New autism support service launches for primary school children

Parents Talking Asperger’s (PTA) is an award-winning, voluntary autism support group for parents of children and young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome (High Functioning Autism) living in or around Banbury, north Oxfordshire. Online, PTA has national and international reach.

To meet the increasing demand for support of local younger children, PTA is launching a new service – PTA Junior. Specifically geared for schoolchildren from Foundation to Year 5, both pre- and post-diagnosis of Asperger’s, PTA Junior will hold its first Fun Night for children, parents and siblings on Thursday 15th September at 4.30-6.30pm, at its Baptist Centre HQ in Middleton Cheney. Thereafter it will run every other Thursday in school term time, with the main PTA Fun Night for older children convening on 8th September, 6.30-8.30pm, also running every other Thursday. PTA Junior has its own Facebook page for parents, giving information on the group and inviting them to share online in private or public.

PTA was founded by Karen Irvani, the mother of a then 13-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome in April 2012, and the group today supports a community of over 1,000 families and continues to grow. Such is the expansion that Karen is due to start a degree in Autism via University of Birmingham (distance learning) next month to increase her knowledge in order to further support families. “Our regular Fun Nights for children and young people of all ages have been really successful over the past four and a half years. However, as PTA has grown, we’ve noted the need not just for earlier sessions for younger children but also a different set of activities in order to engage and stimulate them, according to their age.”

Activities will be split into four zones: Creativity zone, Activity Zone, Computing Zone and Sensory Zone and PTA has researched the relevant activities, toys and games for primary school age children with Asperger’s/High Functioning Autism. Karen adds, “Our Pastoral Manager Reverend John Jeffs is now purchasing all of the new equipment using some of the funds very kindly donated by our private benefactors, a local couple with an autistic grandson.”

Lisa Bhanu is mum to a four-year-old boy with Asperger’s and will be one of PTA Junior’s Leaders. and Lisa says, “I am so happy to be part of PTA Junior and to be helping other families who are struggling and perhaps just starting their journey either before or after diagnosis. For me, PTA means never having to explain or excuse my son’s behaviour – everything is accepted and no-one judges. We all just get each other. Come and join us for a cuppa and a chat, whilst your children play.”

Karen concludes, “Living with Asperger’s can be confusing, tough and lonely. Families don’t need to struggle alone… come and be part of PTA.”

Anyone wishing to attend the first PTA Junior Fun Night should contact Karen on or find Parents Talking Asperger’s Junior on Facebook.

About Parents Talking Asperger’s
Parents Talking Asperger’s (PTA) is an award-winning voluntary support group for parents of children and young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome living in or around Banbury, north Oxfordshire. PTA Junior is a service of Parents Talking Asperger’s.

The group’s main aim is to create a support forum enabling parents to share the highs and lows of living a life that’s wired rather differently to the perceived Neuro-Typical “norm”. Its secondary aim is to seek the help of the Autism and educational community to promote awareness and positive life change for young ‘Aspergian’ people, their siblings and their parents.

Today, PTA has a virtual community of over 1,000 families primarily in north/rest of Oxfordshire with regular contributors from around the world. PTA receives family referrals from the National Autistic Society, other autism charities and Special Educational Needs (SEN) professionals from local schools.

2015 – Finalist, National Autistic Society Autism Professional Awards
2013 – Oxford Community & Voluntary Action for “inspirational and dedicated work”

PTA’s Fun Nights for children/young people, siblings and parents take place at our headquarters near Banbury on alternative Thursdays in term time between 6.30-8.30pm and activities include Wii, iPads, computer games, table tennis, table soccer, air hockey and sensory room chill-out. From September 2016, PTA will be launching PTA Junior, for primary school age children.