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(UK) Islington: New cafe caters to customers with autism

May 26, 2023, Islington Tribune: Cafe offers safe space for autistic people

Near London

AN autism support café is fundraising for a bigger space after its opening.

The new café, which offers peer support for autistic people and parents of autistic children, launched on Sunday in the Vibast Community Centre in Old Street.

Although the doors are freshly open, its founder Juliana Lottmann, is in search of a sponsor to expand its services.

“The café gives you that emotional support – knowing you’re not alone, that other people are going through the same thing and there’s no need to feel ashamed or let it affect your mental health,” said Ms Lottmann, who has an autistic son.

Ms Lottmann struggled to get her son’s school to take his needs seriously.

“The school worked very hard to dismiss me, to make me feel as if I’m crazy or trying to find problems where they don’t exist. This was terrible for both my mental health and my child’s.

“When I started talking to other parents, I realised my horror story is actually peanuts in comparison with what other people are going through. So, I felt this very strong need – ‘If I cannot help these people because I can’t work in the Department for Education, let me at least give them a space for peer support and give them the mental health support they need’,” said Ms Lottmann.

The café, which is open to people of all neurodiversities, is part of the London Autism Group Charity which runs a number of cafés around London. Ms Lottmann says the café is looking for sponsors to allow them to expand into different rooms – one for mindfulness and meditation, a quiet space for those with sensory needs, and a room for a volunteer to teach Makaton, a language that uses a mix of symbols, signs, and speech….


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