autismwessexMore than 150 people celebrated the official opening of the Chitra Sethia Autism Centre by HRH The Countess of Wessex last week [September 5].

The Countess unveiled a plaque and was given a tour of the centre in Cambridge, which is home to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust's Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service (CPFT CLASS) which is one of the country's leading sources of specialist diagnostic assessments for adults with Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism.

The Autism Centre, based at the Fulbourn Hospital, is also an opportunity to develop support and opportunities for local people who have autism, including family support sessions, group meetings and activities.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of CPFT’s CLASS, said: "This is a very exciting development. The new centre will provide a vital resource for adults with an autism spectrum condition and their families.

"By being closely linked to autism research it will also provide evidence-based standards of excellence in clinical practice."

Critical milestone in accessing support
The redevelopment of the centre was supported by the Autism Research Trust and a grant from the N Sethia Foundation to the National Autistic Society (NAS).

Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said: "Autism is a hidden condition and getting a diagnosis can be a critical milestone in enabling people to access the support they need. However, in our experience, adults wait far too long for a diagnosis, with 34% telling us in a recent survey that they’ve waited three years or more after first raising concerns.

"This new diagnostic centre will provide essential support to adults with autism and their families, and the services on offer will ensure that people with the disability achieve their ambitions and flourish."