MID and East Antrim Borough Council have adopted the ‘impact award framework’ from Autism NI, improving training and accessibility throughout Council facilities to support those in the autism community.
A motion was brought forward at a council meeting by Councillor Cheryl Johnston and seconded by Councillor Julie Frew.
Councillor Johnston said: “Autism is currently the fastest growing disability in Europe with a 69% increase in diagnosis rates in Northern Ireland, there is no better time to show our support for the autism community.
“It is a necessity that we act now to cater for everyone, and promote best practice and social inclusion as a council.
“Children on the Autism spectrum often share certain difficulties, such as struggling to understand unwritten social rules and managing change, but it affects each individual differently, presenting a varying degree of conditions that must be understood and recognised.”
Councillor Johnston went on to explain about Northern Ireland’s largest autism charity, Autism NI, had developed the Impact Awards to help organisations create a more ‘autism friendly environment’.
Through attaining an Impact Award, the Council can confidently cater for over 30,000 autistic individuals and their families in Northern Ireland.
It will equip the Council to better understand and enhance the environment of any staff and visitors and their families with autism.
Councillor Johnston added: “As a Council must be to ensure that every person with autism feels welcome and comfortable accessing the range of services and facilities offered.”
Councillor Julie Frew, who seconded the motion, said: “This motion and subsequent action will help Council create an even more Autism friendly environment for residents and visitors.
“It will bring confidence for residents but also to Council and Council staff with quality assured training that embeds the processes of accessibility, this surely should be at the forefront of everything we do.
“It will be a high and valuable asset for our involvement in Arts, culture and leisure providing a strong and confident service to all residents irrespective of disabilities.”