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REACH North West
Reaching their true potential
Kids Playing
Reach North West
Reach In The Community

REACH North West

REACH North West is a voluntary community group that supports autistic children and their families. We create individualised support packages to meet the whole families needs.

We help children to REACH their true potential by providing services that assist children to overcome communication difficulties and barriers to learning using a multi-disciplinary approach.

In addition we also provide practical advice, information, training and build partnerships with families, school and other professionals

Manchester Airport 2

Hidden Disabilities



Manchester Airport are working on ways to identify how they can improve the airport experience for their vulnerable passengers who may not want to share details of their invisible disabilities or use the airport special assistance service.

They can now offer you a sunflower lanyard to wear on your journey through the airport

This will identify you to staff as someone who may need additional support or understanding

Staff have been specially trained to recognise the lanyards.

;** Please note this lanyard permits access to the family and priority lanes at security as well as the use of their special assistance lanes at the UK Border (passport control) on arrival into Manchester Airport, this helps to avoid the sometimes long queues.

To pick up a lanyard at Manchester, please go to one of the Assistance Reception areas. These are available in the Check-in halls of Terminal 1 A and B, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

They will be happy to give you a lanyard – you do not need to book the special assistance for wheelchair users – unless you do require a wheelchair of course – otherwise you would just collect your lanyard at any of the above assistance desks.

** Please note Manchester airport are unable to post a lanyard to your home address in any circumstance. Please collect a lanyard from their assistance desks on your day of travel or in advance.


"The Lanyard initiative is fantastic – we have used this each time we fly and travel often – the assistance desk staff are great and happily provided us with a lanyard – no issues awkward questions at all – we went to drop off our bags and was ushered to a free desk and didn’t queue at all – we then headed over to security and was sent down the assistance lane, there was a queue of those needing assistance but it was ½ the length of the regular queue. We took out our DVD players and numerous electronics for the trip and popped them all in the trays and my husband went through, he got stopped and searched so I had my son go through and wait for me and then I went through – my son did beep so was searched – I get this and was happy the airport are still vigilant! I explained why he was being searched and the security man did wait while I explained, so it doesn’t stop security doing their job which is as it should be but getting to security was a doddle! – all done we went through to the lounges. Boarding- airline staff were great and asked if he’d like to go first or last – we went first and got settled in. Really have to say this Lanyard is a fantastic help! Thank you Manchester Airport"!

The sunflower room – Manchester


The Sunflower Room in Terminal 1 is to aid Special Assistance Guests who need to break away from the noise, bright lights and crowds of the main Departure Lounge to help them relax and feel calm in a quieter environment.

Guests who require use of the room will be guided here as part of the Special Assistance Service or just ask a staff member where to find it.


Liverpool Airport

If you or someone you are travelling with has a hidden disability, travelling through an airport can be an overwhelming experience.

We have provided a guide showing you what to expect when at the airport.

Click here to download the Guide to Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Before you travel

Printing off and talking about the sort of things you may experience at Liverpool John Lennon Airport using the guide may help to prepare for the journey if you haven't flown through the airport before.

You may wish to visit the airport before your travel date so that new surroundings are familiar on the day.  All car parks, check in and arrival meeting areas can be accessed at any time. Departure lounge visits may be available on request and can be arranged by emailing us atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pre-book assistance

When you book your flights or holiday please tell your airline or travel agent if you or anyone in your travelling party has a hidden disability. This will help the on-board crew as well as agents at the check-in desks and departure gates understand your circumstances and they will be able to provide appropriate assistance, if required.

Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard and Butterfly Flyer

From May 2019 you can request a Sunflower Lanyard or a Butterfly Flyer

The Butterfly Flyer incorporates the Sunflower logo which is recognised UK wide as the symbol of hidden disabilities:


We are happy to be able to provide a Butterfly Flyer or Sunflower Lanyard to assist passengers through Security, either independently or with help from Assistance service partners.

