An NHS Tayside project for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been recognised at a national conference.
Senior occupational therapist Hilary Hart and speech and language therapist Susan Munro developed and ran a group for people with a recent diagnosis of ASD.
The group aimed to educate and offer coping strategies and peer support to clients who were also experiencing mental health difficulties and presented with problems with daily living, along with complex communication, cognitive and sensory processing difficulties.
Hilary and Susan submitted a poster about their work to the College of Occupational Therapists Conference where it was picked as the winner out of nearly 100 posters. The poster was based on a scrabble board, which was one of the activities used to help the participants communicate and offered a light hearted way to finish one of the sessions.
To make the group “ASD friendly”, the sessions were split into three sections – educational information, an activity (which also allowed time to process the information) and feedback and discussion.
Activities included a relaxation session, board games, making a chocolate fondue, trialling of sensory equipment and also a presentation from a representative of the National Autistic Society on community support groups.
Feedback from participants showed that the group had increased their understanding of their ASD diagnosis and their ability to use a variety of strategies to cope with the challenges they experience.
Participants felt they had really benefited from the peer support provided, and the biggest theme which resonated with everyone was the shared experience of having ASD.