Cambridge: Countess of Wessex Opens New Autism Centre

5 September 2013, 13:00 | Updated: 5 September 2013, 13:27

The Countess of Wessex has officially opened Cambridge's new autism centre today, unveiling the plaque in front of staff, guests and the media.

She arrived at the new Chitra Sethia Autism Centre, which is based at Fulbourn Hospital, by helicopter. The Countess had a tour before meeting and greeting guests and unveiling the official plaque.

The centre has been designed to offer support and opportunities for local people who have autism, including family support sessions, group meetings and activities.

It will be the new home of CPFT’s Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service (CLASS) clinic. The clinic has been providing specialist diagnostic assessments for adults who may have Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism for over 10 years. The site received a grant from the N Sethia Foundation to redevelop the building that was already there.

Ben Stevens has autism. He told Heart: "A centre like this, aside from it's obvious clinical function, serves as a symbol that autism is being taken seriously and not swept under the carpet.

"To have a building that's been designed with autism in mind is a great peace of mind."

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen is the director of the centre, as well a professor at Cambridge University. He said: "A lot of people get their diagnosis in childhood which is the time that you should get it, but a centre like this is providing a diagnosis for those who missed out early on in life.

"We're pointing them to the right kinds of support because ultimately the value of a diagnosis is being able to improve the quality of your life."