Why do we need the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge?
More than 1% of the population is autistic but most autistic people have difficulty accessing high quality support when they want or need it. Autistic people experience difficulties in social interaction and communication. They often struggle to adjust to unexpected change, and many also have sensory hypersensitivity and co-occurring medical and psychological conditions. We believe that autistic people have a right to effective support and treatment.
Other difficulties stem from living in a world that is set up for non-autistic people. For example, there is a lack of awareness and acceptance of autism, continuing stigma and a lack of reasonable adaptations that could be made relatively easily. Without these adjustments, autistic people are often excluded from areas of society that others take for granted, such as educational settings and places of leisure and work. The Autism Centre of Excellence wants the world to become more accepting of autistic people and to take concrete steps to be more inclusive, such as in employment, education, healthcare, and criminal justice. .
The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge will change lives by increasing access to high-quality, timely support. Many autistic people live independent and happy lives, but for others a lack of help can lead to devastating consequences such as poor mental and physical health, social isolation, reduced life expectancy and even suicide.
The average wait for an autism diagnosis is 2 years, which delays access to vital support.
8 in 10 autistic adults are unemployed, often due to stigma and lack of support at work.
Autistic people die, on average, 16 years younger than others, for preventable reasons.
What do we do?
The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge has been established as a science-led campaigning charity working closely with Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre. Our aim is to remove barriers stigma for autistic people. We commission breakthrough science, campaigns and partnerships to scale interventions, tools and adaptations to:
- Improve inclusion, acceptance, respect, and human rights of autistic people.
- Improve support for autistic people in education, employment, health, wellbeing, and criminal justice.
- Reduce avoidable deaths caused by suicide, epilepsy or other health conditions.
- Reduce avoidable hardship in life caused by inequality, exclusion, isolation or maltreatment.
How we do it
We work with autistic people, parents/carers and partner organisations to identify helpful approaches and ensure that they are adequately evaluated. This includes commissioning world-class academic research at the University of Cambridge and its international collaborators. Increasing the amount of evidence-based support that is available will be of great benefit to autistic people and their families.
But that isn’t enough. We know that these approaches can only change lives if they are widely available. The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge will therefore also partner with organisations around the world with the ability to roll out new approaches at a large scale. We believe that high quality support should be available to all, and not be out of reach due to costs. We will always consider funding requirements and possibilities for support to be offered in existing pathways, such as within statutory health and social care provision.
How was the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge conceived?
The charity was created following Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen’s 2017 speech at the United Nations. In the speech, he explained that many autistic people are still denied basic human rights – such as the right to health, education, employment, equal access to public services, dignity, leisure, and the protection of the law.
Watch the full speech on this page or via YouTube.
Professor Baron-Cohen wanted to address this inequity. He brought together a team committed to changing the unacceptable status quo to create the Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) from the Autism Research Trust, a charity that existed at that time to fund world-class autism research. The Autism Centre of Excellence was conceived to do much more than fund research; it aims to revolutionise how support is provided, and to improve the lives of autistic people around the world.
Together, we can create a world where autistic people are respected and valued.
Help us bring evidence-based approaches to autistic people and their families – and change lives!
The Autism Centre of Excellence at Cambridge (ACE) is a science-led campaigning charity working closely with Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre. Our aim is to improve access to high quality support and remove barriers and stigma for autistic people.
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