North Yorkshire County Council is stepping up its nationally applauded programme to help people with autism lead more fulfilling lives.
As World Autism Awareness week gets underway (March 27th) the County Council has committed to reviewing and extending its autism accreditation programme which is upheld as a beacon of good practice nationally.
The Council is the first in the country to put so many of its services through the National Autistic Society’s three-year accreditation programme which is designed to improve staff practice and develop a consistent approach to support for people with autism and asperger syndrome.
There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – more than 1 in 100. Autism is a disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people and how they see the world around them so that taking part in everyday family, school, work and social life, can be harder. Some autistic people say the world feels overwhelming and this can cause them considerable anxiety.
As many as 18 of the Council’s health and adult care services have now completed the three-year accreditation training and the aim is to build on this good practice.
In the course of training staff have worked closely with families, employers, the voluntary sector and other professionals and have brought about positive changes for many people with autism who have been referred to the County Council’s services.
Three autism and employment drop-in sessions have been set up across the county and people with autism have been put in touch with specialist counselling services to support them into employment.
One young man has been helped to progress in his employment as a car mechanic, another helped to gain training, work experience and a job in horticulture, another to sign up for an Open University BSc in computing, IT and maths. A young woman who has experienced many years of difficulty relating to others, is now working in a travel agency. In addition staff, have set up a sensory room to help people with autism in one of the Council’s day centres. Staff understanding of one young man’s sensory needs, for example, has meant he has been able to hug members of his family for the first time in his life.
County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration, said:
“This training has had incredibly positive outcomes. Over the course of the three years we have seen the lives of people with autism improve in so many ways and we now intend to build on this good practice.
We are commended by the National Autistic Society for developing our knowledge and so many of our services pro-actively and achieving the most positive outcomes nationally. Accreditation doesn’t come easily and staff members have shown incredible commitment to the process.”
The Council has also appointed over 60 autism champions among its staff who help to ensure that the needs of people with autism are properly understood. Driving the initiative is the fundamental belief that with the right sort of support, all people with autism can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.