Autism and Schools Project – Help us shape this work in Shropshire
This project started in the North East region and was developed in response to the fact that increasing number of young people with autism (without a learning disability) were facing mental health breakdown and facing hospital admission. Parent Carer Forums in the North East region worked with local Transforming Care leaders and identified that a combination of difficulties and challenges which frequently started in school (often a mainstream setting) and struggles to access quality support, resulted in escalating need and eventually crisis.
Parent carers told the project that “there were too many missed opportunities” to help their child and that small issues were left to become major problems, which damaged their children’s wellbeing. One parent carer told the project that ““Lots of people knew that my daughter wasn’t coping but nobody did anything.”
The Autism and Schools project aimed to address this situation buy supporting schools to ensure that they provided positive environments for students with Autism. It involved whole school change and those school who participated committed to reviewing behaviour policies and to considering in detail how the school environment worked for Autistic student. This meant thinking about improving communication, responding to sensory issues and considering how reasonable adjustments could be put in place to meet the needs of Autistic pupils. Local Parent Carer Forums also provided support for parent carers by creating school based mini SEND forums, bringing parent carers together so they could benefit from peer support, providing information about local services and providing opportunities for parent carers to work with the senior school leaders to co-produce solutions to any issue identified. You can find out more about the project in the evaluation documents on the links below.
The project was really well received by families and schools and positive results were seen in terms of families feeling better supported and a reduction in exclusions for Autistic students. The success of the project in the North East has lead to a national roll out of the approach, with each region in England being provided with funding via NHS England, to trial the approach. Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin CCG has been successful in securing funding to deliver the project in the West Midlands region, working alongside Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent CCG’s. We are currently finalising which schools will be participating in the project and bringing people together to develop and deliver the project locally.
In Shropshire PACC will be leading on developing school based mini SEND forums and ensuring that the voices of children and young people and their parent carers inform how the project is delivered in Shropshire. We would like to bring together any parent carers who are interested in supporting this project, to create a reference group to support co-production to happen. We also are keen to hear from families of Autistic young people about their experience at school and what things need to change to improve that experience? We have created a short survey to collect this information https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RQGH6Y2
If you have any questions about the Autism and School project in Shropshire or would like to join the reference group for this work please email email@example.com or ring Sarah on 07398 120311
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