If you would like a Butterfly Flyer or Sunflower Lanyard please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your flight number and date of departure. Please note that the voucher is not a fast track ticket through Security, but is designed to assist you through the process as smoothly as possible.

Contact REACH North West

If you have any questions about Reach North West or any of the courses or events that we run please use the form below, we will respond as soon as possible.


Foxfields Logo

At Foxfields Therapeutic Horse Riding Centre we offer Equine-Assisted Therapy sessions for individuals with disabilities and special educational needs. Working with horses can improve social, cognitive and physical skills, as well as being an enjoyable activity for all ages. Established in July 2019, Foxfields is a 4* Centre licensed by Bolton Council.

All of our sessions are tailored to the needs of each individual. Focussing on progression to achieving their own personal goals.

The three dimensional movement of the horse helps riders to build core strength, improve balance, develop coordination and enhance posture. It is also an activity those with limited mobility can take part in and feel a sense of freedom. All riders progress differently with some riders gaining the benefits from walking on the horse, with others progressing to trotting and cantering independently. Each rider is individual with their own personal goals.

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Time To Shine

Using the mediums of Dance Drama and Yoga to allow children and adults with a disability or learning difficulty the 'TIME TO SHINE'.

Time To Shine provides Dance, Drama and Yoga for individuals with Special Educational Needs. We create a safe and fun space for children and adults with SEN and disabilities.

Working with all age groups and abilities, we provide:

  • A variety of inclusive workshops in dance, drama and yoga.
  • 1:1 therapeutic yoga sessions
  • Tailored programmes for the specific needs of an individual or group.



We are a Bolton Charity who are passionate about the outdoors and introducing people to healthy new activities, Wave Adventure organise events for individuals or groups of all ages and abilities.

Wave Adventure will take you kayaking across Lancashire’s dramatic landscape, or up it throughclimbing challenges, where you can enjoy the stunning views the North West has to offer.

We have group indoor wall climbing in Bolton, Stockport and other local climbing venues. Also, we have outdoor bouldering sessions and go on regular hikes.

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Breaking Barriers

A Charity for Disabled children, young people and their families.

Breaking Barriers NW is a Charity originally founded by 3 parents of disabled children and now managed by one of the parents with the help of a team of volunteers.

It aims to :

  • Support and reassure with a listening ear
  • Promote, improve & advance the emotional wellbeing of Parents, Carers & Families of disabled children & young people aged 0-25 years old and adults
  • Promote equality of opportunity for all sectors of the Community
  • Signpost Parents & Carers to relevant local Services

Breaking Barriers also supports Adults with Autism by facilitating a monthly support group called ABAG - Adult Bolton Autism Group.

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The Aidis Trust specialises in assistive computer technology for the disabled. Their aim is to help people, regardless of their disability, to gain the most from today’s computer technology.

We are an independent charity with over 35 years of experience working with assistive computer technology. Their mission is to improve independence for disabled people through using assistive computer technology. Assistive technology can be, for example, larger keyboards, head pointers or specialist software such as magnification and screen-reading software for the visually impaired.

They work with local, regional and national organisations to ensure that the best possible support is provided through their services. All of their services are designed to help users understand what assistive technology is available, how it can work and how it can benefit them or those they care for. The charity provides free: advice and technical support to disabled people and people who support them; training and awareness courses; helpline which is available on 0808 800 0009 and open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

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All About Diagnosis

Getting a formal autism diagnosis can mean access to the right support.

If your child is on the autism spectrum, getting a diagnosis, and a better understanding of their needs, can be a real positive move. Screening tests online and via phone apps but should not be used as an alternative to a proper assessment and diagnosis.

We know that this can be a really worrying time for you and your family and it's important to know that you're not alone, that we're here to help contact us we can point you towards any local help and support within the North West area.

The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these "limit and impair everyday functioning".

Children can be diagnosed as autistic when they’re quite young, in some cases by the age of two. But not everyone is diagnosed so early in life. Many children may to not get their diagnosis until they are older, some may not get theirs until they are an adult.

