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Autism Involvement Group (AIG) – September 2019

AIG meeting held on 24th September 2019


This AIG discussions included:


GP Autism Awareness Survey and CCG Autism Awareness e-learning

The Autism Involvement Group and Autism Partnership Board have had ongoing discussions about autism awareness training, to health and social care staff, to GPs and to the wider public.

It was noted that GPs in Devon have been sent an autism awareness toolkit but there has been no monitoring of the use of that package

That national activity will no doubt set the context for further local activity but, in the mean-time it was agreed that Healthwatch Devon could be commissioned to undertake a simple survey amongst Devon GPs to get a snapshot of how much notice they have taken of the autism awareness toolkit.

One of the actions agreed was to reconvene the working group to review the questions in the Autism Awareness GP survey in the light of points made at AIG.


NHS Devon CCG public autism awareness e-learning

The NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has published a range of information about autism on its public website. This includes with links to local and national training resources, one of which is the ‘Understanding Autism E-Learning Course’. This course has been prepared by staff from the local specialist team for autism in collaboration with people who have autism. It aims to provide an awareness and understanding of what autism is, how it is experienced by individuals and by those who support them. The course should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

It was noted that, like all courses, it would be reviewed and updated and improved at some point and that the AIG discussion would be used to inform future versions of the course.


‘Us Too’ – project to help women stand up to domestic abuse – Association for Real Change (ARC)

As part of the project Association for Real Change (ARC) had done an informal survey at the Blue Light Day, to find out people’s attitudes and knowledge about domestic violence.

As a result of this and other findings two training programmes have been set up: a peer learning course for people with Learning Disabilities and Autism with high support and low support needs to identify when they are in a domestic abuse situation and how to access services; and a course for professionals to help them identify domestic abuse, know what to look out for, to help people to recognise when they are in it a domestic abuse situation and what to do about it. Courses are taught by people with a variety of lived-experiences.

The AIG discussed:

  • Carers and domestic abuse
  • Women and domestic abuse
  • Abuse due to lack of education

Members also gave advice about other organisations who deal with domestic abuse.


Post-diagnostic services discussion – Sophie Holmes

Sophie gave an update on how the plans previously outlined in the Case for Change are progressing.

She reminded AIG that the plans are ambitious for both childrens’ and adults’ services.

Pre-diagnosis support will be addressed by a series of programmes including the Helping Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE) programme, which is being rolled out across Devon, mainly supporting people with longer term conditions with peer support and self-help over six weeks.

For post-diagnostic support the aim is that Devon, Plymouth and Torbay will all develop multi-disciplinary teams to help people and reduce the escalation of needs, which are properly joined up with the other aspects of the mental health, health and social care system in those three local authority areas.

Currently there are some good enabling services, but work is still needed with residential services and other accommodation services to manage risk and help people sustain their tenancy or place in a care home.

New clinical teams should be put in place during 2020 and they will also have a role in helping GPs further understand autism and the reasonable adjustments needed within the wider system.

Sophie also referred to ongoing work with the housing departments in the 8 District Councils to ensure their strategies and provision take autism properly into account.

Issues covered by the AIG discussion included:

  • Families of autistic people becoming isolated and distressed, carers need to be identified.
  • Adults who have been diagnosed later in life who have been overlooked and are not easily identified
  • Need for a joined-up coordinator to extend support if necessary
  • A need for a pre and post-diagnostic discussion group to be set up
  • Children who are carers
  • GP surgeries already working beyond their means.

It was noted that the Autism Involvement Group has a role to play in informing implementation of the Case for Change. It was further noted that for that influence to be meaningful those aspects of the Case most that are most relevant discussion and influencing must be identified. It also noted that most issues will be best discussed in working groups representing those people most affected by the proposals, which would then report back to AIG. must be determined which issues require working groups with relevant members and which could be whole Group topics.