AN INCLUSIVE playgroup was launched in Glasgow to support the families of children with autism.

Founded by three local mothers, Autisfun aims to create a space for parents and children to make connections.

Co-founder Lyndsay Flemming said: “Two of my children have autism.

“For years, there has been nothing in this area available. After social care has been cancelled due to staff shortages and services are being cancelled, we really wanted a place where people can come to break up their days and speak to other adults without judgement.

“I feel like with children with autism, ever since my son was tiny, you get a lot of judgement.

“People often say ‘control your child’ or even if they don’t, you just panic because it might be too overwhelming or overstimulating. It might be that there is something that makes them kick off."

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Glasgow Times: Amanda McNee, Lyndsay Fleming and Cheryl MaxwellAmanda McNee, Lyndsay Fleming and Cheryl Maxwell (Image: Gordon Terris, Newsquest)

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The 36-year-old launched the group with Amanda McNee and Cheryl Maxwell.

Opening night has been a big success, with more than three dozen families taking part in the session at the Barmulloch Community Development Company (BCDC).

Children played with an inflatable castle, dolls, puzzles, building blocks and more, while the adults had food and conversation.

The mother-of-five explained that raising kids with additional support needs can be isolating and intimidating.

She said: “When you have a child diagnosed with autism, you are just given a leaflet, a letter to apply for disability benefits and sent on your way.

“It’s like being hit by a train. Even if you are expecting it, you are just sitting there that night, going ‘oh my god, this has happened to me’ and there is no support out there.

“Here, the whole family can come because often the siblings are also really affected. If you have a child who can’t manage certain places, you can’t go with their brothers and sisters either."

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After the pandemic, a lot of the services parents relied on were shut down, which made caring for youngsters even more difficult.

But the pandemic brought out a different realisation in the mums.

Lyndsay said: “During Covid, we actually felt like there was not much difference. Our lives are restricted generally.

“We have a carers’ Facebook page and we were all commenting saying ‘this doesn’t feel like it affects us’ because we were already only going to places where we were sure there are no crowds, we kept distance in case the kids didn't cope. Everything is pre-planned."

Local parents and carers were delighted by the two-hour session, which will return every Friday, in hopes to reach more and more families.

She added: "It's going great so far, we had to cap the numbers because it was just going to get too busy with everyone who had shown interest."

The group can be found every Friday at Barmulloch Community Development Company, from 4pm.