Director of the Centre for Autism Carol Povey talks about our work to educate and train professionals to diagnose, support, employ and make a difference to the lives of autistic people.

Carol PoveyWhen I speak to autistic adults about what made a difference in their lives, they often describe an inspirational professional, a teacher or employer perhaps, who believed in them, really understood autism and used that knowledge not only to support them as an individual, but to change attitudes and understanding around them.

At The National Autistic Society, we're trying to grow and develop more of these outstanding individuals, wherever they may be. Last year we trained over 4,500 professionals. Drawn from education, social care and health, we know they go back to their schools and services enthused, inspired and armed with strategies to put into practice immediately.   

So much is dependent on timely and accurate diagnosis, yet families still report clinicians and heath professionals who struggle to understand autism. Last year we trained 120 clinicians in diagnostic techniques, using the DISCO assessment framework developed by Dr Lorna Wing and Judy Gould. 

Lorna Wing, opening The Lorna Wing Centre for AutismFrom her unique standpoint as a pioneering parent, clinician and researcher, Lorna always brought enormous wisdom to everything she touched.  Her sad death last year prompted so many to comment that in many, many areas, Lorna said it first.  I always felt honoured to have known her and to have benefited from her insight and vision.

Over 500 schools and services are now registered with Autism Accreditation, all working to improve their practice. Not only does Autism Accreditation set standards of good autism practice, it supports organisations to meet those standards through adviser visits, network opportunities and an online self-assessment tool. 

I am always struck by the willingness of professionals in the autism field to share knowledge, experience and expertise. There is little professional jealousy or cynicism. Network Autism was established four years ago as a community of practice, dependent on the community of professionals to contribute insight, good practice exampled and other content, has now grown to a thriving network of over 7,000 members across the globe

My experience is that autistic people wish to contribute and be a part of their community and to society, and one of the main ways they can do this is through employment. Over the past year, we've trained and supported over 1,000 employers, ensuring that from recruitment onwards, they can they do everything possible to put in place adjustments which help autistic staff to fulfil their potential and contribute towards the businesses success.

We're excited to continue to support professionals in these vital ways in order to help autistic people to lead the lives they choose.

Carol Povey
Director of the Centre for Autism
The National Autistic Society

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