National Autistic Society warns of “terrible loss” if Haringey centre closes

Proposals to close down an adult autism service in Haringey would cause “huge anxiety and distress,” according to the National Autistic Society

As part of million-pound budget cuts, Haringey council is expected to decide next month whether to close three day centres for adults with disabilities, including the Roundway centre.

There are proposals to close Birkbeck Road, Always Day and Roundway centres and to outsource adult social care contracts.

In response, the National Autistic Society (NAS) has carried out a survey of Roundway users and says that closing the centre would place an “unacceptably high risk” on the health of autistic adults.

Family members who responded to the survey said that closing the centre would affect their child “very badly” and that it would be a “terrible loss.”

Some pointed out that the centre provided their child with their only friends outside their close family centre, with one autistic adult knowing other users by name.

One anonymous carer wrote in about a male service user and said: “service understands individual needs, encouraging him to get involved in activities. Doesn’t like change and takes long time to get used to new people and be mentally stable - closing would be absolutely devastating, cause him depression and anxiety.”

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Roundway currently supports 27 adults with autism, learning disabilities and complex needs, including conditions which can impact on their mental and physical health.

In a strongly-worded letter accompanying the survey, Mark Lever, chief executive of the society, said that the Roundway is an “autism day centre of high quality, which has enabled those attending it to achieve fantastic outcomes - an achievement often out of reach and extremely difficult for people with autism, learning disabilities, complex needs and challenging behaviour.”

He said that while the society is “fully aware of the budgetary constraints and pressures currently faced by local authorities… we remain extremely concerned about the proposed closure.”

The society argues that closing the centre would badly impact on Haringey’s ability to “access their local community in a safe and appropriate way” and fulfil their statutory obligations.

It urges local politicians to take on board the “strong” views of parents and carers, and not to close the centre.

A Haringey Council Spokesman said: “All responses to our adult social care consultation will be considered and reflected upon as part of a consultation report which will be published next month.”