Northern Ireland news

Autism centre for kids and adults opens in Carryduff

TV star Christine McGuinness opens the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland's new Autism Centre in Carryduff
Marie Louise McConville

A "first of its kind" autism centre has been officially opened just outside Belfast.

The facility in Carryduff will provide support and activities for autistic adults and children and their families across the spectrum.

TV star and autism campaigner Christine McGuinness, whose twins Penelope and Leo are autistic, travelled to Northern Ireland yesterday for the opening, which has been made possible with the help of donors who raised £200,000.

She said it was an honour to open the "absolutely incredible" centre, offering "help and support to so many that need it".

"Thank you for having me and for everything you do."

At the core of the centre is autism-specific day provision for adults with complex needs.

With colourful multi-sensory rooms and a kitchen to practise life skills, it will be a relaxed environment to learn and become more independent.

Through tailor-made programmes, individuals will also have access to on-site behaviour support, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.

There are around 18,000 people in Northern Ireland with autism, which 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.

The National Autistic Society Northern Ireland’s new Autism Centre at Eastbank Road will benefit those in and around Belfast, aiming to provide adults with complex needs with a safe and welcoming place to learn, where they can socialise and fulfil their potential.

It also hopes to attract more funding to run activities during evenings and weekends for autistic children and their families.

Shirelle Stewart, director of the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland, said the centre was 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," she said.

"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"

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