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The Valuing Autism Blog


‘Making the most of lockdown’ is a phrase I have heard frequently over recent months. For each person who has said it to me, it has meant something different. For me, it meant having the opportunity to undertake a new training programme that I had been trying to find the time for, even if that meant my bedroom became a classroom and my classmates were scattered all over the world!

Interaction Method for Paediatric Autism Communication Therapy (IMPACT) is a theory-based programme that enables parents to target the ‘building blocks’ of language and communication. Specifically designed for children aged 2-10 years with an autism diagnosis, it enables parent(s) as the primary communication partner(s) to support the extension of their child’s skills as part of their everyday routine. It is important to remember that communication is so much more than speech!

The supporting research that underpins IMPACT (or PACT for short) demonstrates that maximising the synchronicity of communication between the autistic child and their parent/carer maximises quality of life for the family as a whole.

Undertaking the trainee practice to achieve my accreditation during a global pandemic has been challenging. As someone more used to meeting families and fellow practitioners, I have found meeting people online feels less connected for me than it does in person, but everyone experiences the world in their own way. I just was never expecting my world to be like this. I will not be letting it prevent me from continuing my development as an Autism Practitioner, but I am looking forward to the time when the world looks more like I expected it to!

If you would like to know more about the therapeutic programme and find a practitioner in your area, full details can be found on the here.

In order to complete my accreditation, I am working to find appropriate ways of 'meeting' with parents - if you would like to know more, please contact me at

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Celebrations with family and friends are an important part of life – sharing joy and taking a break from our day to day lives. Sometimes it is easy to forget that what neuro-typical people find enjoyable can be a source of stress and anxiety for someone who relies on the everyday structure to understand the world around them.

A lot of how we celebrate can be steeped in family and community traditions, some of which we cannot explain to others, it is ‘just the way we always do it”.

Celebrations bring a vast number of changes to routines and expectations. Our homes, offices and schools are suddenly decorated; our daily routine is now punctuated with events, performances, parties and visitors – some planned and some spontaneous – and everyone is expected to be happy with all this disruption as it is a time for celebration.

So, if the holiday season and celebrations are leading to stress for the autistic person in your life, think about how you can make it a restful, celebratory time for everyone. Here are five tips for valuing autism during the holidays:

· Plan ahead and avoid surprises. Actively discourage those who drop by unannounced if the doorbell is a source of stress. Explain to friends and family that your attendance at gatherings may be reduced, or non-existent, depending on anxiety levels. Those who truly value you will understand.

· Ensure one area in each key location is the same as always – no decorations, no festive music etc. – a safe place to spend time if feeling overwhelmed.

· Take a graduated approach if required – if you like to have a lot of decorations, then add them slowly as the festive season progresses and make sure everyone has a role in decorating so that there are no surprises.

· We are expected to enjoy presents, but gift-giving (and receiving) requires us to understand a large number of social etiquettes. We are expected to enjoy surprise gifts and the anticipation of not knowing what someone has bought for us, but for those dealing with anxiety it may be more than they can manage. Consider using see –through or opaque wrapping that allows peeking, or even no wrapping at all.

· Celebrate in your own way. Make some new traditions, find new ways to relax and spend time with loved ones. Make new memories to treasure.

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Job interviews are often nothing to do with the role that the successful candidate will be undertaking. In the main, they are a social exercise to check you will fit with the panel’s idea of who they want, not a way of checking if you really have the skills for the day-to-day role.

For neuro-diverse people who interpret social cues and language differently to the neuro-typical majority, an interview can be an extremely difficult encounter. If it is your first time at an interview, it can be nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect. Only 32% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment and only 16% in full-time work. These statistics (gathered by Knapp, Romeo & Beecham for Kings College London) have been static for a decade.

London-based software designers Skills2Use have been working in partnership with a range of disability organisations, including Valuing Autism, to explore how candidates with additional needs can be better supported in the interview process. Their Interview Preparation app, available on Android and iOS devices, enables candidates to structure their preparation, identify transferrable skills and better understand the social conventions of the typical interview process. It brings together over 20 million hints and tips for a successful interview into one handy app that you can personalise, add notes and examples as you prepare to be offered your dream job.

The app tailors your preparation according to the industry and pathway you are pursuing – there are dedicated sections for apprenticeships, graduate job-seekers, internships and other job-seekers, covering 21 industry areas. There are also guides to preparing for group assessments and skills testing.

Skills2Use are a Disability Confident-Committed organisation, co-founded by a disabled person with other disabled people on the team.

If you are looking for work or supporting someone who is – perhaps as a teacher, careers advisor or job coach – this app could take your confidence to the winning level!

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