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Scottish Autism

Claire Gilfillan recently met with Scottish Autism to discuss their role in enriching the lives of people with autism.

Claire Gilfillan, Digital Development Co-ordintaor, GTC Scotland

Scottish Autism is an organisation dedicated to enriching the lives of people with autism. They are the largest provider of autism-specific services in Scotland and a leading authority for good autism practice. The organisation exists to help those diagnosed with autism to lead full and enriched lives and become valuable members of the community they live in. They also seek to share their knowledge and expertise with parents, carers and other professional in order to promote understanding and the development of skills and strategies needed to provide the best care and support for people with autism.

Scottish Autism is the largest provider of autism –spectrum services in Scotland. With a head office in Alloa and over 900 staff working across the country, they offer a large range of services for people with autism including education, day and vocational opportunities, supported living, outreach, respite and specialist transition support.

Autism Toolbox

Scottish Autism has developed, in partnership with the Scottish Government, supported by Autism Network Scotland the Autism Toolbox. The toolbox is an online resource which aims to support the inclusion of children and young people with an autism spectrum disorder in mainstream education services in Scotland. As well as introducing and describing some of the more common challenges a pupil with autism might face, it provides real life case studies from Scottish schools. The website has been developed by practitioners themselves and in-line with the principles of the Curriculum for Excellence. The website is split up into six themes:

  • Understanding autism - explains what autism is and describes the challenges that people with autism face.
  • Supporting pupils – provides guidance on how to support a pupil with autism in your class as it’s highly likely that all staff will have a pupil with autism in their class at some stage.
  • Whole school planning – provides guidance on how to take a whole school approach to autism to support meaningful inclusion of pupils on the autistic spectrum.
  • Supporting wellbeing – provides information on helping children and young people to develop the knowledge and understanding, capabilities and attributes which they need for social, emotional and physical wellbeing now and in the future.
  • Partnership with families – explains the need for professionals to involve parents to ensure that children and young people with additional support needs fully benefit from school education.
  • Working with others – explains the importance of collaborative working between education authorities and other agencies to develop plans, share strategies and commit resources to ensure that pupils with autism receive support appropriate to their needs.

New Struan School

New Struan School was established in 1977 by Scottish Autism, previously known as The Scottish Society for Autistic Children. The then Struan House School was the first of its kind in Scotland to cater specifically for the needs of people with autism. The school has evolved since then, and is now known as New Struan School and caters for up to 42 pupils with the support of classroom teachers and assistants as well as a Speech and Language Therapist and a School Psychological Consultant.

Autism Advice Line

Scottish Autism run an Autism Advice Line Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4pm, and have a dedicated team of advisors who are trained and have experience in working with people on the autism spectrum. The team deal with hundreds of calls each year and provide a direct first response to families looking for information, advice and support. The team also respond to professional enquiries. They offer advice and information and are also willing to discuss partnership approaches to providing more specific direct support to families.

Transition services

Scottish Autism also provide transition services for young adults. The aim of this service is to assess an individual’s needs and build the skills and strategies required to enable them to move on to the most appropriate and longer term setting. For more information on how to assess transitional support, please visit: http://www.scottishautism.org/our-services/transition-introduction/Transition-How-to-Access/.

Right Click – Online Support

Right Click in an online programme for parents and carer to provide information and support when they need it most. Scottish Autism have drawn on the wealth of experience from across their services, as well as external professionals, to develop videos and a range of support materials and created three programmes:

  • The Young Child programme – This programme is focused on providing support to parents of young and recently diagnosed children and includes topics such as eating, sleeping and toileting.
  • The Teen programme – The teen programme is for parents with teenagers and topics discussed are developing skills for independent living, supporting siblings and talking about relationships.
  • The Adult programme – The adult programme is for those supporting individuals with autism into adulthood and includes topics such as promoting happiness and wellbeing, positive living and relationships and planning for the future.

You can find out more about the Right Click Programmes by visiting, http://www.scottishautism.org/family-and-professional-support/right-click-programme/.

Further information

The Scottish Autism website has a variety of useful advice, guidance and resources available so it’s very much worth a visit. You can find out more about all of the services that Scottish Autism have to offer by visiting, http://www.scottishautism.org/.

If you would like more information on the Autism Toolbox, please contact Moira Park by emailing moira.park@scottishautism.org.