Having well-trained staff is key to ensuring good quality autism services, especially since people affected with autism generally tend to have higher support needs than other populations in terms of daily living, as well as their mental and physical health. Poorly-trained staff can have detrimental effects on service provision and staff morale and can lead to staff burn-out, as well as increased service user anxiety and stress. This paper reports on a survey with health, social care, and education staff who work within the statutory autism services sector in the UK that explored their knowledge and training with regards to autism. Interview data obtained from staff and service users offer qualitative illustrations of survey findings. Overall, the findings expose an acute lack of autism-specific training that has detrimental impacts. At best, this training was based on brief and very basic awareness raising rather than on in-depth understanding of issues related to autism or skills for evidence-based practice. Service users were concerned with the effects that the lack of staff training had on the services they received. The paper concludes with a discussion of policy routes to achieving quality staff training based on international best practice. The focus is on improving the quality of life and mental health for services users and staff, as well as making potentially significant cost-savings for governments.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited