By Evie Andreou
The Cyprus Autistic Association on Thursday said they were on the brink of closing down their intervention centres in Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos that cater to the needs of 33 persons with severe autism, due to lack of funds.
The group, which has made a number of pleas to the government so far asking for more help, said they can no longer struggle with the soaring expenses and their three intervention centres face closure.
If this happens, the families of 33 adults with severe autism will not have any place to send them as no other institution will take them in, the chairperson of the association, Maria Kleanthous said.
“We need permanent solutions, we, as parents, can no longer go on like this,” Kleanthous told the Cyprus Mail.
She said that the association needs around €50,000 per month for administrative expenses for its three intervention centres that offer programmes for adults and teenagers but also therapy programmes for children with autism. The centre in Limassol has been operating since 2004, that in Paphos since 2009 and in Nicosia since 2010. The annual state aid amounts to 35 per cent of the overall budget necessary for the centres to operate. The rest, Kleanthous said, is being raised by the association that is in a constant struggle to find donors.
She said that the association has sent letters to the president and the labour minister asking for help. The minister, Kleanthous, expresses willingness to help, but it is also up to the government and available budget.
The centres operate as daycare facilities for adults with severe autism and who exhibit aggression or self-destructive behaviour and thus require numerous staff to handle them.
“We currently have a 40-member staff. Most of the people at the centres need each one carer, while if a person goes in regression, they might need two carers. Things are very difficult,” Kleanthous said.
She said that other institutions or centres offering adult day care refuse to take these people in, and if the association’s centres close down, their families will have nowhere to take them.
Inability to meet monthly expenses, she said, means that they are also unable to take in more adults with severe autism that are on waiting lists.