Congratulations to all the winners of the 2014 Autism Professionals Awards.
Their excellent work is an inspiration to all and we are so pleased we can now share good practice for the benefit of everybody involved in autism. The winners will present their work to the hundreds of delegates at next year’s National Autistic Society’s Professional Conference. We look forward to hearing all about their work.
Axcis Education Recruitment is the foremost specialist supplier of quality special educational needs (SEN) staffing solutions in the UK. Our commitment to working with government and professional partners plus our duty of care, ensures that, despite wide-ranging changes in education, we can have a positive effect on the lives of the young people with SEND we ultimately support. We appreciate these young people are some of the most vulnerable in our education system and require inclusive nurture to allow them to achieve to the very best of their ability.
Nua Healthcare offers Residential, Respite, Day and Community Outreach services to both adults and children who presents with an Intellectual Disability, Autistic Spectrum, Acquired Brain Injury and Mental Health. Services are delivered to the highest standard, and are individualised and person centred.
Network Autism is a place where professionals can come together, open up new channels of information and share good practice.
Established by The National Autistic Society (NAS) and its affiliated local societies, with support from the Department of Health, Autism Accreditation has been the foundation upon which much of the successful expansion of quality services for people with autism has been built.
Winner: Bozena Marczyk
It’s difficult to put into so few words why Bozena has been such an important part of so many people’s lives but here goes…..
Bozena began teaching children with Autism in 1977, there were many “Blue Peter” moments, she would spend hours making resources to support her teaching ideas. Within the classroom Bozena developed ways of teaching that would amaze, her resources were phenomenal and every lesson was practical and promoted “Life Skills”.
In the early 90’s Bozena worked closely with ASDAN, developing activity based programmes that would go on to be accredited in areas such as Life Skills, Developing Independence, Citizenship, The World of Work, and many more. Bozena was also an ASDAN moderator and trainer, she delivered training and visited schools up and down the country, supporting staff and accrediting work whenever possible, all this while having her own post 16 class and being deputy head of an ASD school. There are thousands of pupils who would have left school without any formal qualifications and Bozena played a major role in this. Read more...
This individual has not only worked creatively with a wide range of individuals to help them meet their potential, she has also raised awareness of good practice internationally and has supported parents and her staff. Her work is holistic, with broad reach and clear positive results for so many individuals in so many ways. Although officially retired, her impact lives on.
Winner: Rita Jordan
Rita Jordan is an inspirational and highly respected academic and practitioner with a deep commitment to making the world a better place for people with autism. For 35 years, she has worked tirelessly to develop theory, research and write about educational practice and address the needs of individuals with autism. She was at the forefront of establishing the largest course in autism education in the world and has published numerous papers, reports and books. Rita’s work has transformed autism education in this country. Read more...
Rita has touched the lives of so many around the world and has been a major influence on the education of children and young people with autism in the UK particularly. She stands out as the person who has been the most influential in the field of autism over 35 years. There can be few who have not heard her or read her books and been influenced to improve their practice in terms of educating those who are on the autism spectrum.
Winner: Autism Support Team, Newcastle College Learning Support Service
Newcastle College’s Autism Support Team currently supports 165 learners. The team develops innovative and creative provision which creates an inclusive learning environment. From transition planning, personal and learning needs assessments, to training for staff and students, the team has developed a range of specialist facilities and resources to provide a high quality support service. Funded through statutory additional learning support funding, Newcastle College has developed a specialist service which is possibly one of the biggest providers of autism support in mainstream education. Read more...
They have showed how to create an environment and the support necessary to maximise the social and educational growth of the young people with mainstream college. Developing a transition package to ease the transfer from school to college life. Over 5 years the number of student with autism who are supported has increased from 19 to 165, a figure which demonstrates how highly the provision is valued.
Winner: NAS Autism and Ageing Project
Great strides have been taken in autism awareness over the past fifty years but myths about the condition still persist. One such myth is that autism is a condition that affects only children. The NAS Autism and Ageing project was set up to challenge this particular myth and to explore the needs of adults with autism as they mature.
Over the course of the project, the team has developed groundbreaking resources for people on with autism and professionals; raised awareness on a national and local level of the hitherto unrecognised needs of older adults, and allowed best practice to be shared.
Since the launch of the resource book on the 16th October 2013, over 275 copies have been sold and distributed to professionals from a broad range of sectors including primary health care, social care and metal health. Produced by experts in the field, it contains information and ideas on a range of issues from, looking at how autism may impact on ageing generally to the impact of co-existing conditions, activities for older people with autism and adaptations and ideas for using developing technologies such as ‘apps’. It has a dedicated section on end of life care for older people with autism, and an in-depth section looking at legal ethical and practical issues related to making decisions. Read more...
The judges commented that the knowledge gained from this project will have wide reaching implications in our response to the needs of an aging autism population. The legacy aspect of the project makes it unique among the nominations.
