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This year, Autism at Kingwood celebrates 25 years of delivering person­centred support to autistic people throughout Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire. The organisation has seen a lot of changes since the charity was founded by Dame Stephanie Shirley in 1994, to support her son Giles. Over this time highly specialist services have been developed, they include supported living, transition, outreach, and autism diagnosis and post diagnostic services. What sets Autism at Kingwood apart is their unerring commitment to support those with more complex needs ­ they have much to celebrate as they continue to provide their vital support to real lives.
 Celebrating... 25 years Embracing Autism
 Dame Stephanie Shirley (or Steve as she prefers to be known) and her husband took back control of her autistic son’s life...removing him from hospital back into the community...
When Dame Stephanie Shirley (or Steve as she prefers to be known) and her husband took back control of her autistic son’s life and removed him from a hospital ward back into the community, she wasn’t thinking about the future of a charity; she was thinking about what was best for her son.
2019 sees Autism at Kingwood celebrating its 25th anniversary year after that monumentally brave and decisive decision by parents looking for the right support for their son.
Despite many changes over the last 25 years since, including a slight name change from The Kingwood Trust to Autism at Kingwood, some of the underlying reasons for Kingwood’s existence remain. Sometimes Kingwood still needs to be brave, bold and decisive. Always Kingwood needs to be caring, compassionate and kind.
Giles Shirley, Steve’s only child, was a beautiful baby who seemed contented and happy, at first. However, his progress was delayed and he was late in walking, talking and at just 21⁄2 he lost the little speech he had and never spoke again. He was diagnosed autistic.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder, it cannot be (some people wouldn’t want it to be) cured and scientists still don’t know exactly what causes it. There are some genetic links proven, but it
she was thinking what was best for him...a monumentally brave decision at the time
 is more than that and so the studies go on. Sometimes, but not always, autism has co­morbid conditions such as a learning disability, epilepsy and/or mental health condition. Autistic people see and hear the world differently. Autistic children may not intuitively learn those social cues that other non­autistic children naturally pick up; such as facial expressions and behaviours. Whilst each autistic person is affected differently there can be some commonalities: difficulty with interaction and social communication; a need for predictability and routine; sensory processing sensitivities and very focused
(sometimes obsessional) personal interests. Statistics vary but it is accepted that autism affects more than 1 in 100 people and although traditionally it is widely recognised as affecting more males then females, it is becoming increasingly clear as we get better at recognising how autism can affect men and women differently, that more women are being diagnosed.
Many autistic people have said they would not want to ‘not be autistic’. That there are strengths and benefits that outweigh the difficulties they experience from living in

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