Autism is one of our core areas of business and a large focus of our work and in January 2019 Speaking Space was awarded Autism Accreditation Advanced status by the National Autistic Society (NAS).
So why is that so important for us and for people to know?
Well for many years we have worked hard to make sure our services are as outstanding as possible, striving to be the best for anyone who receives a service from us. So, this was such an exciting moment – to have that vision and hard work recognised.
Autism Accreditation is the UK’s only autism specific quality assurance programme of support and development for organisations providing services to autistic people. It proves that an organisation is committed to understanding autism and setting the standard for autism practice. It is only awarded after many hours of observation and an intensive inspection process (usually done over 3 years). There are around 450 organisations around the UK that are either autism accredited or aspiring to be accredited, but only a handful that are awarded Advanced status.
Receiving this status means that we are:
- The first speech and language and OT service ever to be accredited
- The first service of any kind to be accredited in Hampshire
- The first day service in England to receive advanced status.
Here are some of the things that the NAS committee said about us:
- Speaking Space has carried out significant work to raise awareness of the communication needs of autistic people within the local community.
- The service has a comprehensive strategy and structure for managing behaviour within the service, this includes a clearly written policy and guidelines for staff and person-centred documentation. Staff were seen to be responsive to the needs of autistic people throughout sessions and adapted their practice accordingly throughout.
- The approach the service uses to ensure they use an eclectic mix of internal and external speakers for their internal training. This has resulted in a range of highly skilled members within the staff at Speaking Space who will share their knowledge and expertise in formal training sessions.
- Sharing knowledge both internally and externally is a piece of best practice and will ensure that strategies are shared, and people develop their skills in relation to autism. Speaking Space staff are highly active in sharing their knowledge this also included being encouraged to carry out research and publish books. This has included the redevelopment of the Talkabout assessment wheel, [research on the] impact of the Talkabout social skills programme and an autism assessment that allows users to highlight areas of development for target setting.
- The consistent approach to a Total Communication Approach is seen regularly throughout the day service where service users are encouraged to communicate in a format which is comfortable to them, whilst also developing their abilities to communicate.
So, what now?
We will continue to develop our work and services in autism to make sure our services are as outstanding as possible, aiming to be the best for anyone who receives a service from us. And then in 2021 we will be reassessed by the NAS and will hopefully retain our Advanced Status.