The National Autistic Society Northern Ireland’s new Autism Centre was opened this week on Tuesday 19 November, by TV star and mum to autistic twins Christine McGuiness. The first of its kind in Northern Ireland, the centre has been purpose-built for autistic people and their families. At its core is day provision for autistic adults who need high levels of support, from across Northern Ireland.
There are around 18,000 autistic people in Northern Ireland and every autistic person has their own strengths and challenges. Autism affects how someone communicates and interacts with the world. For some that may mean they need just a bit of extra help and for autistic people with complex needs they may need more support in a specialist environment, like the centre, so they can thrive.
With colourful multi-sensory rooms and a fitted kitchen to practice life skills, the centre will be a relaxed environment in which autistic adults will be able to learn and become more independent. Through tailor-made programmes during day provision, each individual will also have access to onsite behaviour support, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.
There are not enough services for autistic adults who require high levels of support in Northern Ireland. The opening of the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland’s Autism Centre will benefit those in and around Belfast, providing autistic adults with complex needs a safe and welcoming place to learn, socialise and fulfil their potential. The centre hopes to attract more funding so they can run activities during evenings and weekends for autistic children and their families.
The National Autistic Society Northern Ireland’s Autism Centre has been developed to encourage social opportunities, relaxation, sensory stimulants and lifelong skills among other positive key principles, for its autistic visitors.
Shirelle Stewart, Director of the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland, said:
“We were thrilled to have Christine McGuiness open our new Autism Centre, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. The centre has been designed with the interests and needs of autistic people at its heart.
“It will be modern, welcoming, and use technology that has been specifically designed to support autistic people.
“Having such state of the art provision would not have been possible without the support of our donors. Thank you to everyone who helped us to raise an incredible £200,000 to provide the specialist equipment and create such a high-quality environment.
“We are looking forward to seeing the project in action. You can find out more about the services the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland provides at autism.org.uk.”
Christine McGuinness Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, said:
“I was honoured to open the amazing National Autistic Society’s Northern Ireland Centre in Belfast.
“There are around 18,000 autistic people in Northern Ireland and not enough services to support the needs of autistic adults with complex needs.
“The National Autistic Society’s new centre will provide a safe and welcoming place where autistic adults can learn new life skills and build their confidence and independence.
“I was so impressed by the planning and thought that’s gone into designing and building this vital resource and the passion of the staff is phenomenal. The centre will be a lifeline for autistic people and their families across Northern Ireland and a place for autistic adults to reach their full potential.”