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Business leaders welcome charity’s plans to move to city

The Puzzle Centre has outgrown its current home in Middle Claydon near Buckingham and has received a substantial donation towards building a new home.

The charity, which delivers early intervention for children with autism, is close to securing the land in Milton Keynes with construction to due to start in around 18 months, fundraising manager Anna Saunders and chair of trustees Graham Wylie told a breakfast briefing hosted by Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership.

The planned new nursery will also support parents and families of autistic children and be a centre of excellence for training autism professionals.

Mr Wylie said there is a growing demand for Puzzle Centre’s services and expertise. “Our aim is to expand and raise the money to do it but the most difficult money to raise is that which keeps our doors open and allows us to carry on what we are doing and give us sustainability,” he said. 

The centre is keen to work with the Milton Keynes business community to raise awareness of and get support for Puzzle Centre’s work, he added.

Parent Louise Gregory gave a moving account of having a young son diagnosed with autism.  She knew nothing about autism until Zachary faced challenges with his development.  “He was not speaking, something was not right,” she said. “He would not look at me, would not dress himself and then nothing functioned properly – as if someone had taken our son away in the night.”

She contacted Puzzle centre for help and was introduced to courses on behaviour issues, sensory processing, light therapy and how fabrics and touch can help.

“I signed up for the lot,” Louise told the meeting. “Zachary is now four and waiting to go to nursery, is making friends and he can now say “my mum”. Puzzle Centre has just opened up our world.”

Puzzle Centre was founded in 2001 by Alex Stanyer, an internationally-known expert on autism.  Autism is a life-long neurological condition that affects one in 100 people in the UK who can struggle with communicating, interacting with others and have problems dealing with emotions and everyday activities.  Autism costs the UK £32 billion a year.  

MKBLP chair Dr Philip Smith, who has visited Puzzle Centre, said: “I was very impressed with their work with children with autism at an early stage when it can be of great benefit to them and their parents.  We are pleased to hear they are moving to Milton Keynes.” 

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