Ambitious about Autism
Ambitious about Autism is a UK national charity dedicated to improving opportunities for young people on the Autistic Spectrum, including those with autism or Asperger Syndrome. Originally established in 1997 as the TreeHouse Trust, the charity was founded by a group of parents - including author Nick Hornby - whose children had been diagnosed with autism.
Their mission has been described as being to "help children and young people with autism to learn, thrive and achieve – making the ordinary possible."
It is known for operating TreeHouse School in London, a special school which adheres to the Applied Behaviour Analysis method, and which was rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted in its 2012 inspection.
The charity was originally known as the TreeHouse Trust and began the school, with five pupils, in a borrowed room in the Royal Free Hospital in London. In 2004 the school moved to Muswell Hill, also in London, and in October 2008 moved into a purpose designed building - the Pears National Centre for Autism Education.
The Pears National Centre for Autism Education
Officially opened in 2009, the centre became home to both the TreeHouse School and the charity. It was designed by British architects Penoyre & Prasad who also designed the Richard Desmond Children's Eye Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital. It was named for the Pears Foundation, a major supporter.
Ambitious about Autism
An event at the House of Lords on 10 February 2010 it was announced that TreeHouse Trust would be renamed Ambitious about Autism. Aside from a new identity, it marked a change in the strategy of the charity. The school - still to be known as TreeHouse School - had a permanent home, with pupils' places mainly funded by their Local Education Authority, but there was still much to achieve in raising awareness and understanding of autism, the provision of a wider range of services and the influencing of UK Government policy.
Campaigning for change
An example of their desire to influence policy is the 'Finished at School' campaign, which aims to change the facts that less than one in four children with autism in the UK go on to Further Education and that ~85% of adults with autism are unemployed. The campaign began in October 2011 with the launch of a self-named report, with a foreword by Robert Buckland MP. Subtitled "Where next for young people with autism?", it called for the British Government to create "A clear legal right to educational support up to the age of 25 years for young disabled people".
The Finished at School campaign was supported by an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons entitled "That this House believes that young people with autism need more effective education options once they finish school in order to allow them to access work, live more independently and break the cycle of dependency; and supports the Finished at School campaign run by Ambitious about Autism...". 55 MPs signed in support of the motion.
Talk about Autism
The charity runs the online autism community Talk about Autism as part of its mission to support families and individuals affected by the condition.
The following are Parent Patrons of the charity. There are also a number of Youth Patrons.
- The Rt Hon John Bercow MP
- Sally Bercow
- Nicola Clark
- Matthew Davis
- Keith Duffy
- Eliza Mishcon
- Charlotte Moore
- Claire Ryan
In 2011, Sally Bercow donated £100,000 from a TV appearance on Channel 5 to Ambitious about Autism.
- Luke Treadaway
- Sarah Cawood
- Michelle Collins
- Jonny Gould
- Jon Snow
- Hayley Ronson
The charity's President is Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE. He is supported by several Vice Presidents, including Nick Hornby. The Chief Executive is Jolanta Lasota.
- ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk - official website.
- talkaboutautism.org.uk - online autism community.
- treehouseschool.org.uk - TreeHouse School homepage.