Autism Strategy Collaborative considers transitions at event

Following successful events in January and in April, the National Autism Co-ordination Project (NACP) held a third event for local leads working on autism plans and strategies. The Autism Strategy Collaborative Business Meeting and Development Workshop was held on September 25 at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. The Collaborative represents a commitment from local authorities across Scotland to the formation of a “community of practice”, sharing best practice and working together to overcome common challenges occurring nationwide.

This meeting focused on transitions for people on the autism spectrum, across the lifespan. The meeting was opened by Donald Macleod, NACP Project Manager, who provided an update on the progress on local autism strategies and plans across Scotland. He also discussed the Autism Outcomes and Priorities, which reframes the Scottish Strategy for Autism into outcomes. Professor Jean MacLellan, National Lead Co-ordinator of the NACP, went on to set the scene for the morning presentations on transitions in Scotland.

James Fletcher of the Association for Real Change (ARC) Scotland presented on the work of the Scottish Strategy for Autism's Work Group 2. Scott Richardson-Read, also of ARC Scotland, presented on the development of seven principles of good transitions, as outlined in the Principles of Good Transitions 2 document, and described the outcomes of the recent series of roadshow events, Exploring Transitions: Digging Deeper. Autism Network Scotland produced a report on the findings from the roadshows; to view this report online, please click here. Two mums then presented on their organisation, Galaxy Group, and how they were looking at creative ways to pool self-directed support resources among young people in Aberdeenshire.

The afternoon session of the event saw two workshops taking place with delegates attending each workshop in turn. The first workshop was delivered by Lynsay Haglington, East Dunbartonshire Council; Carole Anderson, NHS Health Improvement Team; and Tracy Wenzl, Autism Network Scotland. This workshop discussed asset mapping from several angles. Lynsay presented East Dunbartonshire’s own asset map, developed in their community by service users.  Carole presented the WITTY (What’s Important to You) application for iPads, which allows users to create their own personal asset maps. Tracy presented on Autism Network Scotland’s Menu of Interventions local resource pages, where community resources have been gathered and listed for 14 local communities across Scotland.

The second workshop discussed legal obligations in relation to transitions, comparing people's expectations to the reality of going through the process. It was presented by Scott Richardson-Read.

All of the presentations from the day, as well as several of the resources named throughout the afternoon, are linked on our website.

Local authorities move forward with strategy events

Autism Network Scotland and the National Autism Coordination Project have carried out several strategy implementation and consultation events. At each of these events, Professor Jean MacLellan has spoken about the Scottish Strategy for Autism and the work of the Governance and Working Groups. Donald Macleod has talked about the Scottish Government’s Outcomes Framework. The Framework reframes the existing Strategy into outcomes in line with national priorities. He has explained how the outcomes also relate to priorities within local autism strategies.

A wide mix of parents and carers, people with autism and practitioners attended a consultation event in Aberdeen. Delegates discussed the Aberdeen City Autism Strategy and give their views on existing practice, good practice, gaps in practice, priorities and recommendations for implementation and links with local goals. The information collated will be used to update the Aberdeen City Autism Strategy.

In Dumfries and Galloway, the Network and NACP facilitated an event for people with autism and parents. Delegates explored the national strategy and its links with local priorities in small groups. Each table had an age group focus, which created a supportive atmosphere. There was common ground amongst the parents dealing with various situations with children of similar age groups. The communal atmosphere allowed for an emotional but supportive event. Delegates were able to feed their thoughts back into their local strategy.

A pan-Ayrshire draft local strategy was just launched. The Network and NACP facilitated a consultation event with a wide range of practitioners across the three Ayrshires. The Head of Community Health & Care Services opened the event, which focused on local priorities and the link with national outcomes. A new lead officer has been appointed in this area. The NACP will continue working with them to develop an implementation plan and ensure that the strategy has a positive impact on those it serves. Further consultation events are planned in the coming months. These events will be organised by the One Stop Shop in Kilmarnock.

The Network and NACP are also part of an upcoming consultation event for parents, carers, family members and individuals with autism who live in East Dunbartonshire. East Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care and partners are hosting the event to launch the East Dunbartonshire Autism Strategy. It will provide an opportunity for local residents to help implement the strategy across the community. This will help shape the landscape for autistic people in East Dunbartonshire.

To express your interest to attend this event or for further details please contact Irene Loughlin.

