Struggles and stresses of autism highlighted

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Image: Gary Cooper, chief executive, Middletown Centre for Autism, left, with Dr Temple Grandin and Gerry Maguire, Managing Director, Linden Foods, conference sponsor

Autism expert, Dr Temple Grandin, addressed over 600 delegates at a major “Building Capacity” conference in Titanic Belfast recently.

The two-day event, which was organised by Middletown Centre for Autism to mark its 10th anniversary,offered practical advice and guidance to people and families directly affected by autism and invaluable insight for education professionals.

According to a recent report by Department of Health, the estimated prevalence of autism within the school-aged population has increased from 1.2% in 2008/2009 to 2.3% in 2015/16.  This equates to some 7,200 children in Northern Ireland identified as having autism in 2015/16. In the Republic of Ireland there were 8,739 students with autism included in mainstream classes at primary and post-primary levels within the 2014-15 school year.

The demand for tickets to the conference was high, with five people applying for every space available – a sign of the urgent need for further support and funding within the field, according to Gary Cooper, Chief Executive, Middletown Centre for Autism.

Mr Cooper said. “It is estimated that one in 100 children are affected by autism. Middletown Centre for Autism provides training, intervention, advice and support to families and schools across Northern Ireland and Ireland.  For the person with autism, or the parent of a child with autism, the struggles and stresses of daily life can be immense.”

For further information on the work of Middletown Centre for Autism, and courses/resources available visit www.middletownautism.com

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