THE mother of an autistic boy says she is “devastated” at the planned closure of a club helping those in Herefordshire with the condition and with Asperger’s.

Emma Bright says there is nowhere else in the county like the Skillz Clubs held in Leominster and Ross-on- Wye because they offer children activities vital to their development.

Writing to Herefordshire Council on behalf of a number of concerned parents, Emma said she understands savings need to be made but urged the authority not to leave families like hers in the lurch.

“In general there is a very low level of support available to children with autism and Asperger’s in Herefordshire,” said Emma, whose 12-year-old son Matthew is autistic and attends the classes.

“Not protecting these valuable and vital services leaves our children unsupported during a period in their lives which will affect how they develop and progress towards becoming an adult.

“This is devastating news to us all.

“It needs to be recognised that Skillz Club is a place where our children can go to learn new skills that will help them in the future.

Other clubs do not offer this.”

Autism is a lifelong condition affecting how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

Asperger’s is characterised by difficulties with social interaction and communication as well as flexibility of thinking or imagination.

The clubs have been run by youth service professionals for the past 12 months.

Philippa Granthier, head of children’s services commissioning with the council, said following a youth service review it was decided it would not be possible to staff the clubs from the end of March.

“We understand how important these clubs are to the young people and families who attend them,” she said. “We have a range of activities available for children with autism and Asperger’s through our short breaks programme, the details of which are available on the council’s website.”

She said a new programme providing services to those youngsters should be rolled out in October.