Some of the main signs that a child may be on the autism spectrum may include:

  • not drawing their parents’ or others’ attention to objects or events
  • carrying out activities in a repetitive way, for example always playing the same game in the same way, or repeatedly lining toys up in a particular order
  • resistance to change or doing things differently
  • emerging difficulties with social interaction and social communication
  • behaviour such as biting, pinching or kicking themselves or others, pica (putting inedible items in the mouth such as carpet etc).

Getting a referral

You may have reservations about pursuing a diagnosis for your child. This is your personal choice, but often a diagnosis can bring a sense of relief and help both you and school staff to better understand your child’s needs and how to meet them. It can also help your child by enabling them to identify with their autistic peers. If you are unsure about pursuing a diagnosis, it may still be a good idea to ask for a referral as you may have a long waiting time for an appointment. This will mean that you are not delaying the process while allowing yourself time to give it more thought.

Make an appointment with your GP (or health visitor in the case of young children).

Take along a list of behaviours and characteristics that make you think your child might be autistic. It could be useful to keep a note of behaviours or videos leading up to any appointments after the referral.

Once your GP or health visitor is convinced of your child’s difficulties, your child should be referred for a formal assessment (diagnosis). You may have to wait some time before you actually go for the assessment there are long waiting lists. In the meantime, your child could be referred to other teams such as a speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or other local services. These professionals might help with practical strategies you can do to help with any of the difficulties you may be facing.

Your child should have a multi-disciplinary diagnostic assessment this might include, for example, a paediatrician, a speech and language therapist and a specialist psychologist.

If your child is referred to an individual professional, it’s important that they are experienced in diagnosing autism.

Private assessments

Private diagnosis is an option, if you can pay for one, and can reduce the long waiting time. The costs of private assessments can vary, so it’s a good idea to phone several services to ask about costs, what this pays for and whether any follow-up service is offered.

Some local authorities may not accept the results of private diagnoses. They might insist upon an NHS diagnosis before they will provide services to you and your child. For this reason, we suggest that you stay on the waiting list for an NHS assessment even if you also decide to go privately.

North west diagnostic services:

Greater Manchester


Bolton Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) www.boltonft.nhs.uk 01204 390659 0-18yrs

Bolton Team Around the Child http://www.boltonft.nhs.uk 01204 463500 0-16yrs


Bury Child Development Centre (CDC) 0161 778 3031 0-19yrs

John Denmark Unit www.gmw.nhs.uk 0161 772 3400


Manchester and Salford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) www.cmft.nhs.uk 0161 203 3251

Clinical Partners http://www.clinical-partners.co.uk 0203 761 7026

Pennine Care CAMHS (Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, Tameside and Glossop)  www.penninecare.nhs.uk

Leonard, Kate (Dr) www.claritymanchester.co.uk

Trafford Extended Service (TES) http://www.gmmh.nhs.uk 0161 357 1210


Salford Community Paediatricians (CDC)  0161 212 5583


Roundway Centre http://www.roundwaycentre.org.uk 0161 440 8685

Stockport Child Development Unit (CDC) http://www.stockportcypdisp.org.uk/ourservices/cdu/


Wrightington, Leigh and Wigan Child Development Team (CDC) www.wwl.nhs.uk 01942 482468


Spectrum North West www.spectrumnorthwest.org 07800 783050

Warrington Child Development Centre and Community Paediatricians www.bridgewater-warrington.nhs.uk 01925 867867



Action for ASD – Adult Diagnostic Services 01282 415455 http://www.actionasd.org.uk This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Brief Therapy Support Services Ltd www.btss.org.uk 01772 200589

Broadoaks Child Development Centre (CDC) http://www.lancsteachinghospitals.nhs.uk 01772 621062


