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About Autism Central
What is Autism Central?
Autism Central is a peer education programme for parents and carers of autistic people. We offer high-quality and easily accessible learning, information and guidance developed by autistic people, parents and carers and delivered via regional hubs across England, alongside a dedicated website.
Autism Central is designed to help families learn more about autism and understand how to navigate support. Read more about us.
Who set up Autism Central?
Who commissioned Autism Central?
Autism Central is a peer education programme commissioned by NHS England’s Workforce, Training and Education Team. The programme was commissioned to help families learn more about autism from other parents and carers to understand how to navigate support.
How does The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism link with other NHS England commissioned training?
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is designed to provide the essential training that everyone needs. Other training, such as the suite of training packages developed by NHS England, is designed to be delivered in addition to The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training. This is because the other training we provide covers learning outside the scope of the standardised The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training.
Oliver’s Training is a vital and important first step in a journey to change health and care culture towards learning disability and autism. It provides a standardised package, so we know that everyone has a shared understanding of the essentials concerning learning disability and autism. Staff in roles that require more than the essential skills and knowledge will need additional training to enable them to perform their roles.
The additional training may come from a diverse range of sources, for example, child intellectual disability psychiatry training, Stopping over medication of people with a learning disability and autistic people (STOMP) training or training specific to an individual.
Why is Autism Central England only?
We are funded to run this programme in England. Autism Central has been commissioned by NHS England’s Workforce, Training and Education Team.
Who is the programme for?
The programme is for parents, carers and personal assistants of autistic children, young people and adults. Our resources may also be useful for autistic people who are not parents, carers or personal assistants and are advocating for themselves. While aimed at parents and carers, the programme can also support an autistic person’s wider family and caring network.
How have you involved autistic people?
Everything we do is informed by or co-produced with autistic people, parents and carers. We have an Expert Reference Group of autistic members and a Parent Carer Panel, which includes a number of autistic members. These groups help to support the strategic planning of materials for the programme. We also work with autistic people to write and produce content to ensure that the voices of autistic people and their families are at the heart of everything we do.
How have you involved parents and carers?
Everything we do is informed by or co-produced with autistic people, parents and carers. At the very beginning of the programme, we carried out stakeholder research with parents and carers to find out what their priorities were and how a peer education programme could best support them. The programme includes a Parent Carer Panel. This is a group of parents and carers from diverse backgrounds, who are parents and carers of autistic people of different ages and with different needs.
What is different about Autism Central?
Autism Central brings together knowledge and expertise from trusted sources in a central place. Everything we do is informed by or co-produced with autistic people, parents and carers. We support parents and carers of autistic children and adults across England through regional hubs. We share knowledge through and peer educators with personal experience and local understanding.
About our partners
Why do you have so many partners?
We believe that partnership is a strength. As well as bringing together a diverse range of viewpoints and experience, a partnership model brings greater reach and insight into the current range of information and help available. Autism Central is working alongside existing offers of information and guidance to compliment these, prioritising parents lived experience.
Is Autism Central a National Autistic Society service?
Autism Central is commissioned by NHS England’s Workforce, Training and Education Team and has been developed by a partnership of nine not-for profit organisations. This partnership includes the National Autistic Society.
Autism Central is not a legal entity and is hosted on behalf of the partnership by the National Autistic Society (NAS). NAS carries all legal responsibility for the programme and enters into all contracts on its behalf.
How were Autism Central partners selected?
Partners were selected to reflect expertise and experience in autism and the delivery of support for autistic people and their families; the information about autism they already provide; and the networks they have with families and local organisations. In addition, the Autism Central partners share the vision and mission of the service.
Can I become a Partner?
We love to hear from people and organisations who align to our beliefs and values. If you also support parents and carers of autistic people to be knowledgeable about autism, contact us to find out more on how to get involved as a partner.
We already offer a similar service to Autism Central
We aim to work with other local services that help parents and carers get the right support and will signpost to these where they exist. If you have a resource or support service, you would like us know about, or to be included let us know.
About peer educators
How are peer educators chosen?
Parents and carers can apply to become a peer educator through one of the Autism Central hubs. Peer Educators are chosen following an interview process, DBS and other checks aligning with individual hubs recruitment requirements. Once recruited peer educators follow an induction and training programme which provides them with the necessary skills.
Are peer educators autistic?
Autism Central has been commissioned by NHS England to offer peer to peer support for families and carers of autistic people. As such, the peer educator roles are primarily filled by family members/carers of autistic people (this includes parents/carers who are autistic themselves) to enable parent to parent insight. However, autistic people who are not parent/carers who have come forward expressing an interest in providing peer support can also apply, particularly as this programme is spanning all ages, for families of adults as well as children. You can read more about peer educators, and we would recommend you reach out to your nearest hub to see what opportunities there are in your area.
How are peer educators trained and quality assured?
All peer educators are required to complete initial training, developed by Autism Central, and receive ongoing support, supervision and refresher training. Hubs check that all training has been completed and responsible for reporting on progress to Autism Central.
About our hubs
What are hubs?
Our Autism Central hubs offer guidance to families, carers and personal assistants of autistic people. They offer group and one-to-one sessions to help you and other parents and carers find the information and support available in your area. Hubs may also run events such as workshops, drop-in sessions, coffee mornings or virtual meet-ups. Find your hub.
How were the organisations that run each regional hub chosen?
Hubs applied to Autism Central following an invitation to tender. Hubs followed an application process which included an interview and assessment. Successful applicants were appointed following assessment by Autism Central against requirements.
How is the support offered by Regional Hubs quality assured?
The hubs have regular check-ins and ongoing monitoring which feeds into a quality assurance process to identify areas for development and improvement. Hubs encourage participants to complete online feedback questionnaires so we can monitor individual hubs performance.
Why are there only seven hubs?
Autism Central is a peer education programme commissioned by NHS England’s Workforce, Training and Education Team. The hub regions have been setup to align to the seven NHS England regions.
My regional hub is too far from where I live?
Regional hubs offer both in-person, and online help. Search events currently available, or contact your hub for other ways to access support, this could be by phone, email, online or via virtual meetings or signposting to other organisations offering family support. Find your hub.