Latest news and events from Autism Argyll

Autism Argyll AGM 2018

Nearly 40 people attended Argyll’s AGM which was held on 13th September at the Three Villages Hall, Arrochar. The day began with the AGM business. Alison Leask delivered her chair’s report which can be read in full here.  In the report, Alison gave an overview of Autism Argyll’s activities over the past year. She also spoke of the group’s changes in circumstances and the lack of engagement from Argyll and Bute Council.

A proposal was put to the meeting that “In accordance with our constitution, Autism Argyll be dissolved and any remaining assets be transferred to Scottish Autism’s Get Set 4 Autism project”. This proposal was passed unanimously by members present.

Following the business part of the meeting, there was a presentation by Dean Beadle who gave an interesting, informative and amusing insight into his experiences of living with autism. After lunch, Irene McIlchere and Maureen Mackintosh from the Get Set 4 Autism project gave an overview of their work and what had been achieved so far. The day ended with a short presentation by Charlene Tait who spoke of the power of parents through the years to promote change and good practice.

Feedback from those attending show the positive impact of the event and of Autism Argyll over the past 18 years.

A day of highs and low- the low because we are losing a powerful force which has worked to address the needs of autistic children and their families – and that a strong causal element in this loss has been the neglect and lack of commitment by our local authority and the impact of financial cuts being forced on the most needy, locally and nationally. Secondly – an absolutely inspiring delivery by the guest speaker who pointed the ways forward and an outline by AA of its ongoing and substantive achievements over the last 18 years.”

“Very informative and interesting speakers. Really sorry to see Autism Argyll disappear after all the amazing work you’ve done. Best wishes to you all”

“Such an excellent speaker. Managed to combine advice, insight and guidance with charm and humour. It was a real pleasure to hear him speak. Yet another “world class” guest at an Autism Argyll event. I have learned so much over the years by attending these events. They have always been organised in such a professional way and have been so supportive to staff working with children with autism and their parents”

“I enjoyed the whole day and I am sad it will be the last Autism Argyll meeting. AA has been a great source of information and friendship. I feel better equipped to help my son through life because of Autism Argyll. I very much enjoyed Dean Beadle’s talk, It was informative, funny and positive... Thanks!!”

Autism Argyll AGM 2017

Autism Argyll’s AGM was held on the 26th September at the Lochfyne Hotel, Inveraray. Over 30 people attended. The day began with the AGM business. The new committee is

Chair: Alison Leask

Treasurer: Lorna Davidson.

Committee members: Sheila Campbell, Gina Stewart, Jim Curnyn, Julia Hannah, Anne Horn, Alison McQuade, Susan Cook, Fiona McClean and Angela Henderson

Alison delivered her Chair’s report which described Autism Argyll’s achievements over the past year. A copy of her report can be read here. Alison also spoke of her disappointment at the lack of engagement at strategic level with the Autism Strategy group and Implementation Plan.

Following the business part of the meeting, there was a presentation by Mr Bill Colley. Bill spoke about the complexities of autism and ADHD and looked at issues around diagnosis and support for those with the conditions. Bill’s presentation was thought provoking and feedback showed he had provided lots of food for thought.

One person wrote, “... Link between ADHD & ASD raise all sorts of issues that I’m off to think hard about. Stimulating. Managed to sustain an interesting presentation despite quite complex subject matter.”

and another said “Interesting presentation which has given me plenty to think about especially in relation to the families I support. Will check out some of the resources and studies mentioned.”

You can read more about Bill and his work here.

Spring Event 2016

 “Good practical ideas to help negotiate the “tech” future”

“Excellent presentation. Admirably comprehensive covering from the big issues of IT use and on to the more specific outline of apps”.

“I really enjoyed today’s talk in using technology. It was very informative and positive to hear all the benefits and how to ensure you use it well”.

