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Autism Social Café


Vi Gray, Care Opinion; Lisa Storey, Child Development Interventions Coordinator; Bronach McMonagle, Involvement Manager; Priscilla Magee and Paul Sweeney, Locality Planning Co-Ordinators.

We recently held our 4th Autism Social Café on Friday 27 January 2023 at Hillcrest Trust. This event was delivered in partnership with local statutory services and community and voluntary organisations. We invited parents and carers of children of all ages, who have:

  • an autism diagnosis
  • are awaiting an assessment
  • are displaying early indicators ( suggesting their child may be Neurodiverse),

We had 24 information stalls, 46 organisations attend and 96 parents and carers.

We would like to extend our thanks to the team at Hillcrest Trust for hosting the social café as well the different services and organisations who facilitated informal workshops.

“This was an opportunity for parents and carers to meet and learn what programmes and services are available to them. Meeting others who are also raising neurodiverse children can create a network of support. The Journey for parents and carers doesn’t begin or end with a diagnosis. The journey starts long before and continues long after. It can be overwhelming, emotionally and physically tiring and at times lonely. We hope the autism social cafés help even in a small way for families.”

~ Lisa Storey
Child Development Interventions Coordinator, Health Improvement Equality Involvement Department

“Speaking at the social café as an autistic adult who is raising an autistic child, helped show foresight and understanding, thank you for inviting me. More autistic voices being heard is critical. A quote coined from disability rights movement which sits well here is ‘nothing about us, without us’. We are all learning everyday as parents and professionals. It is vital that services and professionals continue to work together for the benefit of the individuals.”

~ Sarah McGill
Autistically Support

“It’s great to see initiatives like the autism social cafés throughout the western trust. The café was a great starter point to find what services and organisations especially groups is available to support us as a family. I hope it’s continued into our hospitals to raise more awareness for autism/learning disabilities so it’s easier for people using services.”

~ Dawn Colhoun

Our next Autism Social Cafes will be Friday 24 February in Melvin Sports Centre, Strabane, and Friday 24 March in Roe Valley Leisure Centre, Limavady. Both 10.00am – 12noon.

For further information or to share your feedback and ideas please email: