A lack in understanding of autism can lead to a variety of problems, from inappropriate responses to poor services and provision. Developing an awareness of autism is therefore vital in building a better future for people with autism.

The 2010 autism strategy recognises the importance of training and looks to improve both autism awareness and the development of more specialist training. The Department of Health has invested £500,000 in the development of training for health and social care staff, commissioning the following projects:

  1. Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych)
    The aim of the RCPsych project is to produce training materials for psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals. The materials comprise a series of videos of diagnostic interviews with adults with Asperger syndrome and with people who know them well, eg parents, carers, etc. The video clips highlight the common impairments found in adults with Asperger syndrome. Access to the training resource is restricted to psychiatrists and other healthcare specialists for training purposes only.
  2. The National Autistic Society (NAS)
    The aim of the NAS project is to identify the key issues affecting service providers and commissioners in implementing the autism strategy, and to develop an online resource to support them in doing so.
  3. The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)
    The aim of the SCIE project is to improve understanding of autism among social care professionals. They have produced a guide, Improving access to social care for adults with autism, which aims to provide social workers and social care workers with information on how they can understand people with autism and tailor services to their specific needs. Read the guide on the SCIE website. SCIE have also produced videos about autism, looking at how professionals can better support people with autism and the experiences of two people with autism. Watch the videos on the SCIE website.
  4. British Psychological Society (BPS)
    The Society has developed a series of e-learning modules to raise awareness of adult autism. Delivered through the BPS Learning Centre, the modules appeal to a range of learners, including members of the public. The modules concentrate on raising awareness, delivering knowledge and understanding from introductory to specialist levels. The three e-learning modules are: Building awareness of adult autism, supporting adults with autism and working with adults with autism. The Society worked in partnership with psychologists with expertise in autism and an e-learning provider to produce and deliver the modules. The first two modules are freely available to both members and non-members of the Society and the third is be aimed principally at psychologists and other professionals working in the field. To find out more, please contact The BPS Learning Centre on 0116 252 9925 or learningcentre@bps.org.uk or visit the BPS website.
  5. Oxford University
    This project builds upon Oxford University's previous research which explored the experiences of people with autism and parents. It looks specifically at the experience of siblings (aged 16+) and grandparents. Visit the HealthTalkOnline website.
  6. Skills for Health/Skills for Care
    Skills for Health and Skills for Care worked with the NAS to provide a framework to guide the training of generic/mainstream health and social care staff about autism. The project included widespread consultation with people on the autism spectrum, families/carers (informal), and commissioners, employers, managers and staff at all levels in health and social care. Many professional bodies were involved in promoting the consultation. The resulting framework includes guidance on training content, methods of delivery and defining priority learning needs for the wide variety of different job roles across health and social care organisations. The list then informed the development of units for the QCF.
  7. Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
    The Department of Health have funded two RCN projects. The first is a poster on ten essential bullet points that people should consider when dealing with people with autism. The poster was distributed to a variety of stakeholders. Download the poster here. The second project is an educational guide for nurses on the autism strategy and how to implement it in practice. Visit the RCN website.
  8. Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
    The RCGP has developed an e-learning course for general practitioners and other primary care professionals, aimed at improving professional standards relating to the care of people with autism and their families. It consists of four sessions focusing on improving the understanding of autism among frontline health professionals; improving access to early and accurate diagnosis; improving post-diagnostic support for individuals, carers and families and the management of transition; improving data collection and commissioning of services; and making primary healthcare settings more accessible. The RCGP worked with DIPEx, a primary care research charity, in order to produce a patient experience-centred e-learning package. Access to the training resource is restricted to individuals registered with the RCGP. Find out more.