Innovative new centre for children and adults with autism opens in South Shields

A new centre for children and adults living with autism has opened in South Shields.

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 11th January 2020, 11:42 pm

Parents have welcomed The Autism Hub, which opened on Gordon Street on Friday, January 10, describing it as just what families in the borough need.

The centre, which is the first of its kind in the North East, will provide drop-in sessions for all ages, with no diagnosis or referral necessary.

The Toby Henderson Trust will provide support for children and young people from Monday-Wednesday while Autism in Mind will support adults on Thursdays and Fridays.

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Members of Autism In Mind and The Toby Henderson Trust at the official opening of The Autism Hub, Gordon Street, South Shields.

Local surveys have suggested that almost half of families didn’t achieve what they expected by getting a diagnosis.

The centre has been launched as a direct response to feedback from those with autism and their families who told chiefs there was a lack of support in the borough, which evidence shows can lead to crisis.

Rachael Branthwaite, whose eight-year-old son has autism, is the chair of parent and carer forum, Stronger Together.

“My son has very severe sensory issues and like a lot of families I found post-diagnosis there was just no support. Having a drop in place like this, which is always available is fantastic,” she said.

Mayor of South Tyneside Norman Dick unveils the plaque at The Autism Hub, Gordon Street, South Shields.

“For the children it can mean feeling like they are part of a community and for the parents it’s having somebody there who knows what you’re going through.

She added: “It’s very much going to be parent-led because nobody knows what our children need better than us because we live with it every day.”

Dr James Gordon, clinical director for mental health and learning disabilities at NHS South Tyneside CCG said: “Traditionally our NHS services have been focused on diagnosis and it can take a long time. The Autism Hub is about getting practical advice for problems that you face every day, from people with lived experience, and the feedback we get from families and young people is that that is the most valuable support they can get.”

Coun Tracey Dixon, responsible for wellbeing and independence, added: “With higher-than-average diagnosis rates of autism in South Tyneside we know this hub is going to be a huge support to our residents. It’s a fantastic asset to the community.”

Chair of the South Tyneside Parent and Carers Forum, Stronger Together, Rachael Branthwaite.