NI opens new premises for The National Autistic Society NI

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey today officially opened the new premises for the National Autistic Society (NAS) Northern Ireland and launched their Family Support Programmes 2010-2011.

The new premises offer an accessible, safe and secure environment allowing families, parents and carers of young people with autism to meet. The service also provides facilities for training programmes.

Mr McGimpsey said: “Improving services for those with a learning disability has been one of my top priorities since I became Minister for Health and continues to be so. It is crucial that early identification, intervention and diagnosis processes are developed as is ongoing collaboration with other agencies and voluntary bodies in planning services.

“It is my pleasure today to officially open these new premises for the National Autism Society here in Northern Ireland. I also welcome the opportunity to meet with some of the parents and carers who are able to use the centre and receive advice and support as necessary.”

The Minister also formally launched the society’s Family Support Programmes for 2010-2011. These are a series of workshops which will provide practical advice to parents on a wide range of subjects from benefit entitlements and education through to general autism awareness.

The Minister continued: “It is important for individuals, parents and carers of people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder to know where to go for appropriate help and support when they have concerns and it is also important to ensure that those individuals, parents and their carers are meaningfully involved in the planning of services.”

NAS (NI) Co-Director Shirelle Stewart said: “We are delighted that the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety has come along today to open our new premises and launch the extension of our Family Support Programme. These programmes help provide essential support, advice and advocacy for people with autism and their families.”