TV’s Christine opens unique autism centre in Carryduff

TV’s Christine opens unique autism centre in Carryduff

27 November 2019

TV star Christine McGuinness opened a “first of its kind” autism centre in Carryduff last Tuesday.

Built by the National Autistic Society in Northern Ireland, the £200,000 centre at East Bank Road has been purpose-built for autistic people and their families, providing day provision for autistic adults who need high levels of support from across Northern Ireland.

The centre will benefit those in and around Belfast and beyond, providing autistic adults with complex needs a safe and welcoming place to learn, socialise and fulfil their potential. 

It has been developed to encourage social opportunities, relaxation, sensory stimulants and lifelong skills, among other positive key principles for its autistic visitors.

Christine, a mother of young children with autism and wife of Top Gear host Paddy McGuinness, is an ambassador for the National Autistic Society.

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.”

She added: “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: “We were thrilled to have Christine McGuinness open our new autism centre. 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.”

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.

The centre hopes to attract more funding so they can run activities during evenings and weekends for autistic children and their families.