Improving access to social care for adults with autism

How to overcome the barriers on the front line

Person-centred planning is a process for continual listening and learning, focussing on what is important to someone now and in the future, and acting upon this in alliance with their family and friends. (36)

For personalisation to work for people with autism, those supporting the person need to know their needs, wishes, choices and idiosyncrasies in great detail (20). There is no one right way, because everyone is different, but staff who stay around long enough for rapport and trust to develop (20), and who foster an overall culture of innovation, will help personalisation take root (10).

An important first step in personalising the support a person with autism receives is to set out with them what their aspirations and needs are. Skilled input is needed to make sure that the planning of personalised care works well (20). While there has been little research into what constitutes a good person-centred facilitator for people with autism, a practice consensus seems to be emerging that they need to (60):

A meeting of lots of people might not be the best environment for the person with autism to share their thoughts. Supporters need to consider alternatives such as the person submitting their views in writing, by video or in a smaller pre-meeting. Any meetings need to be in quiet, calm environments, with plenty of breaks, and set up to maximise the inclusion and contribution of the person with autism. So, for example, notes can be taken on the favourite-coloured paper of the person concerned, or kept in a place of the person's choosing. The key will be to develop a trusting relationship with the person with autism and their family, based on an in-depth knowledge of their strengths, wishes and needs (54), and how their autism affects them as an individual (28). This may take longer than with other people with disabilities, but for many people with autism this time will be needed for the process to work well.
Things that are worth considering in trying to make personalisation work for people with autism include:

For services to be acceptable, personal assistants, where used, will need to be well trained, and to stay well trained. Pools of support workers may work better than just one (56), as working one to one with a person with autism can be demanding for both parties over time.

Further reading