Autism family group launching in Portrush

Tyler and mum Lauren McGee.
Tyler and mum Lauren McGee.

A North Coast mother is helping to spearhead a push for improved Autism support services for families living in the area.

Lauren McGee is mum to Tyler, 6 who was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. At the time, Lauren fundraised to pay for therapy, which she feels has changed his life.

Now Tyler is thriving in Mill Strand Integrated Primary School with the help of a classroom assistant and is fully verbal, despite Lauren being told he was unlikely to achieve either of these milestones.

Lauren, who works for East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden and runs her own photography business, is keen to help other families who are finding themselves struggling in a “complicated and broken system”.

Lauren says: “Families think that getting a diagnosis will open doors for their children and they will automatically get the help they need, but that is not the case. Families receive a diagnosis and get offered to go on courses about Autism, very little is child specific.

“Budgets are strained and services are minimal to say the least, especially here on the North Coast. Everything seems to be in Belfast or close to it, which is so frustrating.”

Through her work in Claire Sugden’s constituency office and in her own time, Lauren has been engaging with a range of organisations to find ways to bring services to the North Coast.

On Tuesday, November 7 she is holding an information and ideas evening for families of those with Autism, in Portrush Town Hall.

“No one knows the needs of our children better than us parents and carers. We are the only people who will make our children our top priority. I feel if we work together, we could really make a difference; at the very least we can support each other.”

If you would like more information, contact Lauren at lmcg@hotmail.co.uk or through Tyler’s Facebook page: Tyler’s Journey With Autism.

The information and ideas meeting will be held in Portrush Town Hall 7pm – 9pm. Everyone is welcome to attend, a formal autism diagnosis not necessary.