The RAFT early intervention service is a partnership service, led by Autism NI, which aims to build and strengthen relationships for families of children with Autism aged 12 and under. The RAFT service supports families in the Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey areas in a number of way, including:
- Encouraging early childhood intervention through a programme of practical skills training
- Training courses for parents and family members
- Support groups for family members in the community
Families referred to the RAFT service will engage in a home-based programme for up to 6 weeks. These meetings will provide family members with practical tools and support to manage their children's behaviours, play and socialisation. Each meeting will last approximately one to two hours and topics discussed may include:
- The use of visual structure to help a child understand
- Structuring the home environment
- Setting up and maintaining positive routines
- Daily living skills and play skills
- Organisation skills, for example, homework schedules
Training will also be available to support parents and family members to build up knowledge, skills and coping strategies. Ongoing community support will be available in the form of local support groups that will be set up for families involved in the service.
Who can make a referral?
Referrals are made through the Northern Ireland and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) and Autism NI's partnership organisations - Sure Start, Gingerbread, Women's Aid, Home Start and Action for Children.
ASD Information Sessions
"I have just finished a 6 week program from the RAFT Team. This program has been totally invaluable to my family, and without sounding over dramatic it has honestly been life-changing from the first two weeks. To have someone to talk to openly and honestly about the daily struggles of a child with Autism and not to feel judged but genuinely supported was amazing.
My 8 year old son can be very anxious especially at night when going to bed; he could be up and down 15+ times a night. After talking things over with the Intervention Officer we came up with bedtime tokens and a social story to help reduce his anxiety at night time.
From the first week of using these visuals, my son went from getting up 15+ ties a night to just 2 or 3 times. At the end of our 6 week programme, he has gone a whole week without getting out of bed at all, allowing myself to have some much needed 'mummy time' as my son calls it.
His anxiety levels have gone from one hundred down to ten with the beautiful, colourful visual aids and social stories that the Intervention Officer has tailored to my son's need. This is only one of the many things that we have talked through and helped with over the weeks as I have had many other struggles which were helped with visual aids.
I now have a happier and much more confident little boy and I can honestly say I feel I have a lot more knowledge and above all assurance in moving forward and all in just 6 weeks. Thank you to the RAFT Team for all of your help and support over these last weeks."