Dame Stephanie Shirley founded the charity in 1994 to support her autistic son Giles, removing him from a psychiatric hospital and into a regular house, where he was supported by caring people who, for the first time in his life, enabled him to make his own choices about his life.
This core person-centred value holds true today and the charity provides support for over 130 people across the Thames Valley. Many people supported by Autism at Kingwood have complex needs with an additional learning disability and need 24 hour support in a supported living house. Other people need a certain number of ‘outreach’ hours of support each week, to help them live more independently and to provide practical help with shopping, appointments or to access their community, for example.
Additionally, Autism at Kingwood employs a Psychology & Practice Team, which provides one-to-one support to individuals - typically to those with high functioning autism who may have associated mental health issues. The charity also delivers the Oxfordshire Adult Autism Diagnosis Support Service on behalf of Oxford Health.
To help enhance the lives of those we support, the charity provides a range of meaningful and developmental activities, including social clubs, therapy with dogs and horticultural projects, as well as organised days out and much loved parties! Autism at Kingwood has an excellent reputation both regionally and in the autism sector for, as Dame Stephanie says: ‘providing creative solutions for complex situations and importantly, for persevering when other services have failed’. The charity is approached by local authorities or parents for help to support vulnerable adults who may otherwise be facing hospital admission. Autism at Kingwood is increasingly recognised as the charity that can support autistic people with highly challenging behaviours and the charity is committed to work with those who may be considered more challenging, more demanding, or have greater communication difficulties: those for whom traditional services don’t work.
This Christmas, we are fundraising to buy a holiday home to provide respite for those we support, made all the more vital as Covid-19 has heightened anxiety amongst many autistic people. Your support can help us reach our target.