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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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Ardenleigh leads the way in recognising needs of autistic young people

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust’s forensic children and adolescent mental health service (FCAMHS) has become the first secure service in Britain to receive autism accreditation by the National Autistic Society.

This news comes ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which aims to raise public awareness of the condition.

The specialist service, based at Ardenleigh in Erdington, will receive this accolade during a ceremony in May in recognition of the special provisions it has made for service users on the autism spectrum.

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. 

Staff initially learnt their success earlier this year, after 18 months hard work to achieve accreditation from the charity, which operates a quality assurance programme for autism. Usually this process takes three years to complete.

Our trust’s FCAMHS service and its staff had to demonstrate specialist knowledge and understanding of autism and how that knowledge informs all aspects of assessment, care and practice.

Younger service users will now benefit from early diagnosis and appropriate treatment to meet their developmental needs and will also be provided with information and support around their condition. Staff have received extensive training to expand their knowledge of autism and the range of diagnosis on the autistic spectrum, which has increased their confidence in meeting young people’s needs.

Accreditation by NAS also provides the trust with a “kitemark” of excellence, recognised around the world, in working with young people with developmental disorders.

Dr Hilary Grant, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, said: “This is a wonderful achievement by all the staff at Ardenleigh, who strive to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment for all our service users.

Fiona McGruer, programme director, added: “This is the first secure CAMHS service in Britain to achieve this level of excellence, as recognised by the National Autistic Society. We are now keen to share our expertise with our colleagues in this specialist field.”

Robert Pritchett, director of the NAS Accreditation Scheme, added: “The autism accreditation award provides a seal of quality and aims to improve the quality of provision for people with autism.

“All the staff at Ardenleigh have put in a great amount of effort to achieve this accreditation and we are extremely proud of their achievements. Autism is a lifelong and disabling condition, but with the right support, at the right time, children with autism can flourish”.

Autism accreditation provides an autism-specific quality assurance programme for more than 300 organisations throughout the UK and across the globe, which include local authorities, NHS trusts, education authorities, local autism societies and private companies.

The award provides a seal of quality and can give people peace of mind when choosing a service for a relative or friend. For more information please visit http://www.autism.org.uk/accreditation