Winner: Midlands Psychology
Midlands Psychology is a social enterprise set up by Angela Southall, a clinical psychologist with a strong belief in offering evidence-based psychological approaches within a social context. In 2009 she took the brave step of leaving her job in an FT and setting up a not for profit Community Interest Company, risking her own finances, as a way of pursuing this goal. In 2010 she bid for and won the NHS contract to provide children’s autism services to South Staffordshire, previously provided by a large FT. Parents were very dissatisfied with the previous service provider, which had a three year waiting list and no aftercare. When the service moved to Midlands Psychology CIC in 2010 it was redesigned with service users at its heart. Now, productivity has increased by over 500%. All children are seen within 8 weeks of referral and once a diagnosis of autism has been made there is open access to a range of specialist therapy, interventions and support up to the age of 19. All outcomes are routinely measured and statistical analysis of robust outcome measures used before and after interventions show real improvements in communication skills and emotions, and decreases in reported problem behaviours in children who take part. Staff are happier, with sickness levels of 1-2% compared to NHS levels of over 5%. Read more...
The judges were particularly impressed with how efficiently a high quality service can be delivered with creativity and collaboration. This service clearly has a significant impact to very many people. It is an innovative way of providing services on behalf of the NHS with good use of resources.
Winner: Midlands Psychology
A small social enterprise set up by individual social entrepreneur, Angela Southall, Midlands Psychology CIC epitomises the “Big Society” vision. As a vehicle to enable innovative, efficient service delivery Midlands Psychology is a triumph. It was the first such organisation to win a contract for delivery of an NHS service to diagnose and treat children with autism. As such it is unique. With a low cost base, no bureaucracy and minimal waste all funding is used directly for the benefit of families affected by autism, with profits re-invested to improve local resources and facilities. The organisational structure enables staff to achieve things deemed “too difficult” in traditional NHS mental health settings, such as cost per case, and robust data and outcome measurements.
Before Midlands Psychology took on the service in 2010 there was a 3 year NHS waiting list of 277 children for diagnosis, and very little aftercare. Now, despite a 500% increase in referrals, there is no waiting list and 'open access' until the age of 19 for those diagnosed. Services are tailored to the needs of families, who have a genuine and meaningful say in what happens throughout the organisation. Outcomes are routinely monitored, and there is a culture of transparency. Midlands Psychology is living proof that you can do things differently and that ‘community’ does not have to mean ‘compromise’. Read more...
The judges felt that this project had evidently been very effective in improving diagnosis, assessment and services for children and families. "We hear so often about diagnostic services with long waiting lists and no post diagnostic support, so to have a service that has overcome those problems should be noted and held up as an example.” There was significant demonstration of impact and clear evidence of a broad range of supports for families.
Winner: Kingwood with the Helen Hamlyn Centre, Kingwood Trust
Kingwood, which specialises in support for adults with autism, has worked with the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art to deliver a completely new approach to housing design for people with autism. This encompasses buildings, interiors and outdoor spaces, addressing sensation, perception, refuge and empowerment. With practical guidelines now available to all providers of housing and support, we believe that this is an incredibly important new innovation for people with autism. Read more...
This nomination illustrates how people on the spectrum who are minimally verbal or non verbal can contribute to decisions and the impact this has on people's lives. The team looked at aspects of sensation, perception, refuge, empowerment and special interest from potential users.
Winner: Scottish Autism, The Tree and the Abbey Production
A group of talented individuals with autism from Scottish Autism’s service in Fife, put on two fantastic performances at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Tree and the Abbey is thought to have been the first play at the Festival where the majority of the cast have autism. Written and directed by Autism Practitioner, Scott Daly, the play tells the social history of Fife narrated by a tree which stands in the grounds of Dunfermline Abbey. It features a range of characters from the community and revitalises a number of tragic and enriching events from Fife’s history.
After performing a shorter version of the play in front of families and friends, it was the suggestion of a service user to take the show to the Festival. The Director, Scott was very creative in the way he developed the play. Unlike conventional scripts where individuals take on the characteristics of the part, Scott enabled individuals to use their own experience to create characters they could identify with. He also used a whole team approach involving staff and service users in everything from painting stage sets, to playing musical instruments. Crucially, all the key roles were performed by individuals with autism with staff in supporting roles. Read more...
The judges agreed this was an innovative use of drama therapy; The project involves creativity but also raises awareness about autism and the possibilities for people on the spectrum.
Winner: Lincolnshire Pathfinder Social Communication Team, Lincolnshire County Council
Lincolnshire Pathfinder Social Communication Outreach Team was formed in 2011 with Pathfinder funding from Lincolnshire County Council. Its purpose is to create a network of locality based providers offering a specialist support service for children and young people (CYP) aged 3-19 and adults supporting them. The service covers 2,646 square miles; 311 Primary Schools, 48 Secondary Schools [including 14 Grammar Schools,] 5 Nursery Schools and 21 Special Schools Pathfinder work with and support other services including health, social care and the voluntary sector.
Pathfinder is made up of staff from specialist schools and educational support services. All staff have additional accredited autism qualifications and are based in their own schools or service, with part of their role being for the Pathfinder Team. This allows for balanced provision of practical work in educational settings and realistic support work based on best practice principles. The remit for Pathfinder is to empower schools by providing support to individual CYPs; specialist training and advice to schools and settings and telephone/email Helpline advice for schools, parents and older students The team also organise and deliver training packages including EarlyBird and Elklan. Read more...
This was a practical implementation of strategies quality mark integration. They demonstrated impressive numbers of people and services supported in a difficult geographical area.