There are many organisations across England that are already providing autism awareness training and have been working hard to develop this type of training within their own organisation/authority.

The Department of Health commissioned us to look at what support authorities and providers across England may need in implementing the autism strategy.

Here we detail some of the examples of autism awareness training which currently exist. 

To find service providers near you who may be able to provide autism awareness training, visit www.autismdirectory.org.uk.

Education and Services for People with Autism (ESPA)

Education and Services for People with Autism (ESPA) provides specialist services for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related conditions. As part of their training programme, they offer a one-day awareness training course.

The training is delivered to parent groups, charities, local authorities, NHS staff, Connexions staff and residential service providers. ESPA also delivers bespoke awareness training and development to local authorities and university staff.

To find out more about ESPA's current training courses, visit www.espa.org.uk.

Autism Hampshire (formerly Hampshire Autistic Society)

Autism Hampshire offers help and advice to people on the autism spectrum, their carers and professionals across the South of England. They offer a range of training courses on autism awareness.

Autism Hampshire has worked with Hampshire County Council to deliver its 'Awareness of Autism and Asperger Syndrome' training to all staff working in adult care in Hampshire.

Staff have also provided emergency services training, working with the police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services. In addition to this, through the Criminal Justice Autism Group, training, outreach and briefings have been delivered to the police, Police Authority (including independent custody advisors and appropriate adults), Her Majesty's Court Services (including magistrates), legal services (eg duty solicitors), youth offending teams (eg civil enforcement ASBO teams and wardens), Her Majesty's Prison Winchester and probation services (including Community Payback teams).

To find out more about Autism Hampshire's current training courses, visit www.autismhampshire.org.uk.

The National Autistic Society

The National Autistic Society provides practical learning and development solutions for local authorities, housing associations, and residential homes and schools. We also partner with major employers to train a wide range of professional workers and advisers within the criminal justice, education and health services.

Built on our international reputation for being a leading authority in the world of autism,  our training and consultancy solutions reflect our experience and evidence base of research and practice, reinforced by feedback from people with autism, their carers and families.

We work in close partnership with a number of leading UK universities to offer fully accredited undergraduate and postgraduate courses and professional qualifications.

Find out more about specialist training and learning services provided by the NAS here.

Redbridge Council

After the publication of the 2010 autism strategy, Redbridge’s Learning and Development Co-ordinator conducted an analysis of current autism training provision in Redbridge and neighbouring boroughs.

Feedback from three parent and carer focus groups, local authority and Jobcentre plus staff, the Met police and local voluntary organisations, identified a need for both general awareness training and more specialist training provision for priority groups.

As Redbridge’s Learning and Development Co-ordinator has personal experience of autism and their in-house learning disability trainer is an experienced autism diagnostician, it was decided that they had capacity to provide training courses in-house.

The following courses were included in Redbridge’s 2012-13 autism training programme:

  • Asperger syndrome: what you need to know; one day, 16 staff attended
  • Autism: basic awareness; half-day (one course per month between September and March), 200 staff attended
  • Autism: what you need to know; one day, 16 staff attended
  • Autism: stress management for carers; one day, 17 staff attended
  • Autism: understanding difficult behaviours; one day, 15 staff attended including two from the Metropolitan Police. The importance of autism training has now been taken back to Safer Communities Team by these Met Police staff
  • Four sessions delivered on site to 47 frontline staff at Jobcentre Plus. Jobcentre Plus has now requested training for a further 250 staff
  • One day delivered to GPs, in partnership with North East London Foundation Trust; 200 GPs attended.

 

Surrey County Council

In Surrey, the local authority’s Autism Lead set up autism training as part of the Adult Social Care Commissioning team. The aim was to develop local expertise, train people to cascade training to their colleagues, and improve practice in supporting people with autism.

Any service supporting anyone with autism in the county was invited to nominate a staff member as their ‘autism champion’. These autism champions received autism training based on The National Autistic Society’s SPELL framework, which they then cascaded down to colleagues. Each champion was then given a mentor who supported them with their ongoing learning, and who they are able to contact for advice and guidance.

Within this model, staff are expected to incorporate the training into their everyday working practices, helping to embed good autism practice in their teams, and with the goal of making reasonable adjustments to local services as well as to individual work with people on the autism spectrum. Autism champions meet regularly with their mentors to report back on how training has been applied in the workplace, and to discuss issues that have arisen in implementing approaches in practice.

The autism champion training scheme successfully brings together staff from health, social care, education, voluntary and private sector services. Autism champions include staff employed as support workers in residential, day and supported living services, job coaches in supported employment, college and university staff, first line managers and care managers.

The autism champions scheme is a cost-effective way of disseminating learning amongst a range of staff.