A NEW Swindon branch of the National Autistic Society is being launched this week to support local families affected by a disability which touches the lives of half a million people in the UK.

The launch takes place on Thursday to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day as the newly-formed group hopes to support families in the area affected by autism across the spectrum.

Sally Grubb, branch officer for the new Swindon group, said: “There is a real need for help and support for people affected by autism in Swindon, so this new branch of the NAS will be a fantastic addition to the local community.

“Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition, yet many people with the condition struggle to access the help they so desperately need. It does not have to be like this.

“The right help at the right time can make a huge difference. We’ll be offering advice and support group meetings along with social events and workshops for families from all over the local area.”

The branch will hold its launch at 2pm on Thursday as part of a day of activities being held at the Drove People’s Campus in Southampton Street to highlight autism.

In the morning, the Swindon-based charity DASH (Discovering Autistic Spectrum Happiness) will be holding a training workshop entitled ‘Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome: helping your service to meet their needs’ which is aimed at professionals. It is already fully booked.

However, the afternoon launch of the Swindon NAS branch will be open to parents and carers of those across the autistic spectrum to find out more about what they will be doing and what help they will be able to provide.

The new NAS Swindon and District Branch brings together representatives from established local autism support groups SCAAS (Support for Carers of Adults with Aspergers in Swindon) and DASH.

Sally added that the new branch will provide information, support and signposting services, as well as activities such as family fun days, skittles and barbecues.

The branch also provides a social group for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

For more information about the branch, please contact Sally Grubb on 01793 770079 or email swindon@nas.org.uk.