An overview of Autism Training for CAMHS Commissioners and Service providers
This section of the Toolkit aims to cover the range and scope of awareness raising, training and professional development that is available and accessible to those commissioning and those practitioners being commissioned to deliver mental health services and support for children and young people who are or may be on the autism spectrum.
The purpose is to signpost to national and local delivery partners and agencies of training or e-learning.
According to the NAS report ‘Scrutinising Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for Children with Autism’ (2010):
“CAMHS staff need to be able to identify potential signs of autism in children and adapt behaviour (particularly communication) accordingly. For example, make reasonable adjustments such as flexibility in the duration, frequency or location of sessions, in line with the Equality Act.
Providing mental health support to a child with autism is a specialist skill. Many therapies and interventions rely on through processes and communication techniques that do not make sense to children with autism and only skilful adaption can make them relevant and useful.
An autism specialist can:
- Recognise and diagnose autism in children (or be involved in a multi-disciplinary autism diagnosis)
- Communicate effectively with children from across the while autism spectrum
- Adapt the way they deliver mental health interventions to meet the needs of children with autism
- Support fellow professionals to provide an appropriate service to children with autism through training and advice”
The report states that 71% of children with autism develop mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders. Government research has also found that a quarter of children with autism had self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts; and Child health mapping shows that 1 in every 10 children who use Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have autism – over 10,000 children each year.
The NHS England: ‘Model Specification for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services: Targeted and Specialist levels report’ (2015) is intended to support the commissioning of targeted and specialist services and provides a useful overview. The summary on page 12 in the report lists a number of websites listing resources that are also available for commissioners and service providers.
A Summary Overview of autism training for CAMHS staff
It became clear when undertaking the research into specific autism training for CAMHS staff that different local areas and CCGs have different approaches to the training being offered or provided:
- On reviewing the 93 local area CAMHS websites, only 2 of these mentioned autism training on their webpages. Of these 2 sites, only one authority (Leicestershire) offered a bespoke basic autism training course looking at generic areas.
- The Skills for Care / Skills for Health site has a concise list of what training should cover at the lower Tier levels (1 and 2) and could be recommended for adoption as the universally recognised standards of training for basic and intermediate training.
- Skills for Care along with Health England (in conjunction with the Department of Health) have also established a list of autism awareness learning resources, which could be adopted as best practice.
- The Autism Education Trust competency self-assessment tool for teachers in early years settings, schools and post 16 provision, could be useful for education practitioners and commissioners.
- Review of 3 modules of NVQ type courses in autism:
- LD210 Introductory awareness of Autistic Spectrum conditions
- LD310 Understand how to support individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
- LD510 Promote good practice in the support of individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
This review established that there was no clear universal course for Tiers 1, 2 3 or 4 in autism training for CAMHS staff.
On reviewing training for Tiers 2 and above there is no clear further education qualification for professionals working in the field or for higher level Tiers working with complex individuals.
Skills for Health / Skills for Care developed the “Autism Skills and knowledge list for workers in generic social care and health services” – this provides a self-assessment checklist for workers and services and what levels of ‘autism understanding’ different tiers of CAMHS workers should have.
Tier 1 of CAMHS is very general encompassing general staff in all sorts of spheres from nursing – GPs to social care staff / social workers / therapists – all sorts / educationalists etc. (many of whom cover autism in one way or another).
- The National Autistic Society: Scrutinising Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for Children with Autism – May 2010
- Model Specification for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – Targeted and Specialist levels (Tiers 2/3)-2015.
- SCIE – Implementing the autism skills and knowledge list through staff training and development
- Skills for Health / Skills for Care – Autism Skills and Knowledge list for workers in generic social care and health services
- Skills for Health/Skills for Care – Implementing the autism skills and knowledge list through staff training and development
- Skills for Health / Skills for Care – Getting it right for people with autism – the research behind the Autism Skills and Knowledge list
- Skills for Care – Autism Awareness learning resources
- Royal College of General Practitioners online Autism toolkit and Mental Health Toolkit
- Royal College of Psychiatrists Service Standards
- NICE clinical guidelines: Autism Spectrum Disorders in under 19’s: support and management
- MindEd – e-learning resource
Health England along with Skills for Care have developed with the Department of Health an Autism Awareness Learning Resources list which signposts to the following:
- RCNi – https://rcni.com/
- MindEd-e-learning portal – https://www.minded.org.uk/
- British Psychological Society – https://www.bps.org.uk/what-we-do/bps/bps
- Social Care Institute for Excellence – https://www.scie.org.uk/
- University of Oxford – https://www.ox.ac.uk/
- Skills for Care and Skills for Health-autism awareness learning resources – https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Document-library/Skills/Autism/autism-awareness-learning-resources.pdf
- NICE – https://www.nice.org.uk/
- ACAMH – https://www.acamh.org/
- The National Autistic Society – https://www.autism.org.uk/
- Royal College of Psychiatrists – https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/
- Royal College of GP’s – https://www.rcgp.org.uk/
RECOMMENDATIONS for PLANNING AND DELIVERY of TRAINING:
- ‘Scrutinising CAMHS for children with autism’…NAS (2010).
- Skills for Care Resources:
- Review of Autism Skills and Knowledge List (Skills for Health/Skills for Care)
Autism Skills and Knowledge List, for workers in generic social care and health services:
Implementing the autism skills and knowledge list through staff training and development – for those who plan, commission and deliver workforce development for workers in generic health and social care services.
Getting it right for people with autism – the research behind the Autism Skills and Knowledge List