Thursday, 2 September 2010

Autism in Edinburgh and Lothians


I thought I'd take a break from my ramblings to talk about a few pieces on autism that come to my attention recently. On my blog, I have a stat counter that measures the traffic through this site. Most of it is incomprehensible gobbledegook but one trend that is happening is readers arriving at my blog by searching autism and Edinburgh as Google keywords. I have to confess myself that information on services for families of autistic kids in Edinburgh are not neat, compact or coherent on the internet. An attempt to find out anything either county wide or in your area takes, hours and quite a lot of effort. If you are a parent of an autistic child, please speak up. I'd love to read your experiences and thoughts. Currently there is no Edinburgh wide branch of the NAS but there is the LAS, The Lothian Autistic Society who run a whole host of playschemes and care for kids with Autism in the Lothians. I'm joining a social skills group with A on a Wednesday which should be really helpful. When kids get to A's age, there really isn't a huge amount of services that they can access.

First up is the Scottish Parliament have put into motion an Autism Bill. The stage this is at is that they are calling for evidence which will hopefully set the bill in motion. The bill is being introduced by Hugh O'Donnell.

Extract
An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision about meeting the needs of persons with
autistic spectrum conditions.
1 Autism strategy
(1) The Scottish Ministers must prepare and publish a document setting out a strategy for
meeting the needs of persons in Scotland with autistic spectrum conditions by 5 improving
the provision of relevant services to such persons by local authorities and NHS bodies.
(2) That document is referred to in this Act as “the autism strategy”.


I was involved in the initial stages rounding up petitions and emailing MSP's with the National Autistic Society (Scotland) as part of their 'We Exist' campaign.


The government has already introduced the autism toolbox, a resource for teachers, school, and health professionals and hopefully the bill will seek to rigorously implement this and make any relevant changes as necessary.

The Autism Toolbox will help everyone involved in delivering education to those with autism by:
  • Giving autism-specific advice aimed at pre-school, primary and secondary school staff to encourage innovative, individualised and creative teaching
  • Examining how education professionals can work in partnership with parents and families to ensure the best possible outcomes for the child
  • Providing schools and education authorities with good practice and exemplars drawn from all over Scotland
  • Giving guidance on the different approaches that can be taken to support individuals with autism - both within and out with the educational setting
  • Sign-posting useful and reliable sources of information and further help, such as publications and key organisations
Here's a link the original PDF as it is no longer accessible through the Executive site. It's a fair chunk of literature but one I think is worth reading to set your mind at ease about what kids with autism (or your kids, if that is the case) are entitled to and what you as a parent of an autistic child is entitled to. There are government publications, leaflets really, on this, but they tend to be in short hand, brightly coloured and insubstantial.

Also, the NAS have issued a questionnaire on the learning and development needs of mainstream health and social care professionals for working with people with autism. It has been commissioned by the Department of Health (DH) and is designed for non-autism specialists.


The survey should take around ten minutes to complete.

Please take a few minutes to complete this, if you meet the criteria below. Your survey responses will be used to develop a draft proposal on learning needs for health and social care professionals. Once we have produced the draft proposal, we will ask for feedback on it before publishing the guidance.

Who should complete this survey:
  • social care commissioners
  • social care providers (employers, managers, professionals and workers at all levels)
  • health service commissioners
  • health service providers (employers, managers, professionals and workers at all levels)
  • informal carers and supporters of people on the autism spectrum
  • people on the autism spectrum
  • professional bodies for health or social care professionals.

Please feel free to pass this information on to friends and family who are in this target audience.

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