New Developments in Autism Support

Tuesday 9 August 2016

This Autumn, the Richmond Fellowship Scotland is developing an exciting new role of Autism Resource Worker.

People from within the organisation, who take on this role as part of their current job, will become regional advisors to services who support people on the autism spectrum.

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland have both adopted a view that the level of autism training someone should have will vary depending on their role in a community; from autism awareness for school catering staff to expert diagnostic skills for psychologists who are diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder. When you think about the scale of the skills and knowledge in this range it is clear to see that TRFS support staff will need a higher level of autism knowledge and support skills, the more closely they work with an individual with autism. However making sure people with autism have holistic support that will help them fulfil their potential throughout their lives is more complex than just having good autism knowledge.

People with autism are sometimes described as having a ‘spiky profile’ of skills, meaning that they can be very skilled on one area and need a lot of support in another. This also has the implication that one person with autism is very different from another person with autism. What this means is that support staff need a good foundation in autism knowledge, but after that they need to be able to recognise specific profile of the individual they work alongside in order to help them develop through their life. Autism Resource Workers are going to support our staff teams and services to achieve this.

The Autism Resource Workers will be trained to assess the needs of people with autism, alongside being able to pinpoint their skills, so their support can be personalised. In partnership with The Positive Behaviour Support Team, this will involve a huge investment of time and resources from services and indicates how much we think this type of role is needed. The benefits of having regional specialists will be really positive for services. They will bring all the skills and understanding of being current TRFS managers to the role which is far better than someone from outside the organisation delivering training. They will have good knowledge of staff networks in their region and be able to signpost services to local resources, in and outside the organisation that will help.

Alongside personalised assessment of the supported individuals, working with staff teams will be the next step in the practical implementation of this individualised support. Instead of talking in general terms the Autism Resources Workers will be able to train staff in the links between features of autism and the actual steps they need to take alongside the person in their home and community. They will be able to support teams through the implementation of more complicated support plans and the challenges they face.

The hope is that the group of Autism Resource Workers will find the ongoing training involved in this role worthwhile and that it becomes a really enjoyable part of their job. Ultimately we hope this means that the people we support with autism are able to live their lives to the fullest with as much independence and control as possible.

We are keen to get things underway so if you work for The Richmond Fellowship Scotland and are interested in becoming an Autism Resource Worker get in touch to register your interest and receive an application form. The deadline for applications is August 30th.

Contact Ruth Adams, Behaviour Support Advisor for Autism,

For more information: ‘Optimising Outcomes: The NHS Education for Scotland Autism Training Framework’ (2014), The Scottish Government and NHS Education for Scotland

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