The Autism Dividend: Reaping the Rewards of Better Investment

The UK’s failure to base support for autistic people on the best available evidence comes at an unacceptable human and unsustainable financial cost. The challenges are exacerbated by the limited investment in research to fill the many gaps in that evidence. Implementing practices of proven value and increasing investment in research will improve outcomes for autistic people with less waste of scarce resources.

These are the main conclusions of our report,  the most comprehensive on current autism practice ever undertaken in the UK. The report is endorsed by leading charities and experts in the field, and calls for more to be done to shape policy and improve practice in autism.

The title of the report, The Autism Dividend: Reaping the Rewards of Better Investment, encapsulates our view that concerted action to address this failure (as set out in a series of policy and research recommendations) will result in better outcomes for autistic people, and in a more cost-effective way.

Read more on this and download the complete report here:

The Scottish Strategy for Autism Fifth Annual Conference

Autism Network Scotland will be broadcasting all main presentations live from the Scottish Strategy for Autism Fifth Annual Conference on Monday 16th January via the Scottish Strategy for Autism Facebook page.


Please tune in and share this information with your friends, family and colleagues.


We will also be live tweeting the event from You can join the conversation on Monday using #AutismStrategyConference.


Our keynote presentations will include an update on local autism strategy implementation from Jean MacLellan and Donald MacLeod of Autism Network Scotland and the much-anticipated launch of the Principles of Good Transition 3 and its autism supplement, with our colleagues from the Association for Real Change. Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Mental Health, will be here to help us reflect on the day and point us towards our collective future. 



9.00 – 9.30        Registration

9.30 – 9.40        Welcome and Introduction

Professor Jean MacLellan, OBE, Chair of Scottish Strategy for Autism Governance Group

9.40 – 10.15      Outcomes: What’s happening locally?

Local strategy implementation, obstacles and opportunities.

Jean MacLellan, Donald Macleod, Project Manager, Autism Network Scotland and colleagues from across Scotland

10.15 – 10.40    Pathways: Why do they matter? Children and Early Intervention

Nick Balchin, Principal Educational Psychologist, Falkirk Council; Jessica Street, Consultant Paediatrician, NHS Forth Valley

10.40 – 11.05    Principles: Good Transitions

Launch of Principles of Good Transitions III, including autism supplement

James Fletcher, Director, Association for Real Change Scotland and Chair of Strategy Working Group 2; Scott Richardson Read, Development Officer, ARC Scotland; Lynsey Stewart, Network Advisor, Autism Network Scotland

11.05 – 11.25    Coffee Break

11.25 – 12.25    Workshop 1

12.25 – 1.10      Lunch

1.10 – 1.35        Education: Training the diagnosticians to build capacity and capability in the workforce. 

Dr Janine Robinson, Educational Project Manager (Autism), NHS Education for Scotland; Gail Milroy, Educational Project Manager (Autism), NHS Education for Scotland

1.35 – 2.35        Workshop 2

2.35 – 3.00        Women and Girls: Diagnosis and Life

NHS Highland; Dr Catriona Stewart, Autism Advisor, Scottish Autism; Charlene Tait, Director of Autism Practice and Research, Scottish Autism

3.00 – 3.15        Coffee Break

3.15 – 4.15        Workshop 3

4.15 – 4.30        A Shared Future

Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Mental Health, Scottish Government

4.30 - 4.35         Thanks and close

4.35 - 5.00         Coffee and networking



Workshop 1 – A Shared Future: Tackling the gaps

Workshop 1 will be delivered in several concurrent sessions and is to be attended by all delegates.  Its purpose is to have focused, facilitated discussion on the priorities for the next five years of the strategy.

Jonathan Delafield-Butt, Senior Lecturer in Child Development, University of Strathclyde; James Fletcher, Chair of Working Group 2; Anne-Marie Gallagher, Chair of Working Group 4; Emma Hanley, Network Co-ordinator, Autism Network Scotland; Richard Ibbotson, Chair of Working Group 1; Jean MacLellan; Donald Macleod; Jessica McPherson, Head of Strategy and Delivery Care Rights and Support, Scottish Government; Gail Milroy, Educational Project Manager (Autism), NHS Education for Scotland; Jayne Porter, Network Advisor, Autism Network Scotland; Annette Pyle, Team Leader, Learning Disability and Autism Policies, Care, Support & Rights Division, Health and Social Care Integration Directorate, Scottish Government; Lynsey Stewart, Network Advisor, Autism Network Scotland.

Workshop 2 – Money, Money, Money: Quantifying lifelong economic costs of autism

Professor Tommy MacKay, University of Strathclyde

This workshop will provide delegates with an overview of some key findings of the Microsegmentation study, the full findings of which will be launched in the near future, led by Professor Tommy MacKay. The overall aim of the study has been to identify the escapable costs of autism, that is, those which would not be incurred with early and appropriate interventions, and to provide the evidence base on which these can be applied to the context of the population of Scotland. Delegates will have a preview of key economic and other data arising from the study, together with new evidence-based information on how the autism spectrum may be meaningfully segmented. The full results of the study, when launched, will have major implications for the delivery of national and local autism strategies and for the future of autism research in Scotland.

Workshop 3 – What’s Working? Autism and employment across Scotland

Angie Black, Service Manager, Glasgow Supported Employment Service, Glasgow City Council; Emma Hanley, Project Search, Richard Ibbotson, Chair of Working Group 1 of the Scottish Strategy for Autism; Neil Macleod, Head of Service, Shirlie Project; Hugh O’Donnell, Project Coordinator, Values Into Action Scotland; Jenny Paterson, Director, The National Autistic Society Scotland.

