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(UK) Andover: Mom supports "neurodivergent" kids; has plans for new school

June 21, 2021, Andover Advertiser: Koala Community Hub begins to support neurodivergent people

South central England An Andover woman has set up a community hub aimed at supporting neurodivergent communities in Andover. Tori Rist has launched the Koala Community Hub, which will hold a variety of groups targeted at those with conditions such as autism and ADHD to provide specialist support for their needs. Her group comes ahead of a planned special school, Andover Small School, which she aims to launch soon. Tori told the Advertiser: “There’s so much demand, it’s crazy. We’ve asked what people need, and some want help navigating education, some want support for their own mental health, and there’s so much else…. Tori's daughter Florence is neurodivergent, with Tori having spent many years helping people as a teacher as well as co-founding the Andover Isolation Group in lockdown. Over the past few years, she has been the driving force behind the Andover Small School, which plans to set up a new special school in or near to Andover. The community hub spun out of that, with Tori saying: “Last year, when we opened the Andover Isolation Group, we had a lot of contact from neurodiverse families who were struggling…. Tori launched an adults group last year, and has plans to start a parents group and teens group in the coming months. There may also be groups for others, like toddlers and carers, in future, and Tori hopes to begin running them weekly by applying for funding due to the demand. She said: “We’re getting so many requests for support in Andover as there’s not much to support neurodiverse families, such as autism and ADHD. We’ve got Mencap, who are amazing, but they tend to focus on learning disabilities alongside autism, so it’s kind of a different service.” … “We’re very much in the infancy stages, developing our website and offer, and it’s very important that we want to work with other organisations and agencies in the area,” Tori said. “Somebody looking for some services from us may be better served by Andover Mencap or Unity depending on what it is, so we’re really keen to work with them.”…


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