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Parents to form new pressure group in bid to improve autism support after Wick meeting

By John Davidson

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Dan Mackay is a former manager at Thor House.
Dan Mackay is a former manager at Thor House.

Parents of children as well as adults with autism spectrum conditions in the far north are planning to form a pressure group to campaign for improvements in support.

An inaugural meeting was held in Wick last week when the group shared concerns about a lack of educational and social care support for their family members in Caithness.

Dan Mackay, a retired care inspector and a former manager of Thor House in Thurso, set up the gathering after concerns were raised with him over the situation.

Around 30 family members attended the meeting and shared a wide range of experiences. Mr Mackay said they painted a bleak picture of a system that seemed to be stacked against them.

The meeting heard that former day care provision for adults had dropped from 50 places between Wick and Thurso to just 15 at Thor House, which has a waiting list.

The families are now looking to constitute themselves to act as a pressure group to campaign for improvements, with plans being drawn up to target the statutory agencies – Highland Council and NHS Highland – which they perceive are failing them.

According to Mr Mackay, who began his social work career in 1976, “it was amazing to see such a huge turnout of parents for this inaugural meeting, yet so sad to hear how they have been failed time and time again by the authorities. I came away with the distinct feeling that so little progress has been made and there is so much to do”.

As well as its role as a campaigning group, the members also want to provide social support to each other as they work to secure future improvements in service delivery.

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