WHAT IS THE PUZZLE CENTRE AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
Established in 2001, Puzzle Centre is an innovative charity based in Buckingham that aims to
provide and promote both a local and national level, best practice early years intervention for young
children with communication and autism spectrum disorders between the ages of two and five.
The charity works closely with families to give support, guidance and training whilst providing outreach to
families where nursery attendance is not possible. it delivers training across the UK for practitioners and
informs policy and research on the provision of high quality early intervention for children.
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
The onset of Coronavirus meant the cancellation of all community events and a significant reduction in
income for the centre’s Autism Early Support outreach service. This lack of fundraising potential meant the
need to furlough the majority of the Puzzle Centre staff and the closure of its specialist nursery.
The charity understood the need to continue to support children and families during these difficult and
isolating times, recognising that life for a parent with a child with autism is often demanding and
exhausting. It knew that there would also be parental concerns with regard ongoing educational statutory
requirements for children starting primary school in September.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DID THE APPEAL AWARD MAKE?
As a direct result of funding, Puzzle Centre has been able to provide a weekly support telephone call to
parents and tele-therapy sessions for children from a Specialist Teacher and Occupational Therapist. The
project will run for over 20 weeks, and help 58 children with autism and social communication difficulties
and their families.
The appeal award means that Puzzle Centre is able to retain an occupational therapist, specialist teacher
and member of staff to provide family liaison support services and to ensure that statutory requirements
regarding any child’s ongoing educational needs are met. As a result, there will be no delay in their access
to services post-pandemic.
Telephone support from specialist staff is helping families to realise that they’re not alone and that
guidance and strategies can be put in place for them to support their child whilst at home at this
“Nobody supports children with autism in the Early Years like the Puzzle Centre does. It is a
completely unique place. They not only support the child but every member of their family too so
when COVID 19 hit, we all went into lockdown, the necessary closure of the Puzzle Centre hit our
family hard. Not just because it changed our weekly routine as we couldn’t visit but we lost our
face to face personalised support too.
As a parent, you are made to feel just as important as the needs of your child when you walk
through the doors of the Puzzle Centre. The staff took every opportunity to ask if you are ok,
provide family liaison support with other Puzzle Centre parents as well as Outreach services if you
Under very difficult circumstances, they’ve done everything possible for us during lockdown to
stay in touch and listen to the worries lockdown has created for both parent and child and
proactively suggest ways to cope”.