Crawley mum thanks Santa’s Grotto elf for helping her autistic son


A Crawley mum who founded a support group for parents with autistic children has praised the ‘exceptional service’ at County Mall’s Santa’s Grotto.

A member of staff let Jo-Ann D’Costa-Manuel’s son, who is autistic and has difficulty waiting, go to the front of its queue on Sunday (December 20).

Jo-Ann, founder of Autism Parent Empower, said: “This lovely elf has let us go to the front of the queue and has happily said any family who has a child with autism that perhaps suffers with long queues and aren’t able to wait, she will be very very happy to help you out.

“So come down and big thumbs for the Santa’s Grotto in Crwaley for being autism aware.”

Jo-Ann launched a 12-week programme to help parents with autistic children earlier this year.

It was the first of its kind in the UK and saw UK professionals support parents at home and in the community.

Central Sussex College donated the use of its kitchens, Hilton Hotel the use of its premises and Tesco supplied ingredients for food in the programme.

She said at the time of the launch: “I have walked this path with my own family and feel privileged to share the journey with other parents. Whether your child has a speech and language delay, social communication difficulties, challenging behaviour or a diagnosis of autism we are here to understand you and your family in detail and put an individual plan together unique to your child.

“After just one consultation we will effectively and efficiently work as a team to deliver the best intervention immediately. We will target key areas using evidence based intervention including ABA, Diet and Nutrition and Empowerment.”

Autism Parent Empower is a community interest company.

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