Just three of the many positive comments we received following our Spring event which was held in Inverary on the 28th March. 40 people listened to Sue Fletcher-Watson give an interesting and thought provoking presentations on the use of technology with people on the autism spectrum. 

Sue’s presentations can be found on her website

Peter Vermeulen Visits Argyll

“A really enjoyable day. Peter is a very enthusiastic speaker and holds the room. Turned a lot of pre existing ideas on their head”

“It was very thought provoking and will make me really think about my practice and questioning!! “

“Absolute pleasure to have attended such an informative and excellent event. Peter was a delight to listen to and made the day fun with vast amounts of learning”

These are just a few of the many positive comments following Peter Vermeulen’s presentation in Arrochar on the 16th March. Nearly 100 people turned up to listen to Peter explain the difficulties with communication and understanding experienced by those on the autism spectrum and how we can help by making the context of the situation clear. 

Peter’s talk was both informative and entertaining and Autism Argyll are delighted that he made the journey from Belgium to be with us.

The handout from the presentation can be downloaded here

  Autism context blindness and concrete communication.pdf

Argyll and Bute Autism Strategy

In November 2011 the Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson and Councillor Douglas Yates on behalf of COSLA launched the Scottish Strategy for Autism. The Scottish Government called on the Scottish Local Authorities to produce Strategic Plans in support of the National Strategy for Autism using the results from a national project which mapped the services available in all Scottish local authorities, and the principles set out in the Strategy itself.

Argyll & Bute and NHS Highland’s Autism Strategy Group commissioned Scottish Autism to produce the Argyll & Bute Strategy for Autism. This is a policy planning document which sets the scene for the allocation of resources to need, resources which are inevitably constrained at the present time.

A copy of this document can be downloaded here

 Autism Argyll AGM 2015

Autism Argyll held their AGM on Monday 21st September in the Lochfyne Hotel, Inveraray.

Chair, Alison Leask delivered her report which talked about the various activities Autism Argyll has been involved with over the past year. 79 books have been borrowed from our library and there have been almost 2000 visits to our website each month. We receive around 6 contacts each month from people looking for advice and information. We continue to deliver autism awareness talks and those have been well received.

Alison emphasised the need for the local authority and health board to fully engage with the implementation of the Argyll & Bute Autism Strategy. A full copy of Alison’s report can be read here.

Members were elected to the committee which is as follows

Chair - Alison Leask

Treasurer - Lorna Davidson

Members - Sheila Campbell, Gina Stewart, Alison McQuade, Fiona El Taweel, Anne Horn, Julia Hannah, Jim Curnyn.         

After the business meeting, a very interesting presentation was delivered by Dr Michael McCreadie who has been a regular visitor to Autism Argyll events and always says something to make you think. This year he talked about Mindfulness and Autism and the way it can be used to reduce anxiety and stress for people on the spectrum and their parents/carers.

One parent commented afterwards that it had been “A thoroughly enjoyable and informative day. Thank you to all who organised it and provided such a warm welcome.”


Autism Argyll AGM 2014

Autism Argyll held its AGM in the Lochfyne Hotel, Inveraray on Monday, 1st September. In her Chair’s Report, Alison Leask talked about what Autism Argyll had achieved over the last year. Issues for our library have increased from last year, with 101 titles being borrowed and our website attracts 1552 visits per month. We continue to be contacted by parents and professionals looking for information and advice with approximately 8 first contacts per month.

We were asked by 6 different groups including social work staff, classroom assistants and voluntary organisations to provide autism awareness training. Evaluations show these were well received;

“All presentations were full of information. Was fantastic to hear from parents who have children with autism and how it has affected their lives. I feel much more informed now and will be more confident.”

“I really enjoyed learning about how to work with autism and look to learn more.”

“Will definitely recommend to other groups”.

Alison also updated the meeting on our joint application with Scottish Autism to the Big Lottery Fund for a post diagnostic support worker. The application has successfully passed Stage One and we should hear the result of Stage Two in October this year.

