“Children who have short breaks with the North East Autism surpass the expectations of professionals and even their parents.”

These are the powerful words delivered in the latest OUTSTANDING Ofsted report for our children’s services.

After inspecting Acorn House, situated within the grounds of the North East Centre for Autism in Newton Aycliffe, manager Donna Williams and her team were given the top accolade.

This is the third ‘outstanding’ within the North East Autism Society ‘s care services for children, in as any months.

The inspection report said that all the children and young people attending progressed from their starting points and included a quote from a healthcare professional praising our innovative programmes.

They said:

The staff are incredibly person-centred [about the] individual needs of children and young people and are passionate about finding the right care. They really do go the extra mile. The children and young people could not cope in other environments without that level of commitment.

Manager Donna Williams added: “We are thrilled to have received ‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted because we truly believe we make a difference.

“A lot of people think these kind of services are just ‘respite’ – a break for the families. But here at Acorn House we provide a place our children look forward to coming to.

“We help develop life skills and offer experiences, we’ve seen children make lasting friendships and we know that those hours, or nights spent with us offer families a time to rest, to nurture other siblings, and that time offers the children and young people a home from home, even if it’s for a short time.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team.”

It was also noted within the report that transitions – which can be particularly difficult for children who are autistic or who have other examples of neurodiversity – are an area in which Acorn House staff excel.

A social worker commented: ‘Transition planning is working really well. Staff often come up with ideas which have been invaluable. There have been lots of challenges and I am really pleased at the staff and the manager in their support.’

With another professional reporting that one child in particular, ‘is very settled and relaxed. He gets to go out all the time in the community,’ despite his initial report from social services describing his behaviour as ‘very challenging’.

Director of Care for the North East Autism Society, Brian Stoker, said:

Yet another incredible report is testament to the team on the ground who are committed to making sure every child or young person who walks through our doors is not only welcomed into a safe, homely, stimulating environment but who is so well known and understood that with every visit we see progress, in all areas. 

“Well done to everyone at Acorn House. Your hard work and passion for your jobs have paid off.”