I have known SIGNAL (and its predecessor charity, ALAS) and cooperated closely with the charity since I first came to work in Lewisham in 1993. The work of SIGNAL has grown over the years with a large increase in the numbers of identified children and young people with autism, and their families.
SIGNAL has always been a very effective and essential charity providing real support at different levels to hundreds of families. It is so professional and well-run. It provides information, moral support, parent peer support, access to a library and a number of really useful services and events. Regular educational meetings bring in invited speakers to address a wide range of relevant and important issues for children and their families.
SIGNAL has also been a very important partner with the statutory organisations (community services for child development and disability) in the development of statutory resources and services.
The vast majority of the members are parents and carers of children and young people with autism spectrum disorders which ensures a welcoming approach to new families. Professional members also assist in the running of the charity, with professional advice. There are specific professional advisers from health and education.
SIGNAL is an essential part of the fabric of support and service provision for children with autism in Lewisham and beyond. Many do not realise how much work is involved in running a charity which provides such services, and yet family expectations are high that SIGNAL will deliver for them. It is a great resource for parents of children and older people themselves with autism.