Posts in Category: COVID-19 (Autism - Digital)

Autism Leads Covid-19 (All Wales) 

There are currently 29 Autism Leads in Local Authorities across Wales which forms a network of shared practice and engagement. Throughout Covid-19, the network has continued to support and engage with their local autistic communities. Some examples of their innovative practice:

  • Continued one-to-one ‘virtual’ support of vulnerable adults, or those with very high needs in Blaenau Gwent.
  • Zoom “coffee mornings” with autistic adults in Monmouthshire.
  • A virtual VE Day party to keep the community connected in Wrexham.
  • Storybooks explaining Covid-19 to young children, including autistic children provided in Flintshire.
  • A “card” developed to provide autistic people with improved communication mechanisms with emergency services during lockdown in Denbighshire.
  • A virtual “forum” for young autistic adults developing skills for life in Cardiff & Vale.
  • A thorough “lessons learned” evaluation throughout the lockdown period, resulting in a re-designing and re-shaping of some services in Torfaen.
  • Ten “hubs” opened during lockdown to support families in Pembrokeshire.
  • Engagement with autistic adults and those with a learning disability through the lockdown period in Gwynedd.

The National Autism Team (NAT) have continued to facilitate the quarterly National Autism Leads network meetings virtually, and introduced regional “Hwb” meetings, to encourage strong engagement across the specialism and to provide an opportunity to share good practice on a national, regional and local level. The attendance levels have been record-breaking via this new format, as more Leads are able to attend with the absence of travel time.

The Leads continue to play an essential role in disseminating information from the NAT locally, and informing national policy and guidance through local networks and engagement in a grass-roots approach. The network continues to ‘sign-post’ the people they support and professional colleagues to the NAT Covid-19 Information webpage, and Facebook and Twitter pages.

Virtual Autism Team Wales Covid-19 (All Wales) 

A “Virtual Autism Team Wales” was established by the National Autism Team (NAT) at the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown, and its meetings continue to be facilitated and led by the National Autism Professional Lead. The Group includes autistic people, professionals from Health and Social Care, voluntary organisations from across Wales and the NAT. The Group has been meeting weekly to discuss “live” issues facing the autistic community and to prepare useful resources to support autistic people and their families and carers during Covid-19.

The resources are then shared to the NAT’s Covid-19 Information hub webpage and published to the NAT’s Facebook and Twitter pages. All resources that the Group produce are available in Welsh and English, and include, but are not limited to:

The meetings take place virtually, which allows psychologists and psychiatrists from across the country to attend, who would otherwise not be able to due to travel time constraints. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease in Wales, the Group will meet less frequently, but continue to develop useful advice and guidance regarding issues such as transition back to school, transportation and vaccination.

Integrated Autism Services Covid-19 (All Wales) 

There are 7 Integrated Autism Services across Wales.  They are a partnership between all 22 LAs and 7 Health Boards – each mirrors the Health Board footprint.  The services have a dual role of undertaking adult autism diagnostic assessments and offering support, advice and guidance to autistic adults, parents and carers, and professionals.  Covid-19 has resulted in all services adapting their practice and developing innovative solutions, such as:

  • Virtual drop in information and advice sessions
  • Online post diagnostic courses for autistic adults
  • Virtual training sessions
  • Digital information gathering to inform diagnostic assessments
  • Holding sessions in a safe space e.g. in the garden
  • Utilizing ‘Attend Anywhere’, ‘Zoom’, and ‘MS Teams’ to offer advice, guidance, and support sessions
  • The development of online yoga sessions
  • The development of online peer support

Research has been built into many of the projects to examine the effectiveness, long term impact and the viability of developing an ongoing blended approach.  The initial feedback from many autistic people has been very positive as, especially in rural areas, it has reduced the anxiety of accessing venues, offices etc.  The outcome of the research will feed into the long-term development plans of both the IASs and autism services generally in Wales.

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