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Santa's special gift to children with autism

With Christmas just a month away, a visit to Santa's grotto will be on many families' list of festive treats.

But for children with autism it can become a stressful experience, with too much noise and bustle.

Now, one mother from Sussex has developed a special autism-friendly grotto, and the idea is being rolled out nationwide.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to Jo-Ann D'Costa-Manuel of Autism Parent Empower, Mark Haynes of County Mall Crawley, and Sharon Watt from Desmond Anderson Primary School.

Autism story transformed for the big screen

A man who's spent his life campaigning for autism awareness is having his story of growing up with the condition transformed for the big screen.

The short film follows Kevin Healey's struggles with bullying, his obsessions, and his family's battle to get a diagnosis.

People from across the UK, many with difficulties and disabilities of their own, have auditioned for a part. Charlotte Cross went to meet them.

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New play explores the highs and lows of living with autism

This week is Autism Awareness Week, and a young playwright from Sussex has drawn on the experiences of his own family to explore the condition.

Tom Page, who's 19 and from Eastbourne, has an older brother Ben who's autistic.

Now, the teenager has written a powerful drama which will be performed at this year's Brighton Fringe.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to Tom, and to Tim Marriott, Director of Drama at Eastbourne College.

Teenager found dead in bath after epileptic fit at care home: inquest highlights 'serious failings'

He was a vulnerable teenager relying on the NHS to keep him safe. But today an inquest found 'neglect and serious failings' at an Oxfordshire care home contributed to the death of Connor Sparrowhawk. Juliette Fletcher reports.

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Plea from father of autistic girl

A father from Kent says his wife killed herself after the strain of looking after their autistic daughter became too much when they didn't get the help they wanted from social services.

Daniel Barnett's wife Carol had a history of depression and alcohol problems but, he says, the authorities should have done more for their daughter.

He wants Kent County Council to send her to a specialist residential school to help her develop - the council says she's better off at home. David Johns has the story.

Dogs are trained to help autistic children

We've heard how dogs can help the blind, disabled and hard of hearing.

But now some pioneering schemes are being launched around the country that specially train animals to support autistic children.

The dogs have a calming and soothing effect - and can help relieve the stress and stimuli that can overwhelm boys and girls with the condition.

One family have been explaining the remarkable improvements they've seen since their trusty companion arrived. Christine Alsford talked to mum Katie Fenton and Andy Clarke, founder of Woofability.

Autistic teenager is attacked on family holiday

A mother from Surrey has started an online campaign to find out who attacked her autistic son on a family holiday.

Thomas Attwater, who's 18, suffered multiple cuts and bruises to his face when he was punched at a holiday camp on the South Coast.

Police now want to speak to two teenage girls from the Reading area who may have witnessed the attack. Ria Chatterjee has our report.

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