Clare Williams Therapies https://clarewilliamstherapies.co.uk/ 07951 278436

Blenheim House Child Development and Family Support Centre (CDC) www.bfwh.nhs.uk 01253 951615 Blackburn

East Lancashire Community Neurodevelopmental Paediatrics www.elht.nhs.uk 01254 732922 / 01282 803424


Lancashire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) 01524 834140



Southport Community Child Health (CDC) 01704 511933

St Helens

psychologist.uk  http://www.psychologist.uk 0844 357 8309

St Helens Child Mental Health Service (CAMHS)  01744 454368


Liverpool Asperger Team www.merseycare.nhs.uk


Longlands Child Development Centre (CDC)  01524 34331



Community Paediatrics, Atkinson Health Centre Barrow 01229 845953


Cumbria Child Development Services (CDC) 01228 608112



Woodview Child Development Centre (CDC)

Multiple locations

Clinical Partners

The diagnostic assessment

Here's what you can expect to happen on the day of the assessment and soon after.

On the day

In a multi-disciplinary team are likely to assess your child separately and their findings are then brought together by the team leader to inform the diagnosis. This may mean you need to go for several appointments and it may be some time between appointments or they may all sit in on an assessment and assess together.

Different diagnosticians use different methods to diagnose autism, but there are guidelines that they should follow:

The National Autism Plan for Children (NAPC) says how a multi-disciplinary assessment should be carried out. It should include:

  • reports from all settings (eg school, nursery)
  • an autism-specific developmental and family history
  • observations in more than one setting
  • cognitive, communication, behaviour and mental health assessments
  • an assessment of the needs and strengths of all family members
  • a full physical examination
  • tests and assessments for other conditions where appropriate.

The team should explain to you the reason for each test or assessment. You should be given plenty of time to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for explanations or clarification if you need them.

The diagnostic report

The diagnostician will tell you whether or not they think your child is autistic. They might do this on the day of the assessment, by phone on a later date, or in a written report that they send to you in the post.  Diagnostic reports can be difficult to read and understand in places. You can call the diagnostician to talk through any parts of the report that you find unclear. The report should give a clear diagnosis. Phrases such as ‘has autistic tendencies’ are not very helpful because they imply that a child is not autistic. This can cause problems when trying to access autism-specific support.  It is very important to understand the child's individual profile of needs. The report may say that your child presents a particular autism profile, such as an Asperger syndrome or demand avoidant profile, and may give recommendations for support.

Post-diagnostic support

An autism diagnosis can be difficult to come to terms with. You may be coping with a condition you know very little about and trying to find new ways for everyone to live together and feel supported. Some professionals offer a follow-up service, but what this includes varies. It can mean regular visits to monitor your child’s progress or telephone advice. An autism diagnosis can also come as a relief, to you and you young person – it may give you some closure and a clearer path to follower – however you feel about your/their diagnosis do know there is support out there.

Your child is the same person they have always been. Now that you know they are on the autism spectrum, you can begin to better understand their needs, arrange the right support and help them to maximise their potential, This is important for autistic children, who can benefit from appropriate, sometimes intensive, support from an early age. It’s also important for families, who may benefit from services. A diagnosis can help your child to get autism-specific support, but this doesn’t happen automatically, you may have to ask and enquire about it and support can take time.

Family Fund


The Family Fund will look at any grant request that relates to the needs of a disabled or seriously ill child, young person and their family. Families often apply for essential items such as washing machines, but we can also help young people aged 17 and under with grants that have particular meaning to their age group, such as equipment for college.

Due to our limited funding, we are not always able to meet the full cost of every item requested.

All our grants are discretionary and subject to available funding.

Merlins Magic Wand


Merlins Magic Wand welcome applications on behalf of children aged 2-18 with a Serious illness/Long Term illness, disability* or disadvantage, who would benefit from a day out at a Merlin attraction.

Merlin's Magic Wand continues to help more and more children every year but our resources are not unlimited and due to a high demand for tickets we are currently only accepting applications from those families or children we have not previously supported/have not visited us before.

