At Scottish Autism, we recognise that in order to continue evolving as an organisation, be at the fore of autism practice and deliver excellent services, it is crucial to develop partnerships with organisations who share our values. This enables us to collaborate and learn from each other and is a means through which we can contribute to the growing body of knowledge about what constitutes effective autism practice. This is crucial not only for our own practice but for ensuring the best possible services for autistic people in Scotland and further afield. Below are just some of the different ways we work in partnership with external groups and organisations.
We are always looking outwith to see what we can learn from other service providers, benchmarking our performance against international organisations. We have established connections with like-minded organisations such as Heimdal and Langagerskolen in Denmark, benefitting from reciprocal visits and sharing of knowledge and resources. Inspired by Right Click, our online support programme for parents and carers, our Danish colleagues have created an equivalent for Danish parents. In addition we are pleased to be building relationships with Autismo Sevilla and Lemon Tree Hotels in India.
In our home country we work in partnership with many organisations. For example, since 2015 we have been working with Autism Argyll to deliver the Get Set 4 Autism project. Funded by the Big Lottery, this project aims to provide post diagnostic support to parents and carers of children and young people up the age of 18 across Argyll and Bute. The project combines Right Click with enabling support from our Autism Advisors to provide proactive and positive support for families at a time of recent diagnosis. With just one year to go we hope to be able to evidence the effectiveness of the model at the end of the partnership. We will disseminate outcomes nationally and internationally, thus contributing to the wider knowledge base on autism. An independent review of the project is currently underway and we hope that this evaluation will verify the successful outcomes from this model of support allowing us to seek funding to develop it in other areas of Scotland.
Funded by the Scottish Government, the SWAN (Scottish Women’s Autism Network) mentoring project was developed and delivered in partnership with ourselves and SWAN. Autistic led, it involved engaging with autistic women and girls to construct a programme of experiential learning and training for mentors. Once mentors were recruited they were matched with a mentee for a set period.
The project was designed to support women to identify personal goals and outcomes as well as give access to a range of mentoring, networking and personal development training. The project enabled autistic women to build feelings of empowerment, identity, self-esteem, confidence, resilience and citizenship.
As a charity we must think creatively in order to maximise the benefits of sharing our knowledge and experience whilst being mindful of the associated costs of doing this. The aim of our Knowledge Share events is to create a forum where we can communicate directly with parents, carers, professionals and autistic people. We deliver practical information on a range of issues that directly impact on the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals on the spectrum and their families. In order to keep the cost of these events low, we work with local authorities and strive to secure a venue for free and in return we offer some in-kind places for their staff.