6 years ago I thought that one day in Stoke On Trent that we would have a centre of excellence, a Autism centre consisting of diagnosing children and adults, a autism clinic, therapy centre, dentist, adult independent life skills centre, that would support the many thousands of people living in staffordshire affected with Autism.
I am the founder of the first Autism charity in Stoke on trent the NSAAA, (North Staffordshire Asperger Autism Association), I founded this charity simply because i did not want any other person to go through the sheer HELL i went through, ie professionals not listening to me, when i knew that i was on the spectrum, after i got Diagnosed by one of the worlds renowned experts in Autism Professor Simon Barhoen Choen, when i got back home from Cambridge i felt very isolated and alone simply because i did not know of anyone else who was just like me.
So i started to end the children’s child development centre at the city General Hospital, once a month where parents would meet and discuss various topics of Autism one of them been isolated and no where to turn to, after many month of attending these sessions i kept coming away from them feeling very depressed because everything was so negative from the sessions.
I then met up with a member of staff from the Newcastle under lyme Voluntary sector Noshin Flyn and i explained to her how isolated i felt, she said why don’t i set something up with like minded people who had a interest in Autism, so in October 2000, i set up my first public meeting at the child development unit it was very scary, i invited the National Autistic Society and Social services and the local health Authority, the meeting was very well attended with over 100 people in attendance the meeting just showed how important Autism services were needed in this area.
October 2001 saw the inception of the NSAAA this was a very exciting time a new Autism Charity to support adults and children on the spectrum, we decided to have a drop in centre, and a social group, and a Autism library, the office was run by volunteers people with an Autistic spectrum and also parents of children with Autism the committee was made up of the same type of people
I applied with for my first grant to get funding for an office, and when the news came through the post that we had received a large grant from the Give it sum fund, i just burst into tears because i knew that this was so needed in the community for people with ASD.
After a few years, Jan Williams (Robbie Williams mum) came to see me in the office, she was very impressed with the volunteers and the work of the NSAAA, i mentioned to her that I would like to have a centre of excellence, she was very interested, and we decided to meet up regularly to discuss future plans of the Autism centre, Jan that arranged a funding committee to help raise the 5 million.
October 2004 the Big launch night of the 5 million pound appeal, The local media BBC Radio stoke, the sentinel, cross rhythms radio, a film crew and over 400 guests were present at Gatsby’s bar in Newcastle, Jan and Johnathan Wilkes went on stage to say how important this centre was and how needed it was in this area, also the Number one darts player Phil Taylor came along to show is support, the night was a real success a start to something BIG.
Me and Jan then met up with Bill Bratt from port Vale football club, we had planners come up from London to draw up plans of the centre and everything was going so smoothly until…… some of the trustees did not want the NSAAA to carry on with the campaign because they thought that building a centre on a football ground would not be practical and children, would not cope with the noise on a match day etc (maybe so but all these celebrates including Anthea Turner, knew that this centre would be achievable within a few years.
Sadly i resigned from the NSAAA in 2005 due to various reasons, one was because of the centre not going ahead because certain people did not want it there also, because some people thought that Kevin should not be Chairman, maybe because he is autistic and he is not the right person to be a chairman.
The sad fact remains the vision of this unique centre has now been lost for good all the dreams and work that was involved by everyone is now just a distant memory.
if i won the lottery that’s the first thing i would have an Autism centre? WHY because its so needed and still is but because of a few minority it never happened….