This paper describes the challenges in starting a service for the diagnosis of and intensive therapeutic intervention for children with autism in a provincial town in western Greece (Messolonghi). Personnel had to be trained, the community had to be educated to accept and use the new service, and stigma had to be dealt with. Currently, fully developed 10 years after the beginning of the effort, in any one week the Day Centre serves on average 35 children with autism and 20 children with specific language impairment. The treatment programme runs along behavioural lines and the results are presently encouraging. Of 32 children referred consecutively to the Centre, after 5 years eight (25%) were attending regular school classes without a diagnosis of autism and eight (25%) with milder symptoms were attending classes with academic assistance. The limited impact of the Centre on the wider community is discussed.