A copy of Alison’s report in full can be found here.

After the AGM, Dr Michael McCreadie gave a very interesting presentation and argued that the source of a lot of the behaviours shown by those on the spectrum is the result of stress and anxiety. Therefore we should be aiming to reduce stress and anxiety in people with autism, and their families and carers, more than focussing on the behaviours themselves.

Autism Argyll AGM 2013

Parents, carers and professionals attended our Annual General Meeting on Thursday 19th September at the Lochfyne Hotel, Inveraray. In her chair’s report, Alison Leask, spoke of Autism Argyll’s work over the previous year. Parents and professionals contact us regularly looking for information and advice, our autism specific library continues to be well used and we have over 1 000 visitors to our website each month. This year Autism Argyll has been very involved in the development of an Autism Strategy for Argyll and Bute. Alison’s report can be read in full here.

The newly elected committee is

Chair: Alison Leask      Treasurer: Lorna Davidson

Members: Shelia Campbell, Anna Cryans, Jim Curnyn, Fiona El Taweel, Alison Hay, Alison McQuade, Gina Stewart.

Speakers at our AGM this year were Dr David Simmons from the School of Psychology at the University of Glasgow and Louise Melia from Melia Legal.

David gave a very interesting presentation on sensory sensitivities and autism. He spoke of recent research which looks at the ways in which people on the autism spectrum experience the world differently from the neurotypical population and possible reasons why this is the case. You can find out more about David’s work on the Autism Research at Glasgow University website.

After lunch, Louise presented an in-depth talk on guardianship, why it is needed and the process involved. This is an issue which many parents don’t consider but one which is very important if they wish to ensure they have the legal right to be involved in their child’s welfare in adulthood. Louise said she was happy for parents to contact her with any questions. More information on guardianships can be found on the Office of Public Guardians website or you can contact Louise at

Autism Argyll AGM  2012

Autism Argyll’s AGM was held at the Lochfyne Hotel, Inveraray on Wednesday 19th September. 26 people gathered to hear Chair Alison Leask talk of Autism Argyll’s work over the past year. We have delivered awareness presentations and talks to 130 people over the past year and now have 175 members throughout Argyll and Bute. Alison’s report can be read in full here.

The newly elected committee is

Chair: Alison Leask      Treasurer: Lorna Davidson

Members: Shelia Campbell, Jim Curnyn, Fiona El Taweel, Fiona Johnson, Alison Hay, Anna Hendrick, Tony McManus, Alison McQuade and Gina Stewart.

Our AGM speakers this year were Dorothy MacDonald from Achievement Bute and Charlene Tait from Scottish Autism. Dorothy spoke of the Achievement Bute Autism Project. This project, funded by the Scottish Government, supports young people on the autism spectrum helping them to develop self-confidence and independent living skills. Dorothy’s presentation included an interesting case study of one of the young people who is talking part in the project. This young man has been helping Achievement Bute with their summer programme. He was greatly valued for his contribution and, in his own words, “ I loved being part of a the team.”

After lunch, Charlene launched Scottish Autism’s online parent/carer support programme, “Right Click”. This programme runs for 5 weeks and provides knowledge of autism with practical ideas and strategies to help parents deal with the day to day issues they face with their child. Topics such as toileting, sleeping and eating are dealt with and parents are also assigned an autism advisor who can provide more specific advice.

To access the programme parents need to become members of Scottish Autism (£15 for an individual, £25 for a family). At the AGM, Alison Leask announced that Autism Argyll are happy to help our parent members  access this course by reimbursing the Scottish Autism membership fee.

To find out more about Right Click and to register your interest, click on the link below

Autism Argyll AGM 2011

“Very informative day – interesting presentations.”

“Excellent advice and strategies given to put to use in my working life. Very much feel that I have widened my knowledge and understanding of autism in terms of social play/impact of diet.”

“Lots of information from people who knew what they are talking about.”

