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Waikato Herald - 2021-07-23

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Support service in appeal for help

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AWaikato-bay of Plenty organisation running groups catering for autistic people aged 5 to 25 is seeking help so it can support the groups effectively. Enrich+ works alongside those living with disabilities, autism or neurodiversity, their wha¯nau and community so they can live a life like any other. It has bases in Te Awamutu, Hamilton, Tauranga and Taumarunui. Its unique, personalised programmes ensure individuals gain the skills needed to achieve their goals. Enrich+ is part of the Enrich Group Charitable Trust, a group of organisations that has common and complementary services. Chief executive Karen Scott, said its Enrich+ autism group programme had offered small group sessions for several years, starting with one group only for older teens and young adults in 2015 and growing to meet the need. “They focus on supporting people to grow through personal development, increased independence, positive interaction and enhanced community relationships. “Our Enrich+ autism groups are often the highlight of the week for many of our attendees,” she said. They have been running at a shortfall of about $15 per person, per session. “That is why we are reaching out, looking for support from individuals, and organisations. “We are seeking help to fund these important groups so they remain at an affordable level for attendees and their families and can continue to operate with small staffing ratios.” Those on the programme currently pay $20 per session and Enrich Group funds the rest. Common challenges for autistic people lie in the areas of communicating, social interaction, anxiety, overcoming rigid routines and managing inflexible behaviours. Enrich+ service manager Karen Layton, a registered psychologist, says caregivers regularly provide feedback about the laughter they hear during group sessions. “One client recently told us she learned how to make friends and there were people who shared her interests and who understood her. “These groups have such a positive impact, not only on the attendees but also their families’ lives.” There are several ways individuals and organisations can support the autism groups. These are available on the Enrich+ website under About.

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