New diagnosis and support centre for Autism Unlimited

The Chris Page Centre was officially opened by the internationally-acclaimed opera singer and Autism Unlimited Patron Sophia Grech.
The Chris Page Centre was officially opened by the internationally-acclaimed opera singer and Autism Unlimited Patron Sophia Grech.

Leading autism charity Autism Unlimited has officially unveiled its new expert-led assessment and diagnosis centre in Dorset, paving the way for faster, expert autism diagnosis for potentially hundreds of adults each year.
 
Clinical research shows that early autism diagnosis, intervention, education, and support can literally transform lives, by giving autistic people clarity and opening clear pathways to treatment, support and wellbeing.
 
However, with NHS diagnosis waiting times at around three years, many people are currently forced to endure long periods of isolation and struggle due to their social, educational and behavioural difficulties.
 
Autism Unlimited has led the way in supporting autistic people to learn and live to their full potential for over 50 years.
 
Through the Chris Page Centre, which is based on the same site as the charity’s specialist Portfield School in Parley, Christchurch, it will enable people from across the country to effectively bypass NHS referral times for their autism pre-assessment and diagnosis.
 
Staffed by an expert team of assessors, the centre can also provide adults, children and families with much needed post-diagnosis support via its Community Connect service, which gives links and introductions to other organisations such as local autism support groups, as well as access to Autism Unlimited’s own extensive information library.
 
Siún Cranny, CEO of Autism Unlimited, intends to grow the centre into a leading source of diagnosis and support for the whole autism community, including children.
 
She said: “We are immensely proud to open The Chris Page Centre and I am extremely grateful to the whole team which has worked so tirelessly to make this centre a reality.
 
“This will quite simply have a monumental impact on so many lives.
 
“Once diagnosed, many autistic people not only understand themselves better, they realise they are not alone in the way they feel.
 
“They can set their own goals and be confident in knowing that they have the coping techniques and systems to achieve them. Their loved ones and professionals working with them can also learn how best to support them.”
 
She continued: “Autism Unlimited continues to stand alongside autistic people on their journey, providing education, support and pushing for their voices to be heard.
 
“We would now like to hear from more specialists who can bring their expertise to the centre and also members of the public and businesses, keen to offer fundraising and sponsorship support, so we can all play a part in developing and funding this centre to its fullest potential.”
 
The official opening of the Chris Page Centre (CPC) was conducted by the internationally-acclaimed opera singer and Autism Unlimited Patron Sophia Grech, who herself was diagnosed with autism at the age of 45.
 
Sophia said: “Diagnosis provided so many missing pieces of my jigsaw, helping me to understand who I am and giving me the clarity I always sought.
 
“Since my diagnosis so much has changed, both in my daily life and career. Positive changes which have greatly enhanced my life and the way I feel.”
 
The CPC has been made possible by a legacy from the estate of the late Chris Page. Chris’s son Nicholas was a student at Portfield School and Chris later became a Trustee and driving force at the charity.

Angela Westwell, an executor of the Chris Page estate, said: “Chris was a quiet, extremely modest man with a passion for helping others. This centre is a very fitting legacy for him and his family and he would have been truly thrilled to see it open.”
 
Entertainment at the launch was provided by Autism Unlimited student and musician Leon Lunn, 15, and singer Nevaeh Dunmore, 12, from Horndean Technology College in Hampshire. Students from Autism Unlimited sixth form’s mobile barista unit The Brew Crew provided refreshments.
 
More information on referral to the Chris Page Centre is available from: https://www.autism-unlimited.org/support/diagnosis/
 
Autism professionals interested in working with the Chris Page Centre should email: Donna.wearn@autism-unlimited.org

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