Health and Wellbeing

Autism Friendly

Autism Impact Award Gold Champion

Autism NI have awarded us the prestigious ‘Autism Impact Award’ in recognition of the Council venues going ‘above and beyond’ to create accessible and ‘autism-friendly’ environments.

Autism Events     Pre-visit Guides     Jam Card     Become an Autism Friendly Business

The Autism Impact Award recognises organisations who excel in creating a more autism friendly environment for their customers.

Through attaining an Impact Award, organisations can confidently open up their facilities and services to the 30,000 individuals and families living with Autism in Northern Ireland that previously may have been excluded.

This award equips organisations to better understand any staff and customers who may have Autism and allows them to adapt their organisation’s environment to support this. 

The Impact Award includes staff training and support to implement a range of adjustments to improve accessibility.

Please see below the venues which achieved the Awards:

  • Carrickfergus Ampitheatre
  • Larne Leisure Centre
  • Seven Towers Leisure Centre
  • Carnfunnock Country Park
  • The Gobbins
  • The People’s Park

Copies of Autism Friendly event presentations

We have presentations available from the following organisations:

  • National Autistic Society NI
  • Education Authority Autism Advisory & Intervention Service
  • Northern Health & Social Care Trust
  • Northern Regional College
  • NOW Group
  • University of Ulster & Queens University Belfast
  • Autism NI
  • MEA Borough Council Leisure Services
  • MEA Borough Council Parks & Open Spaces

To request a copy of any of these please email: 

Pre-visit Guides

These guides will help visitors get ready for their trip.

They will tell you how to get to and enter the sites, explain how to find your way around, show you some of the things that you can do when you visit and some will also introduce you to some of the staff who work there.

More guides will be added as they become available and will be updated to match any changes at the various locations.

Carrickfergus Amphitheatre


Larne Leisure Centre


Seven Towers Leisure Centre


Carnfunnock Country Park - Day Visit


Carnfunnock Country Park - Overnight Visit


The Gobbins Visitor Centre & Cliffpath


The People's Park

Jam Card

We are delighted to share news of our ongoing work to make Mid and East Antrim an Autism Friendly place to live, work or visit. 

In partnership with Northern Health and Social Care Trust, we have been working to improve the autism accessibility of our services.

  • Autism is lifelong and affects the development of social and communication skills.
    It can affect the way an individual relates to people, situations and the environment
  • A person with Autism will have difficulty processing everyday sensory information like sight, smell, touch, taste and sounds
  • In Northern Ireland, 1 in 21 children have a diagnosis of autism (Autism NI Statistics)

Through the Autism NI Impact Award programme, a number of staff from Leisure, Parks and Open Spaces and The Gobbins have completed Autism Champion training.

This training has given them a greater understanding of Autism and how by making adaptations, we can better support the Autism community.

Work is well underway to make our leisure centres, visitor attractions and public spaces more inclusive to the additional needs of autistic children and adults.

From a day out to the park, to arranging a swim, theatre visit or guided tour, we want autistic people, their families or carers to experience a welcoming and enjoyable visit.

As part of this, we have committed to becoming a JAM Card Friendly Organisation.

This initiative is another positive step in the right direction in our journey to become an Autism Friendly Borough.

JAM (Just A Minute) Card was originally developed for those with learning disabilities and difficulties.

However, it can be used by anyone with a communication barrier including people with Autism or Asperger’s.

It can also be used by those who have a brain injury, dementia and people who may feel self-conscious about their ability to effectively communicate when engaging with others.

JAM Card friendly notice ask people to be patient as the user is autistic.

Top Tips to becoming an Autism Friendly Business

Mid and East Antrim is an Autism Friendly Borough.

We believe that having a better understanding of autism is essential to make our services more accessible for everyone and creating a more inclusive community.

Our Autism Friendly initiative, being delivered in partnership with the Northern Health & Social Care Trust, has developed a Top Tips leaflet to help all services and retail in the Borough become more Autism Friendly.

Key considerations to becoming an autism friendly organisation:

  • Understand as much as you can about autism - a good way is to join our free “Becoming Autism Friendly” Workshops. Contact us to book a session!
  • Styles of communication are a fundamental part of engaging with the autistic community
  • Try presenting your information in different formats such as using visuals and pictures, videos and audio to complement the written text
  • Enable on line information to be downloaded and/or printed
  • When communicating with an individual keep your language clear and concise
  • Allow for additional time - when interacting with an autistic person it is helpful to give them time to talk, to process information and to respond
  • Many autistic people will experience anxiety, which will often impact their quality of life.
    By providing advance information, autistic visitors can prepare before their visit, which will manage their expectations, reduce anxiety and help with planning their visit.
    Even if you don’t have a venue, providing information on line or via social media about what people can expect can help to reduce anxiety
  • The environment is important - some autistic people are particularly sensitive to light, movement, sounds, smell and touch.
    Try to keep the immediate environment as calm as possible to help alleviate any anxiety.
    If this is not possible consider providing a quiet space, or scheduling quiet times to accommodate autistic individuals.
    Alternatively, introducing the use of sensory packs for customer use can help an individual to self-regulate
  • A key concern for the autistic community if the need to make last minute changes to appointments and are at times penalised for missing appointments in circumstances that could not be avoided.
    Consider your policies around this to see if they could be amended to incorporate exceptions for these circumstances
  • Consider the provision of training to support staff further eg JAM Card (NOW Group), Autism NI Impact Award or National Autistic Society

For additional information on our free training sessions contact:

Fiona Surgenor

Jayne Colville

Other support organisations -

Autism NI
T: 028 9040 1729

Now Group
T: 028 9043 6400

National Autistic Society
T: 028 9068 7066

Autism Initiatives
T: 028 9069 9130