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The National Autistic Society

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The National Autistic Society is a British charity for people affected by autism, founded and established in 1962 by a group of London-based parents.


Prior to the foundation of the charity, the first meeting took place at the home of Mrs. Edna O'Driscoll in north London. At the meeting, the decision was taken to form a charity to help support people affected by autism. It would be the first charity of its kind.

Initially called 'The Society for Psychotic Children', the group soon opted for the more palatable 'The Society for Autistic Children', because of the negative associations of the word 'psychotic' - "fortunately ... before we had gone very far or had any publicity on a national scale," recalls founding parent Helen Allison.

Association with Thomas the Tank Engine

It all started in 2001, as the television show gained its popularity with autistic children, especially as it was well known for the recognising of the facial expressions and colours of the engines. Since then, there were train walk events organised by the charity, along with specified merchandising from the charity including the key rings and zip pulls of Thomas characters.

On Sunday March 7th, 2010, at Hamley's store in Regent Street, London, The National Autistic Society celebrated the event to make the longest Thomas cake train for the 65th anniversary of the franchise, as well as Hamley's 250th anniversary. The charity had managed to raise £1,849.70, along with an additional 10% donation from Hamley's.

On Saturday September 27th, 2014, an autism-family friendly 3k train walk event called 'All Aboard for Autism' took place outside Drayton Manor. A year later, 'All Aboard for Autism' was organised once again outside Drayton Manor on Saturday September 26th, 2015 and raised over £22,000.


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