Health and social care staff in Scotland are being empowered to better support people with autism during difficult moments throughout the rollercoaster of their lives.
A new education package – called Autism across the Lifespan: Transitions and Change - has been created in collaboration between the autism community and the NHS.
“Transitions and change is difficult for autistic people”
Comprising an animation and an e-learning module, the resources prepare nurses and other care staff to think about how autism may impact individuals and their families at various stages from childhood into adulthood and what they can do to promote resilience.
They are the product of an ongoing partnership between NHS Education for Scotland (NES), Autism Network Scotland (ANS) and people with lived experience of autism in the country.
Speaking at the launch event in Edinburgh today, mental health minister, Clare Haughey, highlighted the importance of staff being equipped with the skills and knowledge to support the 44,133 autistic people in Scotland when they were at their most vulnerable.
She said: “Transitions and change is difficult for autistic people. Tools and resources such as Autism across the Lifespan increase the understanding of autism and how transitions affect them.
“Ultimately we want to ensure autistic people are met with understanding when they access care and support from health and social care services.”
Janine Robinson, principal educator in autism as NES, said the aim of the new training resources was to support staff development and raise awareness of autism.
“The process has ensured that we represent as accurately as possible the lived experience of individuals, their families and carers”
She added: “With an understanding of the core characteristics of autism and consideration of the common transitions and change across the lifespan, services are better prepared to support autistic individuals, their families and carers.”
Ms Robinson said the collaboration with ANS and engagement with the autism community in the development of the training package had been “invaluable”.
“The process has ensured that we represent as accurately as possible the lived experience of individuals, their families and carers alongside evidence of good practice,” she added.
The education package has been created in response to recommendations made in the Scottish Strategy for Autism regarding transitions and change, and the associated learning needs highlighted in the NES Autism Training Framework.
It aims to complement resources already available through the Principles of Good Transitions and the Autism Transitions Supplement produced by the Scottish Transitions Forum and ANS.
Staff working in health, social care and the third sector will be able to access the animation and e-learning module on Turas Learn, NES’s platform for learning and practice support resources.