Pumpkin close up

Here at the Lothian Autistic Society we love all things Autumn. The children and young people also love being outside, exploring all the different colours and textures. A firm favourite every year is pumpkin carving. This weekend we just couldn’t wait till Halloween and went to visit Cragie’s Farm. 

Hayden wheelbarrow

Cragie’s Farm is working farm located out in South Queensferry. The location as a lot to offer families. There is the option to pick a wide range of fruits such as apples, brambles and this month….pumpkins!!!!! Also located on site are a variety of farm animals, a play park and a deli cafe.  Everyone had a great time. The groups picked a couple of pumpkins to take back to club to carve and decorate. 

Tamara and Olivia pumpkin carving

Do you have any fun activities planned for October? Are you carving pumpkins or dressing up for Halloween, we would love to hear what you are up to. In the mean time can you help us name our new additions to Saturday Adventure Club?

Club pumpkins

LAS Launches First Girls Group

Have you heard? We’ve launched a new girls group with Lothian Autistic Society! Over the past few months we have had a number of requests about support for young women and are very excited the opportunity has come around for us to facilitate this service. We have been amazed by the response rate to our news, and cannot wait for the first session. All places are currently full for the Girls Group, however please get in touch if you would like to enquire about this service.

Going through puberty is always a whirlwind of new emotions, your body changing and a multitude of different ways to navigate throughout school, friendships, crushes, family and more. Our new Girls Group aims to provide a safe space to chat, make friends and increase confidence and self-esteem. We will be focusing on mindfulness, and building up our skills in independent travel and other areas to take into adulthood.

While early research indicated boys were more likely to be diagnosed with autism, this notion is becoming increasingly challenged. There are many studies outlining how autistic girls are often more skilled at mimicking their peers, unfortunately meaning an early diagnosis can be missed. And with a missed diagnosis many young girls are not supported enough throughout their schooling or from their peers to reach their full potential.

A study from National Autistic Society looked into young girls and their friendships, trying to distinguish if there was a difference in how autistic girls and neurotypical girls developed friendships. The research found many autistic girls have very close friendships like neurotypical girls, and they tend to have one or two close friends rather than a large group. However, the research also discovered how autistic girls are often the target of bullies and the subject of gossip, particularly in relationship contexts and friendship making. This worry was echoed by parents of young women who, in a separate study, said many of their daughters had been the victim of bullying at some point during school, and often it was a case of being left out, isolated or being talked about behind their back.

“These are all things typically associated with teenage girls of course,” the study says, “but they were especially difficult for autistic girls to understand because they were very loyal in how they perceived friendships, so they were confused by people they thought of as friends being mean about them, and by the rapidly shifting dynamics of teenage female friendships.”

Mike Penny, CEO of Lothian Autistic Society, says: “As a parent I was struck by how, during my daughter’s time at high school, all of the girls who had been friendly with her during primary school drifted away from her circle.

“Although she started S1 with several friends who spent time with her during breaks and the like, by S4 she was almost totally reliant on school staff and no longer spent any social time with peers during the school day. Her social circle became limited to adults and two peers who went to other schools who she saw infrequently.

“We are delighted this new service has come about, and cannot wait to start building friendships.”


Kim Mooney’s story

Kim Mooney has kindly put together some words about her time at Lothian Autistic Society

Last year, by chance we saw your post advertising the Bathgate Basecamp2 programme. At that time Jake didn’t have any activities outside of school and his social skills were lacking. I encouraged him onto this place and within a couple of weeks he was so looking forward to Tuesdays. He made a “best buddy” there and the 2 boys now regularly FaceTime, play online and we have also organised a few meet ups. At the final presentation of basecamp the boys did their own stand up comedy routine with jokes they had researched. We can’t wait for the Basecamp 2 project to start again at the end of April. Myself and another mum fought really hard to get interest in this when it was feared it might not run again until September. 

The boys came to the last karting holiday event and had a great time. 

Since then Jake has also started going to an autism football session and started a music after school programme too. If it wasn’t for Basecamp2 and the staff, I suspect his confidence still wouldn’t be there.

Thanks for everything that you do and good luck.

jake mooney.jpg  Jake at the Family Activity Day 

World Autism Awareness Week


World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day taking place on 2 April every year. In the week of 1 – 7 April surrounding this day, we encourage the everyone to take part in World Autism Awareness Week – a full seven days where people across the UK take part in activities to raise money and awareness of Autism. All this week we will be featuring stories from a variety of different people who are involved with Lothian Autistic Society, from, children and young people, to staff, volunteers and parents

Bernadette’s Story

Bernadette, a parent of two children with autism who both attend our services has taken the time to tell us about her experiences.

I knew very little about Autism when my son was diagnosed and it’s been a real learning curve since! When my daughter was also diagnosed last year, there were a whole new set of challenges! We’ve been really fortunate to have had a great Occupational therapist who offered some fantastic tools and general support. Along with the range of courses, information sessions and local organisations, we have built a good support network!

The challenges do become greater as Thomas and Julia get older. Thomas is heading towards high school and there are struggles with the increase in demands of school work and socialising with classmates. Thomas can tire easily so a day at school often exhausts him, this means after school activities have to be kept to a minimum. Julia can struggle with focusing on tasks and concentrating but often needs to expend energy after school; the garden trampoline is used a lot!! 

