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Cygnets Services 

North Lancashire

The Barnardo’s Cygnet service is widely recognised for its award winning parenting support programme

that is now available to parents of children on the autistic spectrum aged 5-18 in North Lancashire.

Please read information on the core programme and additional sessions.

Due to the current situation and Covid-19, face-to-face courses will not be taking place until

the science advice says it is safe to do so. 

However, there is an online version of the Parent Programme which is being delivered using Cisco Webex video calls, phone and email support. Groups of parents are allocated a block of sessions with the course emailed to them in sections weekly with a video call or phone call every 7 days. There are 6 sessions in total.

A summary of the sessions

  1. In this session we give you the opportunity to reflect on your family and questions you may have relating to autism. Then we will find out about what you already know about autism through a quiz.

  2. Autism an Overview – Session 2 will provide a description of a child on the autistic spectrum plus some of their strengths and challenges they face. There is also an opportunity to think about your journey and the need to look after yourself.

  3. Sensory needs – Session 3 will look at the environment in which a child on the autistic spectrum may live. The senses in autism can be different and understanding sensory differences can help us to understand how children/young people may be experiencing the world.

  4. Communication – In session 4 we will start by describing the importance of communication and how this can be different for people on the Autistic spectrum. We can then look at techniques and resources that can be used to communicate with children/young people more effectively. 

  5. Understanding behaviour – Session 5 we will begin by looking at general human behaviour before considering some specific issues linked to autism which can explain the behaviour of children/young people on the spectrum. We will then move on to look at the “Iceberg” behaviour framework to help us explore behaviour before thinking of potential strategies.

  6. Supporting behaviour – In the last session we will look at a second behaviour framework – STAR. Then we will provide an overview of possible strategies and key principles linked to supporting behaviour.


Any parent carers or professionals who require more information, please email Lucy Ellis at

The enrolment form for all parents who wish to complete the course can be found by clicking below 

Parent / carers core programme

This programme is designed for parents and carers of children and young people aged 5-18 with an autistic spectrum condition. The programme is designed to:

  • to increase parents understanding of autistic spectrum conditions

  • to help parents develop their knowledge on how a child on the autistic spectrum experiences the world and what drives their behaviour

  • to guide parents through practical strategies they can use with children

  • to direct parents to relevant ASC resources

  • to give parents the opportunity to meet with other parents who have had similar experiences and to gain support and learn from each other



This is a core Cygnet programme which is delivered over six, two and a half - three hour sessions which sequentially work towards behaviour management and covers a number of topics:


  • Autism & diagnosis

  • Communication

  • Sensory Issues

  • Understanding behaviour

  • Managing behaviour

  • Choice of topic decided by parents/carers


These two additional sessions aim to acknowledge the concerns that parents may have in relation to children with a brother or sister on the autistic spectrum.

Each session should last between 2–2½ hours and can be delivered to parents who have accessed the Cygnet, National Autistic Society Early Bird or Early Bird Plus programmes.

■ Styles of sibling development

■ Through sibling’s eyes

■ Through parent’s eyes

■ Practical strategies

Puberty, sexual wellbeing and relationships

Cygnet for professionals

Cygnet offers a training programme for organisations to provide their own two day training for their staff . This training is for staff who work with children on the autistic spectrum to enhance their knowledge and explore a toolkit of strategies to use with children and young people.

Day One

This provides staff with an understanding of the different characteristics of Autism and how these can be displayed in behaviour. The training looks at the following areas in further detail:

■ Social Interaction

■ Communication

■ Rigidity, Imagination and Obsessions

■ Sensory Issues.


Day Two

This training builds on the first day’s training to explore different behaviour management frameworks and strategies to use with children on the autistic spectrum.

The training looks at the following areas:

■ Behaviour framework assessment tools

■ Communication aids

■ Strategies to reduce sensory anxiety

■ Key principles for behaviour management

Supporting Siblings

These three additional sessions aim to put parents in the shoes of their child to explore a potentially confused understanding of their body, sexual desires and relationships. Each session should last between 2½–3 hours and can be delivered to parents who have accessed the Cygnet, National Autistic Society Early Bird or Early Bird Plus programmes. Evidence suggests that the materials used in these sessions can also be beneficial when used directly with young people on the autistic spectrum.


The PSWR sessions have a different delivery style to the core and sibling sessions. Because of the subject matter and after consultation it was felt a far more activity based programme would enhance learning and mutual support

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