The Caudwell International Children’s Centre aims to transform the way millions affected by the condition can be helped.
The UK’s first independent purpose-built autism centre has opened, with the aim of dramatically reducing the waiting time for a diagnosis.
A first look at the Caudwell International Children’s Centre (CICC) in Staffordshire, is expected to transform the way the hundreds of thousands with the condition in the UK and their families can be helped.
The average waiting time to be assessed for autism is at least two years, and the childen who are eventually diagnosed wait on average for four years.
The £18m centre, set in the grounds of Keele University, will enable families to get a diagnosis within just six weeks.
An early autism diagnosis can be vital in helping families understand their child’s behaviour.
The development of the complex has been funded by a group of philanthropists, with £10m coming from the businessman John Caudwell.
The Caudwell International Centre will bring together assessment, diagnosis, family support and research into autism.
As well as reducing diagnosis time, its other main focuses are to enable families to receive assessment from a number of professionals in one place, and to provide world class support for those affected by the condition.
Mr Caudwell told Sky News: “Right from the beginning I thought what we’re going to do is, we’re going to iconically help the lives of children with autism.
“We’re going to set a new standard and hopefully prove that we can intervene in the condition, and make the challenges less for those parents who have got children with autism.”
The centre will offer ongoing support for families following an autism diagnosis through educational workshops and programmes.
Staff will also be working closely with clinical and academic partners from the international autism community to share insight and research.
Facilities include state-of-the art assessment suites, a sensory garden to help children interact with nature, and therapy suites for ongoing workshops for families.
Trudi Beswick, chief executive of the centre, said: “We have spent the last 19 years listening to families consistently telling us they do not get the support they need.
“It is their stories that are at the heart of this project and their needs have shaped the new service and the centre.
“When all evidence points to the long-term benefits of early intervention, the delays families face are not acceptable and Caudwell Centre aims to change the way families access support and prove there is a better way.”
Source: Sky News