The National Autistic Society and Mind have collaborated to produce a good practice guide for professionals delivering talking therapies for autistic adults and young people.
Autism is not a mental health condition, but many autistic adults and children develop mental health problems and too many reach crisis point avoidably. This is often because community mental health services are not adapted to support the needs of people with autism.
The Good Practice Guide incorporates the views of people with autism, their family members and mental health professionals to explore how mental health talking therapies can be better for autistic people.
The Ann Craft Trust welcomes this fantastic resource created by the National Autistic Society and Mind. This guidance encourages professionals and organisations to explore how they can adapt their services to ensure their practice is accessible for all.
Sarah Goff, Safeguarding Young People’s Manager, Ann Craft Trust.
The good practice guide offers many practical suggestions for how talking therapies can better respond to the needs of autistic people. Below are just a few examples.
- Consider your language. Ask the person you are working with if they prefer to be referred to using identity-first language (i.e. as a an ‘autistic person’), or as a ‘person with autism’.
- Prioritise communication. The research has found that autistic people are more likely to experience anxiety. Therefore, being unsure of the structure of the session or delays to the appointments could increase stress. Be clear about the purpose of the session, explain your role and set-out what will happen at the appointment. Communicate any changes to the planned timings.
- Adapt your approach. Ask the person you are working with about their preferred method of communication. For instance, would it be helpful if you provided a paper and pen so they could write things down, or engage in an activity such as drawing or walking as you talk.