The Mapping Project
In line with Recommendation 8, some of the Strategy funding has been dedicated to mapping out local autism services and improving coordination of these services. Coinciding with a one-off investment of £35k for each local authority in Scotland to develop their own local Autism Action Plans, the aim of the Autism Mapping Project ('the Project') was to:
- consult with people with autism, their families and carers, service providers and local agencies
- map out existing autism service provision in all local areas in order to build up a local and national picture
- identify priority areas for action that reflected local need
- work collaboratively with local partnerships, councils, NHS, criminal justice, third sector organisations and other relevant public bodies
- provide Local Authorities with a 'Service Map' of their area, to inform their Autism Action Plans
The Project was managed by a partnership comprising the National Autistic Society Scotland, Autism Initiatives Scotland, Scottish Autism, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) and the Scottish Government.
A range of agencies/service providers/individuals from local authority areas contributed data to the Project in varying degrees and a local 'Service Map' - based on an analysis of the data - has been provided to each Local Authority. In turn, the Service Maps have helped inform Local Authority Autism Action Plans/Strategies.
A report of the Project captures the key data gathered and gives a useful snapshot of the landscape of Scottish autism services. Key findings indicate the following areas could benefit from improvement:
- Inclusion of people with autism and their carers: people with autism and their carers are not being viewed as 'equal partners' in the planning and design of services for people with autism and the lack of support available
- Partnerships and multi-agency working: inconsistencies in multiagency working and information sharing impacting on access to services and early intervention or prevention strategies
- Information/Knowledge exchange: information for carers not always accessible at local level
- Leadership and ownership: in local areas leadership became interchangeable with the role of coordination. Project data shows that 46.7% of respondents were not sure who had the lead role for autism locally
- Services: demand for employment opportunities, access of respite and advocacy services and access to diagnostic services
- Transitions: gap in transitions between children and adult services and gaps in support in all other life transitions
- Training: knowledge of autism not in the mainstream and could be improved within the public sector
The evidence created by the Project and presented in the mapping report indicates that there are key elements where an investment in autism coordination could support the work of local autism community partnerships and progress the 10 indicators of good practice to bring about better outcomes for people with autism.
This contributes to goals 1,2,3 and 4 of the Foundation stage by setting out the autism services landscape in each local authority, highlighting what's working well and what's not, and providing a framework - in the form of a Service Map - for local authorities to plan and improve future service delivery.
A copy of mapping report is available for download from the Strategy website:
Email: Ali Taylor