For the first time, families of children and young people affected by autism will be able to browse and borrow valuable, cutting-edge information on the condition, unlikely to be stocked in a public library
The Pines Library, Inverness, today (Thursday) launched its innovative service, providing carers and health professionals with a carefully chosen selection of books, CDs and DVDs on aspects of autism and related conditions. The new venture is specifically designed to be welcoming and autism-friendly.
Autism is known as the ‘invisible disability’ because those with the condition can appear to be outwardly functioning well, while often experiencing severe challenges in communication and social situations. People with autism often have difficulty interpreting facial expressions, can be very literal in their understanding of questions and easily misinterpret others’ intentions. An estimated 50,000 Scots have autism, with nearly 600 thought to live in the city of Inverness.
The project, based at Drummond Road, Inverness, was developed in partnership with The Highland Council, NHS Highland, The National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland and CHIP+, an organisation working with children and young people with additional support needs ( CHIP+ provides a long standing library on a range of conditions, including autism , for carers and professionals in Highland. )
Author Nuala Gardner was the special guest at today’s launch of the new library service. Nuala’s son Dale, who has autism, was the inspiration of Nuala’s acclaimed memoir, ‘A Friend Like Henry’. Later filmed as ‘After Thomas’, the book tells the true story of Dale’s difficult childhood, and how a golden retriever called Henry helped him and his family understand and cope with his condition.
Nuala said: “I am delighted to be part of the opening of this important library. As a parent of two children who are at extreme opposite ends of the autistic spectrum, you’re constantly seeking to expand your knowledge of autism and learn about the experience of others in similar situations.
“The Pines Library will offer access to that knowledge and experience to many local families over the coming years. It’s a great new asset for the community and a fine example of what charities, councils and the NHS can achieve by working together. In an ideal world every city would have a resource like this. It would have made a world of difference to me – I would have felt a lot less isolated and lost. I’m especially delighted, as my little niece, aged 4, was diagnosed in Inverness, and I know how much it will help her.”
Dr Robert Moffat, national director of the National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland said: “NAS Scotland is delighted to be part of this ground-breaking project, which has the potential to impact positively on the lives of many thousands of local people. I would like to thank all the volunteers, fundraisers, donors and staff for the enthusiasm, expertise and dedication that has helped make The Pines Library possible.
“Many people affected by autism and their families struggle to access the right information and support at the right time. The majority of the 50,000 people with autism in Scotland are still not getting the help they need and most experience misunderstanding, social isolation, unemployment, worsening mental health, financial hardship and reduced life chances at some point in their lives. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Valuable support services like The Pines Library are an important step in giving people affected by autism and their families access to a better quality of life.”
Marlyn Campbell, Development Officer Disability, Additional Support Needs Team, The Pines, Inverness, said: “‘I am delighted that the collaborative efforts of staff at The Pines has had such a positive outcome as the new Library. This further extends the activities supported across Highland and delivered from The Pines for children, young people and families affected by autism and the professionals engaging with them.”
The Pines team has also welcomed support from High Life Highland in the early development stages, and specifically from Margot Henderson, Reader in Residence at Inverness Library. Margot led popular creative workshops in The Pines for parents, carers and young people on the autism spectrum. A selection of work from these sessions will be on display in the Pines Library until the end of August.
The new support service adds to a range of services for people with autism and their families already available at The Pines, within Integrated Children’s Services, including: Autism Education Outreach, Speech and Language Therapy, Children’s Disability Team, Nutrition and Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Clinical Psychology, The National Autistic Society Scotland, CHIP +, and Diagnostic Services.