ATLAS - What we did in July

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ATLAS Autism have co-chaired the Children and Young People Autism Board Meeting

On the 26 of July, ATLAS Autis co-chaired the Children and Young People's Autism Partnership Board meeting. The meeting was focusing on two main themes:

  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) /Sensory Experiences eating and drinking, and
  • Gender and sexuality and neurodiversity.

In terms of ARFID, you shared – and the professionals attending the meeting agreed – that there are usually limited options for food in the education system and there's no flexibility in terms of alternatives and amendments as meals are often just shipped in and not made on site.

Also, there are usually rather strict rules and regulations around eating that make it even more difficult for neurodiverse children and young people to be able to eat what they are able to.

* "You weren't allowed to move on to the next course unless you'd eaten a certain amount of the main. So, you'd have to go up to a member of staff, or they'd come round to you, and you'd say can I move on, and they'd say no, you haven't eaten enough of this certain food."
* "There was always an issue of 'you haven't eaten any of your other vegetables'. They wouldn't understand that actually, I'd eaten as much as I possibly could."

When the Board was discussing gender and neurodiversity, you shared that in your experience schools and colleges are often not aware of their options to support a young person transitioning.

They do not know that they don't actually need parental consent to use a young person's preferred pronouns/chosen name! Legally they might not be able to change these but socially they can! Instead, they are telling parent/carers about young people transitioning before they would be ready to do so themselves.

You shared, for some young people it might not even be safe to talk about their gender identity at home. You've also shared that a neurodiverse young person is more likely to struggle from all the changes that occur with puberty, and with understanding the concept of gender.

* "They're making me make this massive decision that I'm not comfortable making yet"
* "If you look at sexuality and gender, they are social constructs, and neurodiverse people are usually not good at social cues. There isn't a lot of information around this, and even if there is, it's all aimed at the way neurotypicals would perceive it. This causes a conflict and a lack of self-identity as you have nothing to hold yourself to. The people who are meant to be teaching the young people they don't understand themselves sexuality, relationships, and gender, and how the autistic minds work. The way we understand sexuality is completely different."
* "A lot of the teaching around sexuality and gender is geared for neurotypicals, and it won't work for autistic people. There needs to be a curriculum or shift on how its taught."

Both an AFRID and a Sexuality & Gender and Neurodiversity working group is being set up that ATLAS will be a part of. These groups will be working on the specific actions that the Autism Partnership want to take to improve neurodiverse children and young people's experiences.

'Voices of ATLAS' podcast is out!

ATLAS has launched their new podcast called 'Voices of ATLAS'!

The very first, introductory episode called 'Intro to ATLAS' can now be found online.

This first episode introduces ATLAS, talks about participation and how it can be made accessible to everyone, and why groups like ATLAS are important. The young people will be focusing on a different topic in each episode.

"What's important about ATLAS is the fact that having the opinion of the people in the services paves the way to improve it for future generations. It's, the improvement, allowing us to have a voice and an opportunity to kind of have a say in the services."

Additional Needs & Disabilities (AN&D) Training

Throughout June and July, ATLAS have co-produced a new Additional Needs and Disabilities (AN&D) user perspective training.

The training is aimed at all professionals working in Surrey, and it gives professionals an understanding of what it is like to have additional needs or disabilities as a child or young person!

Great work at co-designing additional needs and disabilities training, we're excited to launch!

Category: ATLAS

  • Reviewed: 06 Sep 2023

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