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Online workshops aim to improve understanding of autism

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Pictured at a workplace learning event, Working with Autism hosted at ACT Training in Cardiff are (left to right) Sara Harvey, National Strategy Manager and Wendy Thomas, National Professional Manager of the National Autism Team, Ben Gray, Cardiff and Vale County Council for Social Care and Health Cabinet Member, Minister for Education Kirsty Williams, MS, Apprentices Darren James and Ellie Curtis, Charlotte Dando of ACT Training and Humie Webbe of NTfW.

Ninety people employed by 18 workplace training providers registered for the last two workshops organized by Humie Webbe, strategic manager for equality and diversity at the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW).

The workshops are led by the National Autism Team, which is funded by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Local Government Association, in partnership with Public Health Wales. The team provides support and advice to help improve the lives of people with autism, their families and carers across Wales.

The team worked with autism managers across Wales, the NTfW and Cardiff-based ACT training, and people with autism to produce a resource pack for workplace learning. Access the resource pack at www.ASDinfoWales.co.uk.

The pack contains two guides – one to help training providers understand and support people with autism and one for autistic learners to help them complete their workplace learning journey.

It provides useful advice, information, tips and tricks for training providers to help create autism-friendly environments for learners in the workplace, ranging from sensory and communication considerations to task management and work support.

Trainers logging into the online workshop watch a film that explores what autism means to three people with autism, including social communication, patterns and routines, sensory experience, and how to make things better. Consulting psychologist Dr. Elin Walker Jones adds a professional voice.

The film is designed to raise awareness and understanding of autism and its link to work-based learning, providing information and good practice.

After viewing the film and viewing the resource pack, trainers must correctly answer a series of 20 questions to receive an Autism Awareness Certificate.

A training provider, North Wales Training, obtained the autism awareness certificate for the organization after 41 of 45 trainers and assessors successfully completed the workshop on June 3.

Ruth Collinge, contracts manager for North Wales Training, said the company’s trainers and assessors had all benefited from the workshop.

“We have a lot of autistic learners and staff, as part of their ongoing professional development, are always looking for new learning resources to support them,” she said. “The resources provided by the Autism National Team for staff and learners are really good and have raised everyone’s awareness.

“Staff learned to develop specific learning strategies to better understand and support learners with autism.”

Wendy Thomas, National Autism Team Professional Lead for Autism, said she was pleased with the interest in the virtual workshop.

“It shows that there is a real need for this learning resource,” she added. “We’re excited to see people using it and putting the advice into practice.

“It’s important to raise awareness that people with autism can access workplace learning. Everyone should have the same opportunity to have the career they want, whether or not they have autism. What’s really important is having the right person in the right role.