Lothian Autistic Society first came to being in 1992 as The Lothian Autistic Education Group, founded by a small number of parents who were concerned with finding suitable placements within education in order to meet the additional needs of their children. However it soon became apparent that the need for more suitable educational services was only one of many issues facing parents and carers.
1993 saw the group rebranding as Lothian Autistic Society, a registered charity run by a volunteer committee of parents, aimed at addressing the growing concerns regarding education, but also the lack of knowledge among professionals and the public regarding the nature of autism, and the lack of support services available to families. Parent volunteers helped families and carers identify the benefits they were entitled to, provided advocacy to those who wished it where the future education or welfare of a child was being decided, and offered coffee mornings and monthly meetings as a support group for parents and carers.
The first Lothian Autistic Society Edinburgh Playscheme and respite service was launched in 1994. The following year saw the charity move to their first offices and hiring the first paid member of staff. The society grew in size and scope over the following 5 years, hiring more staff members and providing additional Playschemes in West Lothian and Midlothian. During this time the society’s focus began to shift more towards the specific needs of the children, as more agencies emerged that specialised in providing support and advocacy, as well as providing help with gaining access to benefits. This allowed the society to concentrate on the concerns held by parents and carers regarding the social abilities of their children. In the years since, Lothian Autistic Society have developed and launched numerous different social clubs aimed at providing children with the space and resources needed to build their confidence, improve their social skills and make new friends.
Lothian Autistic Society Today
Lothian Autistic Society are delighted to still offer Playschemes in West Lothian, along with our other clubs and services. We have a small core group of 5 employees working out of our offices in Leith, but our bank of Care and Play workers extends to over 100 staff members. We are dedicated to improving the lives of children and young people with autism throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians, and we hope to do this by broadening their social horizons and giving them the opportunity to simply be themselves. We continue to offer support to parents and carers in the form of signposting and by providing much needed respite.
We are consistently looking for new sources of funding, and maintaining positive relationships with current funders, to ensure we can continue to offer the best possible services to children and young people with autism in Edinburgh and the Lothians.