20th birthday celebrations for Aylesbury Vale autism charity

Families, staff, trustees and supporters gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Buckingham-based charity Autism Early Support.

By Hannah Richardson
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 10:50 am

The charity, which runs a specialist pre-school nursery in Middle Claydon, worked tirelessly during the Covid pandemic to support autistic children

Chief executive Sarah Sweet-Rowley said: “Children with special educational needs were particularly vulnerable during the pandemic, with schools closed and cutbacks on additional support services.

"So to be celebrating our 20th anniversary and to know we have been here, not just throughout the pandemic but also before and for years to come, is something we are enormously proud of. ”

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Cutting the cake at Autism Early Support's 20th birthday party

Autism Early Support, known as the Puzzle Centre until its rebranding in 2019, was founded two decades ago by Winslow woman Alex Stanyer, who was awarded in MBE in 2019 for her services to young autistic children.

Alex said: “I have learned so much from the children here and their families. It’s been, and continues to be, an absolute joy.”

Chair of trustees Graham Wylie said: “Funding is never easy, so the fact we are still here, making such a positive difference to lives, and are in a stable position, is exceptional.

"Now, it’s time to improve our nursery environment – whether we stay here and invest, or find a new building we can expand into.”

Families, staff and trustees gather round a birthday bench, donated by Alexandra Verney and her family, from the Claydon Estate

Alex Rowe, whose autistic son Elliot attended the charity’s pre-school nursery, is also a trustee.

He said: “Elliot’s progress was literally life changing. Above all it was his social skills that really blossomed.

"At the start, he could not be in a room with any noise and we were planning to home school. When he left Autism Early Support, he was school ready.

“I wanted to thank the organisation that had made such a profound impact on our lives and, as a trustee, I am impressed every day by the professionals here, who are right at the forefront of best practice.”

In its 20th year, Autism Early Support has been commissioned by Bucks Council to deliver a programme of support for families with children who are awaiting an assessment for ADHD or ASD.

Autism Early Support has launched a regular giving campaign, to help ensure long-term sustainable income for its work. Find out more here.