June 14, 2021, Meath Chronicle: New autism hub to offer support and advice to parents and families https://www.meathchronicle.ie/2021/06/14/new-autism-hub-to-offer-support-and-advice-to-parents-and-families/
Community-based hub plans to host community talks and provide education around autism and behaviour therapy A Trim mother whose son has autism has set up a support hub for parents and families of children with autism. Ellen Rochford's five year old son Finn was diagnosed with autism in 2018 and along with Behaviour Specialist, Maura Collins, she has set up South Meath Autism Support Hub (SMASH). "The main aim of SMASH is to offer information about autism to support parents and families and to raise awareness and acceptance within our communities. We aim to do this, by hosting community talks to both educate and inspire…. "It’s my hope the hub will provide this personal support that parents and people with autism need and deserve. I’m hoping the community will come out and support us to make this Hub a place for people, to go to, when they start their autism journey." Ellen, who left her job in Financial Services, when Finn was diagnosed said that at the beginning they were very positive…. Maura Collins was the behaviour specialist in question. She has 20 years experience working in home and school settings, with both children and adults with ASD, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, intellectual disabilities and behavioural concerns, designing and implementing person centered, evidence-based programmes. "The difference in Finn in just a few months has been amazing," says Ellen. "Things have just taken off for him." "Before Covid, we couldn't go for walks as a family. Finn could just run off or drop to the ground. He was in a buggy until August of last year and wasn't toilet trained. "Now he is independent, going everywhere on a scooter Maura taught him to use, and he was toilet trained within three days in March…. "We felt there was nothing to support people dealing with autism and that is why we set up SMASH. "We launched our social media platforms and within a week we had 350 members. "The demand is there. We intend to have community talks and provide education around autism and the interventions that aren't advertised because the government doesn't fund them….