Collaborative event focuses on complex care

NACP Event 1Following on the success of their first event in January, the National Autism Co-ordination Project (NACP) held a second event for local leads working on autism plans and strategies. On April 29, leads from local authorities and NHS joined up at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow for an Autism Strategy Collaborative Business Meeting and Development Workshop.  Based on feedback from the first event, the April meeting focused on complex care and out-of-area placements.  A full recap of the day, including presentations, can be found on the Autism Network Scotland website.

The Collaborative, established at the January meeting, 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.  During the wrap up at the end of the day, it was noted that people are starting to feel “joined up” and that the Collaborative is key in accessing creative solutions to complicated issues in local authorities across Scotland.

The next event, scheduled to take place on September 25, will focus on transitions. Working Group 2 is organising the programme for the day with input from the NACP team.  More information about the next Collaborative event will be released in the coming weeks; please contact Tracy Wenzl for further information.




NACP partners with local authorities

NACP Progress 1The National Autism Co-ordination Project continues to work with areas which do not have a draft or finalised autism strategy.  Most plans have now been submitted, and the team is working in partnership with several areas to support them in bringing their drafts into final versions. Submitted plans can be viewed here.

The team has been working in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland (NES) on the roll out of the Autism Training Framework and recently published Training Plan.  NES has presented at several recent joint events and a range of outreach visits around the country are being planned.

The team is also increasingly working with integration shadow boards, tasked with bringing health and social work together.

Finally, the team is working in partnership with Julie Haslett, a Joint Improvement Team associate, who has been appointed by Scottish Government to support the One Stop Shops’ sustainability.  The team will be meeting with her soon to discuss synergies with the National Co-ordination work.





Key messages from Working Groups

Based on feedback received at the Listening to Community event, we have started posting summaries alongside the full minutes from each Governance and Working Group meeting on the Strategy website.  These summaries simply contain the key messages from the meeting, the action points from the previous meeting and what’s been done, and the new action points.

We’d love to know if these summary documents are helpful; please contact us to let us know what you think!

Key Messages

Governance Group

June 16 - The One Stop Shop evaluation report will be published soon. The partnership of the heads of Autism Initiatives Scotland, National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism wrote the foreword and will write a further description of what a One Stop Shop is and does to sit alongside the report.  The Governance Group remains keen to see the outcomes from the Autism Development Fund projects, and Autism Network Scotland will liaise with The Scottish Government to see how they can support efforts to complete the evaluation of these projects, so that examples of good practice can be recognised and publicised. 

A recent conference in Perth was attended by autistic people, parents and carers. The feedback from this event was that people wanted to be more involved with the Scottish Strategy for Autism and wanted more events in their local areas.  The conference planning team wants to involve local authorities and communities in planning their own events so that people can bring their concerns and suggestions forward.  This was recognised as a valuable and important piece of work towards involving the autism community in the Strategy.

The National Autism Co-ordination Project is continuing to work with local autism leads on their autism plans and strategies.  Almost all of the local authorities have now submitted plans or strategies and are starting to implement them.  They have held a second event for local leads, this one focussed on out of area placements and complex care.  They also held an event for service providers and commissioners, and that group was keen to be involved in further collaboration with each other.

Autism Network Scotland has recently visited Shetland to support the implementation of their autism strategy.  They hosted the first ever conference in Scotland focussed on the needs and expectations of women and girls with autism. The Network also enhanced the profile of autism at the University of Strathclyde through participation in Engage Week.

Working Group 1

Goal: Access to integrated service provision across the lifespan to address the multi-dimensional aspects of autism

June 4 - Working Group 1 has reviewed their work plan and have asked that their role and remit be clarified by the Governance Group.The broad remit of the Group has led to questions on what the Group is expected to undertake.

The Group would also like to improve joined up working with the other Working Groups. To this end, the chairs of the Working Groups are to meet with Scottish Government and Autism Network Scotland representatives in August.

Working Group 2

Goal: Access to appropriate transition planning across the lifespan

May 7 - Working Group 2 is in the process of defining a work plan, based on the group’s priority plan, that will guide their actions going forward.  This work plan will be finalised soon so that it can be presented at the next Governance Group meeting on June 16. The group plans to present both big picture, aspirational goals alongside specific and achievable first steps that can be taken now.

The group has been invited to participate in the National Autism Co-ordination Project’s next Collaborative meeting with local leads working on autism strategies and plans.  The topic for the next meeting will be transitions, and the group will further discuss the details of their involvement in their July meeting.

Working Group 3

Goal: Consistent adoption of good practice guidance in key areas of education, health and social care across all local authority areas

April 15 - Working Group 3 would like to continue to pursue the idea of a Scottish research-focused edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The group would also like to continue pursuing the idea of a good autism practice festival, where good examples from across Scotland could be shared, and would like to do this in connection with the 4th Annual Conference on the Scottish Strategy for Autism, tentatively scheduled for November 2015.

