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Resources and training for autism and neurodiversity, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD. Includes information on 1. recognition, assessment, diagnosis and individual formulation. 2. support, education and evidence based interventions.

Introduction

Welcome to the Autism and Neurodiversity learning pages.  Here you will find information on:

- terms used to describe autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions

- links to clinical guidelines

- the Autism Training Framework and Autism Training Plan 

- learning resources to increase recognition and understanding of autism in both children and adults

- learning resources to increase knowledge and skills in support and interventions for children and adults with autism.

The focus for learning so far has been on Autism Spectrum Disorders, however it is recognised that a broader understanding of neurodiversity is required and it is hoped that education and training resources will be expanded in this area going forward. 

Some of our resources are not publicly available. Use the 'Sign in' or 'Register' links above to gain access to more learning resources and your personalised learning area.

NES Autism and Neurodiversity Team

Language and focus 

To date NES Psychology have focused exclusively on Autism, with the development of a knowledge and skills framework for staff; the Autism Training Framework (ATF), and the Autism Training Plan, which complements the ATF and outlines the training that is needed to fulfil the requirements of the framework.  These documents continue to be relevant, and we would like to build on them going forward. 

While it is important to continue to focus on education and training in autism, community and professional networks suggest a move to considering neurodevelopmental differences more broadly and including autism alongside other presentations of neurodiversity, for example ADHD.  We understand that there is no universally agreed upon terminology to use when discussing autism or neurodiversity, and we fully respect individual people’s choices on how they wish to talk about and describe themselves. We therefore include the following terms of reference to show how we are considering the use of the terms at this current time. As understanding continues to evolve, these are likely to change, and we will continue to adapt our language to best meet the needs of the population we serve, that is, the neurodiverse community.  

Definitions 

‘Neuro’ relates to the brain, nerves and nervous system which spans our whole body. 

‘Neurocognitive functions’ are selective aspects of brain functions - the ability to learn and use language, the ability to regulate attention, emotions, impulses (including movements and spontaneous utterances), social behaviours, and process sensory stimuli. 

‘Diversity’ means difference or variety. 

‘Neurodiversity’ acknowledges that individual differences exist as a natural and normal consequence of variation in any large population. 

'Neurotypical' describes individuals where a selective neurocognitive function falls within the range typical for most people in the population. 

'Neurodivergent' describes individuals where a selective neurocognitive function falls out with the typical range.  

‘Neurodevelopment’ is the development of the central nervous system during the life of an individual.  A ‘Neurodevelopmental disorder’ is a term reserved for those whose day-to-day functioning is impaired due to difference in one or more neurocognitive function which lie at the extreme of, or out with the normal range.  

Neurodivergent individuals ask to be understood with particular respect to their strengths alongside support if required. 

  

For now, NES Psychology are focusing on support, education and evidence-based interventions regarding autism and ADHD across the lifespan.  Recognition, assessment, diagnosis and individual formulation will look at all neurodevelopmental conditions. 

Our areas of focus remain consistent with the areas of the Autism Training Framework and again we have updated the language used in keeping with a broader focus on neurodiversity, and language to highlight the collaborative nature of any support undertaken.  

Recognition, assessment, diagnosis and individual formulation* 

Support, education and evidenced based interventions 

*Formulation; A theory-based explanation or conceptualisation of the information obtained from a clinical assessment that is developed collaboratively with an individual (and if appropriate their family member/carer) to allow for a meaningful understanding of the current presenting difficulties and which informs the psychological intervention. 

Webinar: Foundations of Neurodiversity Affirming Practice

This is a recording of the Psychology and NMAHP webinar held on 26th October 2023, and we hope this provides an overview of key information about neurodiversity affirming practice.  The webinar is suitable for all health and social care staff as a foundation with the following learning objectives: 

Language and Terminology:

  • Demystify language and promote understanding and confidence in understanding and using ‘new’ language
  • Increasing practitioner’s confidence to seek individual preferences around language

Practice:

  • Understanding comorbid conditions and presentations
    • Prevalence and overlap of neurodevelopmental conditions
    • Prevalence of mental health conditions
    • Masking and impact
  • Key messages in adapting practice for neurodivergent people
Introduction to neurodiversity affirming approach to support ND children and young people

This is a recording of the webinar held on 7th March 2024, delivered by Dr Sinead Rhodes, Developmental Psychologist with over 25 years research experience on the topic of cognition, particularly executive functioning in neurodivergent children and young people.

The webinar is designed for all clinicians working in CAMHS and specialist neurodevelopmental services.  We hope that it provides a brief introduction to neurodiversity affirmative approaches to understanding and supporting neurodivergent children and young people; including psychoeducation, individualisation, transdiagnostic and strength-based approaches.

Clinical guidelines

SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network)

SIGN 145 (2016): Assessment, Diagnosis and interventions for autism spectrum disorders. This SIGN reference guideline was devised in order improve both the assessment and the management of autism spectrum conditions.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)

The following clinical guidelines from NICE are relevant for neurodevelopmental disorders.   

Autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: recognition, referral and diagnosis. Last updated 20th December 2017.

Autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: support and management. Updated 14th June 2021.

Autism spectrum disorder in adults: diagnosis and management. Last updated 18th August 2016.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management. Last updated 13th September 2019.