Funding boost for Gainsborough autism support group

Co-op store manager Julie Rumbelow (second right) presents the cheque to GAPS committee members (from left) Mick Thrower, Gemma Roberts, Andy Fox, Yvonne Clark and Kim Basu
Co-op store manager Julie Rumbelow (second right) presents the cheque to GAPS committee members (from left) Mick Thrower, Gemma Roberts, Andy Fox, Yvonne Clark and Kim Basu

As part of World Autism Awareness month, Gainsborough Autism Parent Support group (GAPS) were delighted to receive a donation for their funds.

Julie Rumbelow, manager of the Morton branch of Lincolnshire Co-op, presented GAPS with a cheque for £716.38 after they were chosen as the store’s community champions.

GAPS seeks to support families who have children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Children with autism face a wide variety of difficulties but there are many common issues.

Autism affects at least one in 100 individuals, 80 per cent of whom are male.

Kim Basu, secretary of GAPS, said: “At GAPS we have more 90 families registered with us and this number is growing.

“GAPS run a monthly support group for parents or carers on the first Thursday of each month, from 1pm to 2.30pm at Charles Baines primary school, where parents can come for the whole session or just drop in for a coffee.

“We can also meet parents for one to one support by arrangement and we organise a variety of activities for our families to enjoy together.

“Previous events have included bowling, swimming, visits to wildlife or theme parks and a Christmas party.

“To do all this we need to raise funds, by our chairman Andy Fox doing fun runs in his minion costume, and having stalls at various fairs and markets.

“However the generous donation from Morton Co-op will go a long way to funding our annual summer trip.”

Individuals with autism can view the world as a mass of people, places and events which they struggle to make sense of.

Trying to understand and relate to others can cause them considerable stress and anxiety, meaning that taking part in day to day family and school life can be difficult for them.

This affects those who love them too and it falls to parents and carers to try to keep children with ASD calm in a challenging world.

Kim continued: “One of the common issues people with autism tend to have is ‘over-sensitivity’ to outside stimuli, such as unexpected or loud noises.

“Imagine a trip to the supermarket – for you or I the screeching trolley wheels, the coins clattering on the floor, the supervisors’ bells ringing, a rattling container of bottles going by or another child having a tantrum are all annoying

“However we are able to blot them out and concentrate on the job in hand, maintain a conversation with our partner and stick to our shopping list.

“For a child with autism any one of these events can cause ‘sensory overload’ as they struggle to process all the different stimuli coming in thick and fast.

“This is overwhelming for them and can lead to them becoming very distressed, resulting in a ‘meltdown’ – something those people close to someone with autism will know only too well and make every effort to avoid.

“So, the next time you see a distressed child crying at the supermarket with a loving parent trying to calm them down, please do not judge and blame ‘bad parenting’ – that child may have autism.”

For more information on the group, email them at gainsboroughgaps@gmail.com