If you register for the walk before the end of January the registration fee is just £15. After that it increases to £20.
It would be great to have some NAS Guernsey walkers sign up, so if you are looking for a 2015 challenge then why not get your walking boots on? You do not have to do the full 39 miles - you can cover as much or as little of the route as you like and could enter as a team. We will also be looking for some volunteers to help man a checkpoint and cheer on all of those taking part.
Sunday 8th February, Sunday 22nd February, Sunday 8th March, Sunday 22nd March
Western Community Centre, (Styx) St Peters
Lantern Making Workshops with the Guernsey Arts Commission
Please pop along and browse, try out and borrow items from our sensory toy library. We will also have our book library available.
The playground at the centre will be open as usual and we will have our toy boxes out to keep the children amused while you have a cup of tea and a chat.
All families with children with autism and/or sensory processing needs are welcome - just turn up!
Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th February
Western Community Centre, (Styx) St Peters
My Life with Autism
The Arts Commission are repeating their Lantern Parade which proved a huge success last year, and we have once again been offered some FREE lantern making workshops during February half term. During the workshops you will be able to follow step by step instructions to make a willow framed lantern. Once the willow frame is made, the lanterns are covered with tissue paper.
These workshops are suitable for everyone aged approximately 6-96, but a parent/carer must attend the workshop with children aged 16 and under. Siblings and friends are very welcome.
If you take part in the workshops then you will have the option of coming along with us and taking part in the Arts Commission lantern parade which will be on Saturday 14th March. If you missed lasy year's event then take a look at this video which gives you a flavour as to what it was all about http://vimeo.com/89022534
While it was a loud and busy event, we joined onto the end of the parade where it was less crowded and noisy, and the children loved the music, lights and lanterns!
To book a place on these workshops please visit Eventbrite
All you need to do is pop in your email address and you will be sent an email confirming your tickets. Please note: there is no need to print out your tickets, we will have an attendance list on the day.
Wednesday 25th February
La Viliette Hotel
Doors open at 7.20pm for a prompt 7.30pm start
£5.95 per person - for more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.tommooreautism.co.uk
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