The group is keen to see two key pieces of work; the final report from the Action on Autism Research Series, and the outcomes from the Autism Development Fund funded projects. The group plans to launch a Knowledge Network on the Autism Network Scotland and is currently working to develop this. The Knowledge Network will be a place where researchers and practitioners can share examples of good practice and discuss it with each other.  It is hoped that this could be formally launched at the November conference.

Working Group 4

Goal: Capacity and awareness building in mainstream services to ensure people with autism are met with recognition and understanding of autism

June 9 - Working Group 4 would like to see more mentoring and sharing of autism experience across health, education and social work. They are exploring the best ways to accomplish this. 

One idea is to improve upon current teacher training.  Another idea is to look at local authorities who have successful programmes and use these as a model for other areas.  Still another idea is to find ways to free up some time for people working in education and health with expertise in autism to share what they know with their colleagues.

“Engage” with Strathclyde event a success

Engage 1Autism Network Scotland and the National Autism Co-ordination Project hosted a successful event for service providers and commissioners during Engage with Strathclyde week, May 5-8. The event was an interactive afternoon session to allow attendees to learn more about the Scottish Strategy for Autism, the role of NHS Education for Scotland, and explore their potential involvement in its implementation. It was designed to be an opportunity for practitioners, purchasers, social care providers and local authority commissioners to network with each other.  A recap of the event and presentations from the day can be found on the Autism Network Scotland website.

There was interest in further events bringing commissioners and service providers together, with attendees indicating they’d like more opportunity to network with each other and discuss topics more in-depth.  To that end, Autism Network Scotland and the National Autism Co-ordination Project will be hosting another event on August 25 to encourage further networking and collaboration. More details will be announced soon; for more information, please contact Tracy Wenzl.




Autistic Pride Day celebrated on June 18

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shows her support for the autistic community


Autistic Pride Day, a celebration of autistic people as part of the natural neurodiversity of humanity, was celebrated on June 18. Autistic Pride is about coming together and rejecting negativity. The day promotes the idea that autistic people of all kinds are all valuable and should be celebrated for who they are.

Kabie Brook, co-founder of ARGH (Autism Rights Group Highland) says, “the most important thing to note about the day is that it is an autistic community event: it originated from and is still led by autistic people ourselves. It is a day of celebration and positivity, and is marked by autistic people and families all over the world. There is no central organisation in control unlike some awareness days; the day is owned by community.” Read Kabie's full article on Autistic Pride Day below.

In a show of support for the autistic community, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon signed artwork created by an ARGH member specifically for the occasion.  ARGH further marked the day with a celebration in Inverness on June 21, with arts and crafts, music and a picnic in a local park.  There they had another specially created piece of artwork for participants to sign.  Kabie notes that the celebration was a way of “warmly welcoming families and the wider community to celebrate with us… very much led by us.” To learn more about the event and see pictures from the day, please visit the ARGH website.


Autistic Pride Day - A Day of Celebration

by Kabie Brook, Autism Rights Group Highland

Autistic Pride Day is celebrated on June 18th each year. It was first celebrated in 2005 by a group called 'Aspies for Freedom', an online group no longer in existence.

The day quickly became a whole community global event with Autistic people across the world choosing to celebrate in all kinds of ways. It is still celebrated widely online including blog sites, Twitter and Facebook. The day is also traditionally linked to outdoors events, all types of arts and crafts, music and fun; an inclusive celebration of diversity - neurodiversity. Some people will celebrate quietly at home, go for a walk or have their own family event, maybe a picnic in the park. There are also larger events organised by local communities, this year the organisation I belong to: ARGH, will be marking the day with an open community outdoors event with arts and crafts, information sharing and Autistic speakers: a gathering of Autistic people to celebrate with our families and others. 

The most important thing to note about the day is that it is an Autistic community event: it originated from and is still led by Autistic people ourselves. It is a day of celebration and positivity, and is marked by Autistic people and families all over the world: there is no central organisation in control unlike some awareness days; the day is owned by community.

By Autistic people and for Autistic people, warmly welcoming families and the wider community to celebrate with us but very much led by us.

That means that this is not a day for the larger charities or organisations to promote themselves, it is not a day for them to fundraise or stifle Autistic people's expressions. It is a day for boosting and supporting Autistic people. A day we own, a day where we will hear positive stories instead of pity.

Everyone has the right to be proud of who they are but often Autistic people are denied this right from an early age, people want to change us, to 'cure' us, to make us 'indistinguishable'. Autistic Pride is an antidote to this: a reminder to everyone that all Autistic people are valuable and have the right to live a life that gives them joy. This is not about rejecting support, this is about wanting to be our true selves and to be supported to be successfulAutistic people rather than to be viewed as broken nonautistic people, recognising that all Autistic people have potential, that we are all part of a neurodiverse world and that is a good thing.

The symbol for the day is an infinity symbol in spectrum colours: to represent diversity with infinite variations and infinite possibilities.

So, on June 18th please take the time to remember the meaning and ethos behind Autistic Pride Day and think about how you can work with us to make sure that every Autistic child and Adult never has to feel ashamed of their own natural state - how you can be a good ally and how we can all work together to celebrate neurodiversity all year round.