“Fantastic practical strategies to put into practice.”

These are just some of the comments from delegates who attended an event held in Inveraray on Monday 3rd October. Autism Argyll were delighted to invite Chris White and Dave Rex to give presentations on two issues which affect those on the autism spectrum.

Chris White is a Speech & Language Therapist working for Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust. Chris researched and developed the “Social Play Record” in collaboration with children, parents, teachers, therapists and the voluntary sector. She runs workshops on social play and has published a book about it called “The Social Play Record: A toolkit for assessing and developing social play from infancy to adolescence”.

The “Social Play Record” is available from the Autism Argyll library or can be purchased from Amazon. Proceeds from the book are given to Lincolnshire Autistic Society and to Gosberton House School, both of whom were very involved in the book’s development.

Chris talked about social play and its importance in developing communication skills, social interaction and relationships. She looked at how the Social Play Record can be used to assess social play and plan interventions.

After lunch there was a presentation by Dave Rex, a dietician for NHS Highland who works with children with an ASD or ADHD diagnosis, and advising schools on how to promote healthier eating habits in all children.

Dave gave an interesting talk on how diet affects the physical health and mental wellbeing of children with an ASD diagnosis, what dietary interventions are safe, practical and effective, how to assess the adequacy of a child's diet and how to broaden the range of foods acceptable to a child with ASD.

AGM and 10th Birthday celebrations

Autism Argyll celebrated its 10th birthday at its AGM held in the Lochfyne Hotel, Inveraray on 21st September, 2010.  40 people attended on the day to hear chairperson Alison Leask talk of the group’s achievements over the past ten years.

Alison said, “Autism Argyll does not expect miracles but we do expect those on the autism spectrum to receive their rights - to receive the right support from the right people at the right time. This may be a challenge but it is not insurmountable nor is it too much too ask”. Click here to read Alison’s report in full.

After the business meeting, Charlene Tait, from the University of Strathclyde gave a presentation on the Autism Toolbox which was very well received. One person stated it was ‘Informative, interesting and informal” which is exactly how we hoped the day would be.

Everyone then enjoyed a lovely buffet lunch followed by birthday cake which had been kindly donated by Mhairi Martin from Campbeltown.

Nine parents attended our first meeting in August 2000. We now have a membership of 152 parents and professionals and have established ourselves as a reliable source of information and support for those living and working with people on the autism spectrum.

Here’s to the next ten years!

Autism Argyll AGM 2009

Autism Argyll held its 9th AGM at the Lochfyneside Hotel, Inveraray on Wednesday 16th September. 35 people attended and were welcomed by our Chair Alison Leask.

Alison delivered her annual report which detailed Autism Argyll’s activities over the past year. The highlights of the year were the delivery of ASD awareness talks to health staff throughout Argyll & Bute and our conference which had been held in May. A copy of Alison’s report can be found on this website’s documents page.

The new committee was also elected. Serving on the committee this year are:

Chair - Alison Leask

Treasurer - Lorna Davidson

Members - Sheila Campbell, Kirsty Dow, Fiona El Taweel, Jo Fraser, Tricia Grey, Alison Hay, Anna Hendrick, Gina Stewart, Peter Wright.

Following the business part of the meeting, Mary Hamilton from the Scottish Society for Autism gave an interesting presentation on ASD and Emotional Well Being.

Autism Argyll launches website   2009


Autism Argyll will launch their new website at their AGM on Wednesday 16th September, 2009.

Until now the group’s website has been hosted by Argyll CVS (Council for Voluntary Services) on the Argyll Communities Website and Autism Argyll are very grateful to them for all their support over the past four years. However, Autism Argyll are delighted that their ambition of having their own website has finally been realised.

Visitors to the website will be able to find out about Autism Argyll, download the latest newsletters and find links to a variety of other websites which provide good quality information on ASD.

At present, the site is funded by the Big Lottery and future funding will be identified for maintenance of the website.