The challenges encountered by all living and working with autism have changed, and the NAS recognises that it also needs to change to meet these challenges. To do this, we have established the Centre for Autism.
The Centre for Autism aims to build capacity in the autism sector, to help innovate and develop good practice and provide a hub for greater collaboration. Its primary role will therefore be to act as an enabler for other organisations (voluntary, public and private) to deliver responsive, high quality services.
The aims of the Centre for Autism are to:
Raise the standard of support and services for people with ASD across the UK and internationally:
- Develop an improved offer for Autism Accreditation to deliver a sought-after service which raises the standard of services for people with autism. It will be based on a model of expert practitioners who gather and distribute best practice, will use a web based, self assessment system, complemented and reinforced by peer review and will be open the international as well as UK market.
- Develop a coordinated training and consultancy service across the organisation offering a broad curriculum of high quality autism training and consultancy utilising a variety of media. This includes training for all professionals working with people with autism including employers, diagnosticians and educationalists.
- Develop a research strategy which develops and disseminates an evidence base around autism practice through collaboration with researchers, people with ASD and other professionals. Where there are areas of need which have not been explored such as the needs of older people with autism and girls and women with autism, we will try to secure funding to meet these needs.
Deliver a range of information, advice, advocacy, training, assessment and diagnosis services to people living with autism:
- We will ensure our Information, Advice and Advocacy Service is able to deliver accurate, trusted information and advice to people with autism and their families at the time, and in the way, they need it. This includes rights-based support such as the Education Rights Service, Community Care Service, Welfare Rights, Parent to Parent and the Helpline.
- Ensure branches are supported and equipped with the skills, resources and information to enable them to provide vital help, advice and support to families in their local area, and contribute to the achievement of the NAS strategic aims.
- Develop a range of support programmes for families, and train, quality-assure and support families to be able to deliver these. Presently these include help! and EarlyBird.
- Ensure diagnosticians have access to high quality training and resources through the development of a network of licensed DISCO trainers.
Provide a hub for a networked autism community, both in the UK and internationally, to facilitate sharing of knowledge and enable better linking of public need to professional expertise:
- Establish a conference programme culminating in an annual 2-day conference for professionals which enables skill development, encourages the sharing of emerging practice and gives an editorial board drawn from people with autism, families and professionals that will support the professionals' conference.
- Develop a web-based community of practice for autism professionals within which a range of special interest groups can be developed. This will provide a forum on which all professionals engaged in working with people with autism add their families will have access to appropriate information, resources and networks. There will be opportunities to share knowledge and be able to access emerging research which underpins practice.
- Develop partnership models which develop expertise within autism-related fields, eg Autism Education Trust, National Autism Partnership for challenging and offending behaviour.