World Autism Day

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) with the goal of bringing the world’s attention to autism, a disorder that affects tens of millions globally.

ASD is a lifelong developmental disorder that impacts on the way an individual communicates with and relates to other people. A diagnosis of ASD can help explain the difficulties the individual experiences. As those with ASD do not have specific physical characteristics ASD has been called a hidden disability, and this can contribute to others not fully understanding the difficulties an individual with ASD may experience.

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust launched the Northern Adult Autism Advice Service in January of this year. The pilot service, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is available to people aged 16 and over with a diagnosis of autism and will work in partnership with them and their families.

The pilot service is designed to provide individuals living in the Northern Trust Area with better information and help in accessing support and services across agencies.

The Service is available from 1.30pm – 4.30pm each Tuesday in Braid Museum and Arts Centre, Bridge Street, Ballymena. It will involve one to one advice sessions and signposting to services across a range of agencies. The service will also support individuals to develop a range of natural supports, including group support to help people cope with a diagnosis and self-advocacy to assist them towards independence and social inclusion.

The Service is person-centred with a multi-agency team on hand to provide advice and support on key aspects of daily life. Each session will be attended by staff form the Northern Trust, National Autistic Society, the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) and the Northern Regional Colleges. An Outreach Officer from Social Security Agency and a volunteer from Citizens Advice Service will also attend to assist anyone in relation to benefits available to them.

2nd April 2014

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