This workshop will provide delegates with a greater understanding of current initiatives and practice in employment. A strategic overview will provide the backdrop for the range of projects being delivered, nationally. Presentations will showcase good practice in a range of employment contexts. Information about the national Autism and Employment Network will also be provided, allowing delegates the opportunity to engage with other organisations and access guidelines and resources to support good practice.

Workshop 4 – Positive Partnerships - how to integrate autism into the integration agenda

Pamela Gowans, Chief Officer, Health and Social Care Moray

The integration agenda has provided opportunities for changes to traditional models of service delivery; requiring greater partnership working and innovative thinking and leading to access to integrated services across the lifespan.

During this workshop, delegates will discuss their own experiences of integration and consider how to ensure that the services required to respond to the specific challenges relating to autism are both appropriate and protected.

Workshop 5 – Choice and Control: Understanding the role of Self Directed Support

Des McCart, SDS and Commissioning, Healthcare Improvement Scotland; Cathy Steedman, Director, Autism Initiatives.

Delegates will be provided with an overview of the work carried out by Scottish Government and key national partners, and information about the National Plan for 2016/18. Insight into the experiences of autistic individuals and their families during the SDS process will also be provided. Delegates will be invited to share their experience of SDS and discuss how to ensure that autistic people have opportunities to exercise choice and control in their lives.

Workshop 6 – Building Local Capacity in Supporting People with Autism, Learning Disabilities, and Complex Needs: A Scottish Government project to minimise the use of out-of-area placements and reduce delayed discharge

Dr Anne MacDonald, Complex Needs Project Lead, Scottish Government & Head of Complex Needs, The Richmond Fellowship Scotland.

‎This workshop will outline a Scottish Government project to explore the type of support required for individuals with learning disabilities and complex needs, a significant proportion of whom also have autism. The project seeks to address the use of out-of-area placements and to minimise delayed discharge for this group.‎

The workshop will outline the project and describe its aims and timescales. Delegates will have an opportunity to discuss the support solutions; share experiences of building local capacity and developing high quality services and share good practice.

Workshop 7 – Pathways in Practice: understanding the role of service change in the reduction of waiting times for diagnosis for children and adults

Morag Burns, NHS Lothian; Rachel King, ASD Resource Team Project Manager, NHS Lothian; Marion Rutherford, Speech & Language Therapist, NHS Lothian; Dr Andrew Stanfield, Consultant, NHS Lothian

Members of NHS Lothian child and adult ASD diagnostic services will share information about the clinical service experience of pathway review and change. The workshop will showcase the process of developing and implementing a new pathway and the models applied. Delegates will have an understanding of the reasoning behind the need for change and the development of a new multi—disciplinary pathway. Discussions will explore the challenges and benefits of the change in building capacity for ASD diagnosis and introducing more efficient working practices. Delegates will also have the opportunity to discuss their own local practice and to review the resources developed to accompany each pathway.



Keep up-to-date with all news on the Scottish Strategy for Autism Facebook page.

You can also follow Autism Network Scotland on Facebook and on Twitter.


What is supported decision-making? New good practice guide from the Mental Welfare Comission

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland has published a new good practice guide on supported decision-making.

The guide was produced for the Commission by Jill Stavert, Professor of Law at Napier University and sets out why supported decision-making is an important concept.

It explains how adults with mental illness (including dementia), learning disabilities and other related conditions, who may have difficulty making decisions, can be supported to ensure that decisions made, by or about them, genuinely reflect their choices.

You can read the new MWC good practice guide on supported decision making here.

Films from the Autism Europe 2016 Congress are now available

Speaker films from the Autism Europe 2016 Congress are now available to view via Network Autism.  To view the content please click on the link below:

In addition, the abstracts and presentations from the symposia and poster presentations are still available online and will be there for another 4 years! You can access these by following this link.

Click on the symposia or poster presentation you are interested in and it will reveal the abstract and also the presentation slides (if these have been supplied by the presenter).

If you were a symposia, oral poster or poster presenter at the Congress and would like to upload your slides, PDF of your poster or any other information (such as video, images, etc)  to share with other attendees, you can still do so.

Instructions on how to upload them to Ex Ordo can be found here.

Contact [email protected] if you are having difficulties uploading your files.

If you have previously uploaded your presentation and want to amend / add to it, follow the instructions at the end of this email.

Finally, there are lots of photos from the 3-day congress and the Gala Evening.  You can have a look at these on the shared googledrive by following this link.

Scotland's Oral Health Plan - A New Consultation

The Scottish Government is launching its new consultation on the oral health of children and access to NHS dental services for patients. See below for details.


We have observed substantial improvements in the oral health of children, and in access to NHS dental services for patients.

There are now over 4.8 million people registered with a NHS dentist. This is reflected in the unprecedented increase in the numbers of NHS dentists, where we have seen an increase of around 30 per cent in the last eight years.

We can be especially proud of the excellent progress made in the oral health of children. This is a crucial area, as dental decay is almost always entirely preventable, and by ensuring good oral health in children, we help safeguard the oral health of the future adult population. We can happily report that the latest National Dental Inspection Programme (2015) showed that 75 per cent of children in Scotland at Primary 7 had ‘no obvious decay experience’, compared with 59 per cent in 2007. We have also seen similar progress amongst Primary 1 children.

We want to ensure that the oral health of the nation continues to improve and that we take additional measures to improve the oral health of the most disadvantaged communities, and meet the challenge of an ageing population. Our NHS dental services in Scotland need to be more closely aligned to the patient’s needs, enabling the dental team to support the patient in improving and maintaining their oral health.


This consultation document focuses on important issues we have to address in the future. The publication of this document represents the start of our stakeholder engagement. We will be talking and listening to patients, dentists, and other health professionals, as well as the wider NHS, in how we take dental services forward to meet the challenges of the future.

See the complete consultation here.