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Support for Autism


What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong, developmental condition that affects how a person relates to and communicates with other people, and the way in which they experience the world around them.
Autism is a spectrum condition and may be referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autistic spectrum condition (ASC).

This video explains a little about what autism is and how it affects people: 

Further information about autism can be found by following the links:

How do children get a diagnosis of autism?

Autism is diagnosed by looking at a child or young person’s social communications and interactions to see whether their behaviour, interests, or activities have any restricted or repetitive patterns.

The assessment is carried out by a team of professionals from Health and Education and there are different assessment pathways depending on your child's needs.

What happens during the assessment?

The assessment will take place over time and your child will be observed, so that the professionals carrying out the assessment can see them in social situations.

At the start of the assessment families will be given more information about how it will be completed and when it will be finished.

Once all the parts of the assessment have been completed a report will be written and shared with the child's parents and if appropriate the child's school, nursery or other setting. The assessment will help the relevant people understand and support the child.

Impaired & Social Communication Disorder Pathways

Things that you can do to help yourself

Workshops available

Following an autism diagnosis you will be invited to attend a ‘What do I do now?’ workshop to help you understand this diagnosis better and to think about how to understand and support your child. You will also receive information about further training and support available.

If your child is under five you will be allocated a linked health visitor who will act as a key worker/lead professional and will support you in co-ordinating support.

'What do I do now?' workshop

A two hour 'What do I do now?' workshop is offered to all families at the time of diagnosis. This is a chance for parents to meet other parents to share their experiences, learn about what autism is and isn't, some strategies to support their child and about what is available in the borough to support them including programmes such as EarlyBird.

Note: Parents are expected to attend this session prior to accessing EarlyBird/EarlyBird Plus programmes detailed on the following pages.

The 'What do I do now?' workshops are run four times a year.
Parent workshops are also provided (twice a term) for parents of children with autism; these include sensory needs, promoting positive behaviour, sleep, mealtimes and toileting. Parents choose which workshops they would like to attend. These are provided at a variety of times during the day including some evenings.

Links will soon be available to the training plan so places can be booked.

EarlyBird training

For parents of children aged four and under who are not yet in full time school who have received a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The course will help you understand your child's autism; get yourself into your child's world, make contact, and find ways to develop interaction and communication; and learn how to analyse and understand your child's behaviours and how to use structure, so you can pre-empt and cope with problem behaviours.

Six families attend the course at a time. Two places are allocated per family (we will also offer a place to your child's childminder/ nursery worker). The programme lasts for three months and combines group training sessions with individual home visits, when video feedback is used to help you apply what you've learnt. The commitment is a two and a half hour training session or home visit every week, and ongoing work with your child at home.

EarlyBird Plus training is for parents of children aged between four years and under nine who have received a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The programme addresses the needs of both home and school settings by training parents/carers together with a professional who is working regularly with their child; the aim is that a child will be given consistent support. We work to build both parents' and professionals' confidence and encourage them to problem solve together. Parents are, of course, able to attend the programme without a supporting professional if their school are unable to release a staff member.

EarlyBird Plus uses the established EarlyBird framework of teaching about autism before considering how to develop communication or manage behaviour. The programme consists of eight group sessions, and two home visit weeks. A follow-up session is held three months after the programme.

Healthy Minds training

The earlyBird Healthy Minds programme is a six session parent support programme to help promote good mental health in children with autism. Healthy Minds has been developed in response to evidence which indicated that a high percentage of autistic children are at risk of experiencing mental health problems in adolescence and adulthood. The programme aims to help minimise this risk.

The programme is for parents of children with autism whose child is in key stage 1 or 2, a place is also available for an accompanying professional.

To find out more please contact:

Jaci Smith jsmith3@hillingdon.gov.uk 01895 558171 or complete the form to register your interest.

Other training available

A range of training opportunities are also provided by the voluntary sector (CAAS. HACS & DASH) they include:

  • gender and sexuality,
  • supporting self injury,
  • supporting stress and anxiety,
  • sleep,
  • siblings, avoidant/restrictive eating etc. (merge with training info above)
  • puberty

Links will soon be available to the training plan so places can be booked.

The University of Kent has produced online training around understanding Autism. Find out more here.

Training, support and guidance for educational settings

There is a range of training and support available to nurseries, schools and colleges to enable them to meet the needs of children and young people with autism and particular needs. This includes:

  • SLT support for children attending mainstream schools via a combination of direct intervention and skilling up/ training school staff
  • specialist and accredited training courses to develop the skills of school staff e.g. ELKLAN, PECS, Visual timetables, social stories, comic strip conversations
  • Inclusion Commitment which includes whole school development and support in making schools more autism friendly
  • training to deliver specific interventions such as Attention Hillingdon (running termly)
  • training of school staff and parents/carers in understanding and meeting the needs of CYP with autism e.g. EarlyBird, EarlyBird Plus, Healthy Minds
  • transition pack for students in mainstream schools who are transitioning/being discharged from paediatric SLT
  • some training delivered to schools staff by educational psychologists
  • advice and guidance in TAC/ TAF meetings, EHCP and My Support Plan processes
  • support and training for practitioners to run effective and informative parent workshops
  • Inclusion Network - support and training provided by special schools and SRP’s to mainstream colleagues

Support services that are available

Local support services

The Centre for ADHD and Autism Support (CAAS) supports educates and empowers individuals with ADHD and/or on the autism spectrum, their families and the community. Through raising awareness they change perceptions and break down barriers. They offer a wide range of support services to families across NW London. The Centre is hosting some workshops over the next few months on a variety of issues, find out more here.

HACS is local charity based in the London Borough of Hillingdon providing support for autistic residents and their families. Through provision of specialist Family Support, Training, Recreation and Employability services the aim of the charity is to minimise disability and maximise ability of autistic children, young people and adults. HACS are running a series of workshops throughout April to July 2018, please see their calendar of events for more information.

Disablement Association Hillingdon known more commonly as DASH, was formed in 1984 and is a user-led charity based in Hillingdon, West London. DASH challenges people's perceptions and encourages disabled people of all ages to reach their full potential.

Attention Hillingdon is an exciting and innovative project currently running with over 80 nurseries, playgroups and children's centres within the borough. The intervention supports the development of attention and listening skills, and promotes the development of social communication skills. If you would like to find out more information or to access Attention Hillingdon at a Children's Centre, please contact your local Children's Centre. To find out which Centre is near you, please visit http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/childrenscentres.

Support groups

Friends of EarlyBird is a monthly support group run by parents for other parents. It runs on the third Friday of the month at Colham Manor Children’s Centre, Violet Avenue, Hillingdon, UB8 3PT. For further information call 01895 250211. Children are welcome to come along and access the play facilities including a sensory room. For more information about any of the above please email jsmith3@hillingdon.gov.uk or complete the form through this link to register your interest.

Supporting Autism is a support group for parents whose child is either waiting for or has a diagnosis of autism. The group is run by a parent and experienced staff at Oak Farm Children's Centre. Please contact the centre for more information and to book a place.

Hillingdon Autistic Care and Support hold monthly Autism surgeries. The Autism Surgeries provide an opportunity to speak with a family support worker, find out the latest news at HACS, borrow or return library books, collect or return membership and booking forms and to meet other parents/carers.

The Autism Surgeries are open to all parents and carers who are affected by Autism.

For further information you can email emma@hacs.org.uk or visit their website.

Last reviewed: 12/10/2017

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