Worth the wait for new autism centre

Opening of new the autism outreach centre in Kirkcaldy from left: Kellie Calvert , Scottish Autism manager; Mathew Gunn, client; Kirsty Graham, Scottish Autism manager; Billy Scobie, and Yvonne and Kris Baillie, all people using the service.
Opening of new the autism outreach centre in Kirkcaldy from left: Kellie Calvert , Scottish Autism manager; Mathew Gunn, client; Kirsty Graham, Scottish Autism manager; Billy Scobie, and Yvonne and Kris Baillie, all people using the service.

A NEW facility to help adults with autism and their families has opened in Kirkcaldy.

The long-awaited base was first suggested by parents of service users who felt the quality of the outreach service could be improved by providing a building for both staff and clients, centrally located in Kirkcaldy.

The new building in Townsend Place, close to both the railway and bus stations, offers a spacious base, with kitchen, dining room, IT facilities, meeting and staff training room, social area and other multipurpose areas.

It is hoped that families will use the centre for activities throughout the day in keeping with special support plans they have drawn up for them, and a variety of activities including food preparation and menu planning, budgeting, art work, music therapy, IT access, and key worker meetings and planning will take place.

The building benefits from a great deal of natural light and a large rear garden which will also be available for use by visitors in the better weather.

It is hoped the garden area can be developed over time as a project for the community. A large meeting room is available which can be used for staff, clients, families and professionals.

It is also hoped that links will be built up with other local groups and professionals who will be able to use the building when it is available.

Physical base

Debbie Lauder, senior autism practitioner, explained: “Scottish Autism has been providing services to people in and around Kirkcaldy on an outreach basis for six years now, but it was felt that the service could be enhanced by the provision of a physical base where they could go to for information and advice as well as services.

“Until now our services have been provided in the community and at educational establishments as well as within their own homes, but this building will enable us to do much more and will allow more social interaction which is something that people with autism tend not be be involved in and which could really benefit them.”

At present there are 11 people using the service in Kirkcaldy, and it is hoped that they and their families will all use the centre on a regular basis.

“The idea is to have a place where users can be more involved in the service and can tell us what kind of services they would like to see provided that we don’t already.

“This could include things like art therapy groups, computing courses and social groups, as well as providing them with a safe environment where they can communicate openly.”

Gillian Wilson, services manager, added: “We had been looking for suitable premises in the centre of Kirkcaldy for about two years before this became available.

“It is ideal because it is close to all the local amenities, including the college and library.

Type of services

“At the moment we are settling in, letting people know we are here and discussing with clients what type of services they would like to have.

“We have created an arts and crafts area and an area has been set aside as a chill out space with computer games where they can just relax. It could also be used for one-to-one meetings.

“There is also a social group meeting on the last Thursday of each month for people with high functioning autism or Aspergers.”

Gillian explained that all activities would be by appointment as staff were not always available when doing outreach work, but there were plans to have a drop-in session in the future.

“We are delighted to have these new premises which will enable us to offer a lot more services than we could before.”