Parents in the Cork area founded the Cork Association for Autism (CAA) in March 1978 because of a total lack of facilities of any kind for children with autism at that time. The CAA is a voluntary non-profit making group. It is structured as a limited company and has been accorded charitable status. Having brought the plight of autistic children and their parents in the Cork area to public notice and having seen and been party to the development of schooling to the age of 18, the Association’s focus turned to aftercare—viz. provision of a ‘home for life’ for young adults.
In 1987, the Association purchased Greenville House, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork. The old Georgian house on six acres was fully renovated and was opened by the then President, Mary Robinson in 1991. All of the work up to this point was undertaken without any financial assistance from statutory authorities. Greenville is the first adult after-care centre in our region, which is proving an ethos and environment specifically designed for autistic adults. It provides a full-time day and residential service for adults in a secure, caring setting.
The Health Service Executive recognises the Association and the value of the work it is doing in our region. The Southern Region of the HSE has been very supportive of and encouraging to the Association. It provides ongoing annual financial backing toward meeting running costs and has provided capital grants, where possible, in support of expansion of existing services and development of new services. Six residential cottages were built on the grounds at Greenville and were opened by Micheál Martin, then Minister for Health and Children, in June 1991. The projected total number of fulltime day and residential places at Greenville is eighteen.
The Association recently stepped out in faith and purchased Crobally House, Mogeely Co. Cork. This fine property stands on five acres and has adequate space for future developments. The Service at Crobally was formally opened by the Minister for Trade and Commerce, Michael Ahern, on 5 May 2006. This new service is aimed at giving vital respite to autistic adults who are without a service and to give relief to their hard-pressed families. The support and backing of the HSE Southern Region for this project has been critical at this start-up stage. Ongoing funding is also being provided towards meeting annual running costs.
As the majority of the young people will be unable to find work in the outside world, our task is to provide meaningful work and leisure activities within the grounds at Greenville and a place of respite at Crobally in Mogeely, for families who would otherwise have no service.