We currently support many people who have autism. We use the term “autism” as an umbrella term covering Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism (HFA) and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), in line with the latest diagnostic guidelines.
To ensure we have a consistent approach across Aspirations our Autism Lead has devised an Aspirations Autism Strategy. This strategy ensures we are up to date with the National agenda on autism. ‘Think Autism’ (2014) is the latest English strategy building upon the themes of ‘Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives’ (2010). This generated statutory guidance published in March 2015. Through our Aspirations Autism Strategy we are committed to meeting and indeed going beyond this statutory guidance.
At the heart of our Aspirations Autism Strategy is staff training across three levels, starting with specialised training at induction when new staff begin working with us, progressing to external accreditation at the highest level. Our training is not just theoretical. By teaching staff the SPELL framework we give them practical skills to improve their daily professional practice. SPELL was developed by the National Autistic Society as a way to support children and adults on the spectrum. SPELL stands for Structure, Positive approaches and expectations, Empathy, Low arousal and Links. Our training takes staff through each element of SPELL, using paper-based exercises, video clips and group discussion to cement this effective way of working. To complete their training staff must attend a conference style day where they are inspired by speakers from outside the organisation, such as family members, external health professionals and people with autism themselves. To compliment this training we have also developed a specialist booklet of autism resources which is accessible to all our staff teams, where they can find guidance on topics such as creating effective social stories and why structure is so important for many people with autism.
Our unique Autism Profiles (APs) form the core of our specialist support planning for people with autism. We gather detailed information about each person in relation to the four areas of autism:
- Social Interaction
- Sensory filtering
Using this information we then ensure our support is centred on the person and the impact of their autism. We are committed to moving people forward and enriching people’s lives, so the second part of our AP is focused on learning new skills and achieving outcomes. Staff support people to breakdown tasks and objectives into manageable steps, with an in-depth understanding of their autism and what that means in terms of reaching their goals.
Key to our training and to our APs is working with the people who are important to the person, whether that is families, friends or other professionals. In this way the SPELL framework compliments and enhances the AP. As an organisation Aspirations is committed to the most collaborative approach.
Here is my story about Amelie. She was introduced to me as a wonderfully unique and caring woman, who loves being busy and adores having glass or 2 of coca cola.
As a young child, Amelie was diagnosed with autism and spent her childhood and early adulthood in the arms of a loving Mum and Dad. Amelie has a good relationship with her Mum and Dad. Sadly, a few years ago, Amelie’s Dad passed away and she went to live in a residential care setting living with 6 other people.
After a short period of time living there and coping with her father’s death, Amelie’s residential home was about to change. Amelie moved to her new home living with just one other person that she knows and her own support team. These changes in Amelie’s life have had a massive impact on Amelie and in the behaviours she is able to use to communicate with her new staff team.