A training film made in Wales, aimed at raising awareness of the signs of autism among front-line professionals in health and education, is being officially re-launched today in a pioneering collaboration with four European countries.
Led by a partnership between Cardiff University and Welsh Government, the film, called ‘The Birthday Party’ is designed to help professionals understand the varied ways that the signs of autism can present themselves in different children.
Dr Catherine Jones, Co-Director of the Wales Autism Research Centre at Cardiff University, said:
“The signs of autism can often be missed but it is crucial for professionals to recognise them so they can make an appropriate referral for diagnosis and obtain the right support from health, social care and education services.
“We hope that everyone who watches the new versions of our films will be able to better recognise the basic signs of autism and be aware that signs can present in different ways.”
The first edition of the film, launched in June 2017, has also been used by other training groups in the UK. It came about following the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) hosted National ASD Development Team’s consultation with autistic individuals, parents and carers.
Councillor Huw David (Bridgend), WLGA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care said:
“I am extremely pleased that the National ASD Development Team’s pioneering work in raising awareness of autism in Wales, along with the work of Cardiff University and other partners, has led to an international collaboration which will help to raise awareness of ASD amongst professionals in Spain, Latvia, Italy and Lithuania.
“Individuals with autism are as entitled as everyone else to feel part of society, and by raising everyone’s awareness, we can contribute towards creating autism friendly environments.”
Interest in the film from other countries in Europe has led to a collaboration with Spain, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania. This collaborative project is sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council.
In each country, charity and university partners formed a team together with advisors from the autism community. The result is new editions of the English and Welsh films and new translations in Spanish, Italian, Latvian and Lithuanian. It will also join other training materials in education as part of the Welsh Government’s Learning with Autism Programme in schools.
Līga Bērziņa, Chair of the Latvian Autism Association, said:
"Within Latvia there has been a general lack of understanding by educational professionals about how to recognise and support the signs of autism. Autistic children have been excluded from school simply because their behaviours were not understood. The Latvian version of the Birthday Party film is already having significant impact in educating practitioners and changing attitudes. We are beginning to use the film, along with other Cardiff University and Welsh Government resources, within medical practice at the Children’s Clinical University Hospital and in teacher training.”
Primarily aimed at professionals, the film can also be accessed online by the wider public at www.autismchildsigns.com.