NES publishes updated autism web resource for GPs, PCPs

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has just published an updated web resource on autism spectrum disorders. The resource is designed for use by general and primary care practitioners. It offers information on a number of topics including screening, diagnosis, health and behaviour, and adjustments to practice.

The initial resource was produced by the autism team at the University of Birmingham and commissioned by NES. The Scottish Government commissioned NES to develop a number of autism-related training materials, including the Autism Training Framework and Autism Training Plan. During this process, an e-learning resource containing practical strategies for primary care practitioners was also developed. This work was conducted by the NES autism project managers, Dr Janine Robinson and Dr Gail Milroy, under the direction of Marie Claire Shankland, the NES director of the autism project.

NES worked closely with the autism community on the review and revision of the web resource’s content. Thom Kirkwood, Michael Dawson, and Kabie Brook reviewed the resource and obtained feedback from others in the broader autism community, including ARGH (Autism Rights Group Highland) and other community groups.  Thom recently thanked the autism community on social media, saying, “Us three could not have made such contributions without your help and support from across the autism community. I can advise that NES took all feedback on board to produce a vastly improved resource.” He went on to describe the process as “another example of positive strategic partnership working” and thanked the NES team.

The updated web resource can be accessed by clicking here.

Employment web resource launched at annual event

On Monday 5th October 2015, Autism Network Scotland’s Autism & Employment Network hosted its third annual event at the University of Strathclyde. The event saw the launch of the brand new Autism & Employment Network website, with the site being introduced by Richard Ibbotson of Autism Initiatives and ANS advisor Annie Watson. The web resource provides information for employers on supporting and hiring employees with autism. The website showcases the resources and services in Scotland that aim to improve the employment experiences of autistic people. The section for employers includes information about making reasonable adjustments for employees on the autism spectrum. There is information about and for supported employment agencies.  These agencies can help people with autism find jobs and develop skills for the workplace. The web resource also has a section for autistic people about where to find support and information related to employment.

The event looked at the employment process, through finding and getting a job, starting in a new job, and support once in work from the perspectives of people on the autism spectrum, services that support them, and employers. Attendees also heard about the recent work of Autism Network Scotland’s Employment Network, and watched the videos they have filmed

David Breslin, a public speaker with Asperger’s Syndrome, offered his own personal perspective on finding work. You can find out more about David’s work on his website.

ANS advisor Lynsey Stewart presented on transitions and the workplace, which included discussion of the findings of the recent Exploring Transitions: Digging Deeper events across Scotland. You can read the final report on this series of events here.

Other presentations on the day included an HR perspective on the recruitment of people on the autism spectrum; experiences of autistic people with job advertising, applications, interviews and selection processes; and a presentation on a service provider and service user’s experiences of starting a new job.

Afternoon workshops were based around discussing different case studies, and what advice should be given to an autistic person, an employer/HR worker and a person/service providing support to individuals at different stages of the employment process. The workshops were facilitated by members of the Autism Network Scotland Employment Network.

Providers and Commissioners Collaborative forms at Strathclyde

In May, Autism Network Scotland and the National Autism Coordination Project held an event during Engage Week at the University of Strathclyde to bring autism service providers and commissioners together. At that event, they learned more about the Scottish Strategy for Autism and heard a number of ways to get further involved. Following on this event, there was enthusiasm and agreement to create a collaborative of autism providers and commissioners through the University of Strathclyde.

In response to this enthusiasm, a second afternoon workshop was held on August 25, again at the University of Strathclyde. This event was another opportunity for practitioners and purchasers, social care providers and commissioners to network. The day’s presentations focused on service provision.

University of Strathclyde Professor Jean MacLellan opened the day with an overview of the Scottish Strategy for Autism’s ongoing progress and how the event fits with the Strategy’s outcomes. Monica Boyle and Paul MacArthur of KEY & Community Lifestyles presented on service provision and designing physical environments. Jim Taylor, Jim Taylor Knows Autism, then spoke about designing environments for children with autism and how that could be applied in other contexts. Jayne Porter of Autism Network Scotland then presented on awareness raising within staff teams and lead the group in a case study exercise. Jean closed the day with a wrap up and request for ideas for future events. There was agreement from attendees that the Providers and Commissioners Collaborative will continue.

The presentations from the day are posted on the Autism Network Scotland website. For more information about the Collaborative or to get involved, please contact Tracy Wenzl.