Mum calls for Mansfield businesses to be more autism friendly
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It comes after she launched a specialist hub to support families with sensory issues earlier this year.
Sharon Weston, 42, is urging companies in the Mansfield area to adapt their businesses to better cater for people with autism.
She claims 'there is just not enough out there' in terms of activities for children in the area and wants more businesses in Mansfield to commit to offering specialist hours - where it is less busy and noisy - to make it more accessible for people with autism.
Sharon explained why it is so important for companies to adapt their services for people with special needs.
"People with autism tend to hide away, there is just not enough there for people to do,” she said.
"Some companies hold stuff for once a month for you to do.
"It becomes a challenge when you go out and children get stressed because there's too many people and you just think you would rather stay in."
In January, she set up a community hub for people with sensory issues - where families can go to find support and advice.
The move came after Sharon's 11-year-old son Cody was diagnosed with ADHD and autism and she realised he felt isolated from his peers.
The Oasis Hub, which aims to help adults and children with disabilities, was organised alongside Liz Phillips at the Lifespring Centre.
Since the Ollerton-based scheme was launched, Sharon has been 'overwhelmed' by the group's success.
"It's been absolutely fantastic - at the first meeting in January we had everyone there and there was such a good vibe.
"Everyone was there, it was just fantastic for me, I was just so overwhelmed, I was stood in that room full of people and thought I have done this.
"Parents were coming up to me and saying this is really need in my area.
"Loads of people have turned up - it's been a success."
Sharon explained how difficult it can be for people once they receive their official diagnosis and said she hopes the support group will help others to open up and feel less alone.
"When you get diagnosed, my son said 'why are there not more people like me around me?'
"There must be other people out there but everyone tends to hide away and keep themselves to themselves."
But sharing experiences with other parents has helped, Sharon said: "We are all in the same situation, we don't think anything of it we just deal with it, no issues - we just get on with it.
"When you get your diagnosis, you feel on your own.
"But we support each other and other parents who know what you are going through."
Sharon has also set up a dedicated Facebook group to help others find accessible places to eat and activities to do - called 'Autism friendly places'.
The private group which has 97 members serves as a directory for families to find out about accesible businesses in Nottinghamshire.
The Oasis Hub is open on the last Saturday of every month from 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Lifespring Centre, New Ollerton.