ATLAS - What we did in May

Young woman sitting in a wheelchair reading a book.

ATLAS Autism attended the Neurodevelopmental Pathway (ND) reference group

As said in last month's blog, ATLAS Autism has joined an ND reference group and now attends its meetings.

The reference group is intended to bring people together to look at how we can improve the neurodevelopmental pathway for young people and families. The aim is to have greater coproduction, with an ultimate aim to ensure needs are understood and met for all young people at the earliest point.

The very first reference group meeting was held online on the 4 May. This was a great experience for ATLAS Autism members who spoke to professionals about issues and topics that are important to them. Some members also gave feedback on the meeting afterwards so it can be a more accessible and comfortable space to raise opinions.

The next meeting will be taking place on June 15 from 4pm to 5pm.

"This is one of the big values of having a set agenda, if you make sure we are aware of what will be discussed, we can prepare ourselves or withdraw ourselves if needed. The next layer is if we use poll features to explain this and make It collaborative."

Improving adult mental health services

On the 10 May Wendy Smith from the Surrey Coalition of Disabled People came to visit ATLAS Autism and discussed how mental health services for adults can be improved in Surrey and Northeast Hampshire.

Wendy also wanted to know more about how suitable and accessible mental health services are for neurodivergent people, what barriers there are, and how access can be improved.

Wendy is autistic and has lived experience of mental ill health which ATLAS Autism members thought was great to see someone like her in such an important role. Very inspiring!

"Early intervention and accessing support before reaching a bad point. I know this is due to funding but think this needs to change."

"I just want to say that it can be really difficult to manage to go to an appointment in person if you're feeling very anxious or overwhelmed by it, from a sensory point of view as well as anything else."

"A service which is more regular for adults who are neurodivergent and is just for them. Would be better."

ATLAS meeting with mental health professionals

On the 17 May we've had our latest meeting with representatives of the Additional Needs and Disabilities (AN&D) Board. This time the focus was on our mental health related action cards. We've discussed three action cards with the professionals:

  • Young people would like mental health professionals to receive more training around autism awareness and acceptance that includes the voices of Autistic people, because "we need to move away from the idea that you need to repress being Autistic." This will also help professionals understand the differences between autism and the symptoms of mental health conditions, as "the treatment for burnout and depression are very different, so if you get them wrong then it can have negative consequences."
  • Young people would like there to be a 24/7 crisis text line in Surrey so that those young people with selective mutism or non-verbal young people are able to access the support they need when they need it.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is not always a suitable therapy treatment for neurodiverse people. Young people would like to be involved in their therapy care plans; they would like professionals to work alongside autistic young people to help them learn to be experts in their own Autism.

As a result of this meeting, we've agreed on the following actions:

  • Justine Leonard, Director of Children and Young People's Services at Surrey and Borders Partnership (SABP) has promised to continue working together with ATLAS on ensuring that all health colleagues have undertaken recent and up to date autism training, and that the training is based on lived experience.
  • Health colleagues to meet with ATLAS to discuss the i-THRIVE model used by Mindworks to further understand the model and the work underway.
  • Sarah Camp, Neurodevelopmental Pathway General Manager has since collated some information on how CBT is being amended when working with autistic children and young people. This will be shared with ATLAS Autism on the 14 June.
  • Following from feedback a text crisis line is now being progressed in Surrey. Justine Leonard, will look into it and update us on the details.

Category: ATLAS

  • Reviewed: 20 Jun 2023

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