However both work so hard at school; Julia loves maths and Thomas loves reading and art. Both also love the water, Thomas joined the Wave project last September and surprised us by enjoying the sea and standing up quickly on his board!  

Julia absolutely loves basecamp with all the different activities and Thomas loves Saturday club.

They never fail to surprise me with their enthusiasm and their determination to try new things whether that be surfing, water slides or bike riding. I’m sure they’ll continue to surprise me going forward! 

Julia Veal

Amy’s Story

Amy is a volunteer at our Basecamp 2 Programme and has very kindly shared her story for autism awareness week.

I chose to volunteer for Lothian Autistic Society as it is something I’ve always wanted to do since my 7 year old son was first diagnosed with autism. Having been through the process of waiting for a diagnosis, working closely with speech and language therapists and deciding on what schools would be best, I felt that I would be able to understand and relate to the parents of the children and young people I would be working with. I also know how great it is when your child achieves a major milestone.

I feel that I am learning a lot working with the young people at Basecamp 2, they are older than my son, so it’s a completely different experience for me and its very rewarding as they are all a lovely bunch of young adults.

Having a child with autism does have its challenges, most of the time, Alfie is a very happy, content boy, but his lack of communication does make it hard when he’s upset as he can’t tell me what is wrong. He is at the very early stages of using PECs and signalong, but still can’t communicate fully. When he is unwell, he has to be checked over as it’s not always obvious what is wrong.

Despite these challenges, it always amazes me how much Alfie can accomplish. He has learned how to swim because of his lack of fear and last year, when we moved house and he changed school, he was not affected by the big change at all and he kept on smiling.

Never underestimate a child or young person with autism, they can accomplish so much if you believe in them.


Amy's child.jpeg 

February Family Activity Days 2018

Lothian Autistic Society is delighted to announce the schedule for our February Family Activity Days. The family days are open to families of children and young people with autism and other additional support needs.

We have three dates during the February Holidays where families can come together in a supportive environment to experience something fun.


Monday 12th February:

Outdoor adventure day at Wiston Lodge, Biggar (https://wistonlodge.com/).

Wiston Lodge provides “physical, mental and spiritual challenge in a safe and sheltered environment”. The adventure day will include archery and climbing or bushcraft along with a chance to explore Wiston Lodge’s fantastic Path of the Little People engaging in music and storytelling.

This is an all-day event (10 am – 5 pm). We will be providing transport from Edinburgh to Wiston Lodge. However, you are free to take your own transport if this is easier for you.

There are 30 spaces on this Activity Day, both adults and children are able to take part in the activities.

Thursday 15th February:

Rock Climbing at Alien Rock (https://www.alienrock.co.uk/index.html)

We will be running two rock climbing sessions at Alien Rock, Newhaven on the afternoon of Thursday 15th February.

Session one: 12 pm – 1.20 pm

Session two: 2.30 pm – 4 pm

There are 18 spaces in each session. Both adults and children can participate. Instructors will work with groups of 6 to support the teamwork needed to rock climb.

Friday 16th February:

Variety Afternoon at the Fort Community Centre (1 pm – 3 pm)

We will be hosting a Variety Afternoon at the Fort Community Centre, Edinburgh. We will have visiting arts and craft instructors, Animal Man’s Mini Zoo, the Waggy Dog Project, lots of games and play opportunities including messy play. This will be a fantastic opportunity to meet other families, relax and play in a supportive and safe environment. Refreshments will be provided.

There are 55 spaces available for the Variety Afternoon.

There will be a limited number of our office team on hand during the Activity Days to guide you and answer any questions.

These events are free of charge. However, donations are gratefully received and will help us provide further Activity Days and family events in the future.

If you would like to book a place on any of these events, please email or phone the office on 0131 661 3834. Spaces will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. If you are booking more than one event, please indicate your preference in case of oversubscription.

We hope that you are able to come along to these events  – we’d love to see you!

Heritage Lottery Fund

We’re delighted to have been awarded funding for 3 years from the Heritage Lottery Fund to run a new Saturday Activity Programme in Edinburgh.

More information to follow very shortly…


Festive Season Office Closure

Lothian Autistic Offices will be closed from 1 pm on Thursday 21st December 2017 and reopen at 9 am on Wednesday 3rd January.

AGM 2017

Lothian Autistic Society would like to invite our members and those who use our services* to attend our Annual General Meeting on Monday 27th November at Norton Park Conference Centre, 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5QY from 10 am – 12 pm.

Lothian Autistic Society is delighted that Christine Collingwood has agreed to speak at our AGM.

Christine is an Improvement Officer with Autism Network Scotland.  She has professional qualifications in social work and in social work education.  She worked for many years with children and families.  Christine has also worked in the field of health and research, and in the charitable sector. She has been involved with autistic children and adults at various stages of their life journey.

Christine will give a presentation on ‘Coping with anxiety and stress around Transitions. Moving between and leaving schools’, after which there will be an opportunity for members to ask questions.

With your continued support, we will make sure that we innovate, inspire and improve life for those affected by autism.

*The AGM is open to those who are not members of Lothian Autistic Society. Non-members will not be able to vote on matters. If you would like to become a member please click here.