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Courses & training support

Support for Downs Syndrome - children, families and carers


Ready Steady Downs! is run by parent volunteers to enable families with a child who has Down syndrome, to come together, make new friends and gain support and advice. Stay and play sessions for pre-school age children are held on the first and third Thursday of the month. Drop in session - 10:30-12:30 £1 per session, per family. Join us for a drink, a chat and a friendly welcome.


The Bridge Centre
Roper Street
St. Helens

Telephone: 07977 137827


What is EarlyBird Plus?

The National Autistic Society developed this programme for parents of a child aged over 4 and under 8 years 11 months old with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The NAS Early Bird Plus Programme lasts for 10 weeks and involves parents committing to a weekly 2.5 hour training course, a home visit and completing on-going activities with their child at home for the duration of the programme. The programme works with 6 families at one time. Two parent/carers (or another family member or friend) can attend the training course, together with a professional such as a learning support assistant or class teacher from school.

What does the programme cover?

During the programme parent/carers learn to understand their child's autism; to develop effective communication with their child and to manage their child's behaviour positively.  Interested parents/carers may be asked to attend "The Information Meeting" in the first instance.

When and where is the programme run?

Programmes are run two/three times a year within St. Helens.  The sessions are normally held between 10.00am and 12.30pm on a weekly basis, often at one of the Children’s Centers. Parents must arrange their own travel and child care. Home visits are arranged during normal working hours.

How do I get a place on the programme?

An invitation to "The Information Meeting" will be sent out to parent/carers who expressed an interest after the diagnosis of their child. This may be at the diagnostic feedback meeting, at a review at school or on advice of a professional working with you.

Following "The Information Meeting" parent/carers can choose to sign up to the programme and places are allocated on a "first come, first served" basis, although priority may be given to children who are too old to wait for a future programme.  Demand for places is high.

Once parent/carers have secured a place, the head teacher at the school will be contacted inviting a member of staff to accompany the family to the course.

How much does it cost?

The course is free to parent/carers but we ask for donations towards the cost of the book.

We charge £30 per accompanying professional to cover the cost of the official EarlyBird Plus manual, which attendees keep.

For further details or an informal chat please contact our accredited EarlyBird Plus trainers at LASCS

Telephone: 01744 673135
Email: SchoolAgeTeam@sthelens.gov.uk


What is Cygnet?

Cygnet is a parenting support programme, developed by Barnardos, for parents and carers of children and young people aged 7- 18 years old in St Helens who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What does the programme cover?

The course has 5 main aims:
1. To increase parents/carers understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder
2. To help parents/carers understand what lies behind their child's behaviour.
3. To guide parents/carers through strategies they can use with their child.
4. To decrease isolation for parents/carers and increase support from each other
5. To direct parents/carers to useful local and national ASD resources and support.

When and where does the programme run?

The course runs for six to eight weeks and each session is 2.5 hours long. It is usually held in a children’s center in the St Helens area.

How do I get a place?

An invitation will be sent out to those who expressed an interest after the diagnosis of their child or young person. This may be at the diagnostic feedback meeting, at the ‘Autism Awareness’ course, at a review at school or on advice of a professional working with you or your child.
Places are allocated on a "first come, first served" and according to need within the family. 
Parent/carers must be able to commit to attending the sessions as places are in demand.  We try to offer sessions at a time that suits most of the parents attending the course, so this can be in the evenings or after office hours if the majority of parent/carers in the group work during the day.

How much does it cost?

The course is free to parents/carers of children and young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder resident within St. Helens.
For more information please contact Language, Autism & Social Communication Service (LASCS)

Email: SchoolAgeTeam@sthelens.gov.uk  Tel: 01744 673135

The Language, Autism and Social Communication Service (LASCS) run a monthly session for parents and carers of children with ASD who attend mainstream schools.  During the sessions, the group focuses on key issues related to children and young people with ASD. It is an opportunity for parents and carers to share successful strategies or problem solve.

Throughout the sessions LASCS practitioners and guest speakers will offer advice, strategies and tips on particular topics of difficulty e.g. safety, hormones, diet.

The Sunshine Sessions welcome any parent/carer who wants the support.

Sessions are free but a donation for refreshments is greatly appreciated.

Please see our flyer for dates and topics. 

If you wish to attend or want to find out more information please contact:

Telephone: 01744 673135
Email: SchoolAgeTeam@sthelens.gov.uk



What is the NAS One Day Understanding Autism Seminar for Families?

What does the programme cover?

The ‘Understanding Autism seminar’ provides information and advice to parents and carers of children with ASD

This seminar will help families:

Develop an understanding of Autism

Identifying how Autism can affect families

Explore practical ideas for developing communication strategies

Clarify support that families may be able to access

When and where does the programme run?

This seminar is held frequently throughout the year, usually from 10.00 until 2.30 on a weekday during term time. For latest dates see our flyer

How do I get a place?

As a child or young person receives a diagnosis of autism his or her family are offered this initial introduction to autism during the feedback meeting. Families receive personal invites once their details are forwarded on from the St Helens Autism Spectrum Pathway. However, some families may move in to the area or receive the diagnosis for their child outside of St Helens. In this case please email LASCS at schoolageteam@sthelens.gov.uk for more details.

How much does it cost?

The course is free but a small cost of £5 is incurred for the accompanying booklet.

How do I book a place?

Please contact LASCS

Email:  SchoolAgeTeam@sthelens.gov.uk

Tel: 01744 673135

Read real-life stories shared by parents of children on the autism spectrum - supplied by the National Autistic Society

Real Life Stories - stories from parents and carers


Independent Supporters are independent from the Local Authority and are specially trained to provide a range of advice and support, usually lasting between 15 and 20 weeks, for each family.

The support involves helping families or young people during the process of developing a statutory Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. The Independent Supporter will also offer support to parents and/or young people with statements of SEN and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) who are changing to the new Education, Health and Care assessment and planning process.


To help raise awareness, and help parents/carers and supporters to gain knowledge, skills and strategies to better recognise, understand and meet the needs of their child living with a neurodevelopmental condition, and the needs of the family as a whole - we have created a booklet to provide a comprehensive, but not exhaustive,menu of training available from St.Helens Council, Bridgewater, Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, NHS St Helens CCG, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, ADDvanced Solutions and a range of online providers.


The booklet contains details of the courses available, the cost (if applicable), location and contact details

Current Training Offer for a Range of Neurodevelopmental Conditions in St.Helens 2017/2018