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‘First of its kind’ autism centre opens in Belfast

The National Autistic Society Northern Ireland (NASNI) has opened a first of its kind autism centre in Belfast. 

A spokesman for NASNI said the centre has been purpose-built for autistic adults and their families and will be a safe, welcoming place for people who need high levels of support from across Northern Ireland.

The spokesman said the centre’s multi-sensory rooms will provide social opportunities, relaxation and sensory stimulants, while its fitted kitchen will allow visitors to practice life skills with an aim to becoming more independent. Each individual will also have access to onsite behaviour support, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy, which will be delivered through tailor-made programmes.

Autism affects how someone communicates and interacts with the world, for some that may mean they need a bit of extra help but those with complex needs may require more support in a specialist environment.

The centre was opened this week on Tuesday (November 19), by TV star, mum to autistic twins and ambassador for the National Autistic Society, Christine McGuiness. She 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.’

Shirelle Stewart, Director of the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland, said she is looking forward to seeing the project in action. She 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.’

Photo Credit – National Autistic Society

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