Charity supports autistic children living in Greater Manchester

A report by Granada Reports Journalist Tasha Kacheri.

A new charity aimed at supporting children living with autism has been launched in Greater Manchester.

Spectrum Gaming was founded by Andy Smith, a 24-year-old from Bury who lives with the condition.

It is an online community where autistic children can play games, socialise, make friends, be proud of who they are, and have their voices heard. The group meet online and in person.

Throughout school, Andy struggled to cope with his diagnosis.

It all came to a head when he went to university and attempted to take his own life.

He decided to speak publicly about how he was feeling, which is how he came into contact with others living with autism - something he says completely changed his life.

Spectrum Gaming is an online community for autistic young people as a response to lockdown

This glimmer of hope helped Andy to turn his life around and he wanted to do the same for others:

  • In 2017, Andy set up 'Autistic Life', a Facebook page sharing educational content about autism which currently has over 30,000 followers.

  • In 2018, he created an emotional video about what life is like for autistic young people, and worked with Pathways Associates CIC to do the UK's biggest consultation on the priorities of young autistic people.

  • In 2019 he started working full-time at a local authority as the Inclusion Ambassador/ SEND Advocate, ensuring the views of SEND young people are heard strategically, in addition to becoming co-chair of the North-West SEND Young People's Coproduction Network.

  • And In 2020, he created Spectrum Gaming, an online community for autistic young people as a response to lockdown. They now have over 1,000 members and became a registered charity in March 2021.

The children who take part in Spectrum gaming say it's changed their lives, they are now making friends for the first time who understand them, they are growing in confidence and are having a lot of fun.