We are sorry if this causes disappointment but our aim is to ensure that the maximum number of eligible children are able to enjoy a day out with us just as so many have already done.

This will be under review and should the situation change we will advise you of this on our website.

The Boparan


The Boparan Charitable Trust was set up with the sole purpose of helping as many children and young people across the nation who are disadvantaged either by poverty, disability or terminal illness.

As a charity we take great pride in taking the time to listen, understand and help families who are often forgotten about or neglected by the health and social systems.

We work at grass roots level and provide financial grants for key items to help create solutions for a better, happier life; however we believe our charity can grow and do so much more.

  • The Government have a target of eradicating child poverty – we fully support this and want to help more in deprived areas
  • Work with social services and professional bodies to provide outreach programmes for children with disabilities
  • Work with vulnerable children and young people to create a better future. Work with more hospitals and support workers to provide the best standard of care for sick children
  • Help make educational recreation more accessible to children in deprived communities.



Variety In the UK there are more than 1.3 million disabled children and young people and nearly four million children living in poverty.

Variety, the Children’s Charity exists to improve the lives of these children.

We provide practical, tangible help that makes an immediate difference to children, young people, parents, siblings and teachers.

Blessing in Disguise


Blessing in Disguise children’s charity actively raises funds through events and through the kind generosity of it's donors, support from the community and local and national businesses.

This enables us to provide a range of essential and special needs equipment, planned activities and providing a range of life enhancing experiences, via it's free service, helping to significantly improve the quality of life, encouraging social and recreational opportunities, creating many treasured memories to share with family and loved ones for terminally ill, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people across the UK.

Zebras Recreation Fund

ZebrasChildrenAdultsCharity logo

Zebras Recreation Fund was launched in January 2018.

The charity provides recreational funding to people living with disabilities, and those who have undiagnosed conditions that limit their daily life. The funding will give people the chance to access leisure facilities and recreation where they want and in their own free time. The funding can be put towards a family holiday or short break. The funding is available to disabled children and adults throughout the UK.

The Elifar Foundation


The Elifar Foundation is a charity run almost entirely by volunteers. It aims to help improve the quality of life mainly of profoundly disabled children and young adults. They fund the purchase of a wide range of specialised equipment, therapies and respite, which would otherwise be unavailable because of a lack of funds or because there is no statutory provision.

Childrens Hope Foundation

Childrens Hope

The Children’s Hope Foundation offer support to buy medical equipment, computers for educational purposes and days out.

Caudwell Children


Caudwell Children provide family support services, equipment, treatment and therapies for disabled children and their families across the UK. They also run our Enable Sport programme for talented disabled athletes and their Destination Dreams holiday for children fighting life threatening conditions.

Carers Trust

carers trust001 300x300

The Carers Trust believe that by supporting the people who care for others they can have better lives too. They provide a range of advice and practical services across the whole of the UK, as well as access for carers holiday etc.


whizz kidz

Whizz-Kidz provides essential mobility equipment, such as powered or manual wheelchairs, and recreational equipment, such as trikes, that are customised to meet individual children’s needs. The service ensures that children get the right mobility equipment, advice and training at the right time. The wheelchair training programme includes improving the use of your wheelchair, new wheelchair skills and road safety awareness.



REACH North West provide a range of services, for families of autistic children or other learning difficulties. Our services include training sessions, support services and our 'In-home outreach' services.


Our courses are designed for both parents and children using a bespoke multi disciplinary approach. These courses have a huge impact on a child's ability to overcome many barriers and communicate effectively.

Social Icon

REACH North West hire venues and provide access to environments they otherwise may not be able to access such as bowling, lunch clubs and Santa visits. These activities allow children to socialise with peers in a safe and often differentiated environment.

Social Activities

REACH North West provide parent and carers with activities that aim to bring parent and carers together and form a network of support with those that understand. The activities include lunch clubs, get togethers and workshops.


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