ASD is a key priority area for Te Pou disability workforce grants. In 2016, 133 applications from 63 organisations across New Zealand received a consumer leadership development grant (CLDG) or workforce development grant (WDG), totaling $1,213,302.71. Of the types of learning funded, 3% of CLDG and 27% of WDG were for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Last year Te Pou and the Ministry of Health agreed on a project plan that includes the development of a framework outlining the knowledge and skills expected by autistic people, families, support providers, specialists and Individualised Funding (IF) employers.
The framework is intended to help employers identify areas of professional development needed in their workforce and to assist training providers to develop curriculum that reflects sector needs. It is also intended to assist people on the autism spectrum, whānau and caregivers to increase their own knowledge and skills.
The framework is currently in revision as Te Pou continues to engage with a reference group consisting of diverse stakeholders from across the disability sector. This resource is expected to be published later in 2017.
Te Pou has recently produced a toolkit which aims to improve the quality of information available to Pasifika families after the diagnosis of autism and to improve support around accessing disability support services. The resource provides a practical explanation of autism, advice on how to manage some common challenges, pathways for getting different types of community-based support and useful tools to help improve communication and predictability at home.
For more information on availability of the Pasifika toolkit, please contact John Vogenthaler.
Te Pou was proud to support a new learning and development initiative between Altogether Autism and Explore Specialist Advice. Throughout February, Altogether Autism hosted a series of workshops around the country which provided enhanced level autism training for Behaviour Support Specialist (BSS) staff and clinicians.
This was the first time that specialist training at this level had been available to the sector and it was exciting to see a partnership between Altogether Autism, an organisation which provides evidence-based information, and Explore, the leaders in behaviour support for the disability sector.
This piece of work is incredibly important because of the critical role played by behaviour support staff within the support of an individual. BSS staff interact extensively with people with autism as well as parents, caregivers, support workers and managers of organisations - they are in a unique position to facilitate the transfer of knowledge across different workforce groups.
Specialist staff equipped with in-depth knowledge will be able to support others to learn more about autism and to implement that knowledge into practice. It is hopeful that such advanced training will lead to high quality support informed by evidence-based practice and up-to-date clinical knowledge.
Additional resources are being planned for later publication. Te Pou is always interested in hearing from disability support service users, families, caregivers and professionals about issues facing the disability sector and the needs of autistic people. If you have ideas related to workforce improvement that you would like to discuss, please contact John Vogenthaler.