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Gibside School visit NHSBSA during World Autism Awareness Week

Children from Gibside School are visiting an NHS organisation in Newcastle this World Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April) to try out some technology activities and raise money for their charity.

Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

Michelle Quirk, whose son attends Gibside School, works for NHS Business Services Authority as a Business Analyst. She said: “If you were to hear Oliver chatting away now you wouldn’t guess that he stopped talking at 18 months old and didn’t start again until he was almost 4. He never shuts up. And I will never complain about his chattering or take it for granted because for a long time I worried it would never happen. Finding his voice has been a game changer. Life is so much easier for both of us now Oliver can express his needs and wants verbally.

“I hear from some Autistic adults that masking the outward signs of Autism in order to fit in is draining. I desperately hope that by the time Oliver reaches working age, attitudes towards Autism will have changed. That he can be accepted and valued for who he is without having to mask. That’s why World Autism Week is so important.”

The National Autism Society has found that 1 in 100 people are autistic and only 16% have a full time job. The charity’s ambassador Chris Packham CBE said: “With just a little more acceptance, understanding and a few simple adjustments, more autistic people would be able to enter the workforce and put their amazing talents to use.” Autistic people have valuable strengths including creative thinking, a considered and reflective approach and an intense focus and attention to detail.

The NHSBSA is working hard to make sure that services are easy to use for customers with autism and that employees with autism are supported in the workplace, including delivering training about autism to colleagues and those in customer-facing roles, and producing easy-read versions of our information for customers.

Jane Miller, Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion at NHSBSA commented: “As part of our pathways to work initiative to help people from marginalised groups access employment opportunities, we are also working with charities and education providers to offer work experience and placements for people of all ages with different needs, including autism.”

Friends of Gibside is a charity that raises funds for the school, to help the children achieve their very best and a good foundation for adult life.  The volunteers work hard with the school to raise money for specialised equipment, resources and other activities.

Sarah Johnson, Business Manager at Gibside School said: “In 2017 we received funding for a new school, which is now currently under planning consultation.  The proposed new school design has been a process of balancing space needed with budget available and it is likely that if all goes ahead we will need to gain extra funding for more facilities i.e. a new sensory room, soft play room, food tech room/kitchen and outside area development (classroom outdoor spaces, sensory garden). Any donation helps and there are lots of fundraising activities to get involved in.” To find out more contact Sarah on 0191 441 0123 or

For more information on autism or for advice visit the National Autism Society website: