Programme for week commencing 18th July, 2012

Yvonne our Equality & Diversity Officer writes about how Autism Awareness is important in the Criminal Justice System:

National Overview – It is estimated that more than 500,000 people in the UK have autism, that is one person in every 100.  This means in Wiltshire there could be as many as 4,500 individuals with autism.  In January 2010 the Autism Act came into force.  This was followed in March 2010 by the publication of the Government’s strategy Fulfilling and rewarding lives: The strategy for adults with autism in England.

Because of difficulty with social communication, interaction and imagination, people with autism can easily become involved with the Criminal Justice System, either as perpetrators, victims or witnesses, therefore one of the seven quality outcomes expected as a result of the implementation of the strategy is Adults with autism are no longer managed inappropriately in the Criminal Justice System’. 

Local Overview – The Wiltshire Autism Partnership was set up in 2009 with the purpose of improving the lives of people with autism. Supported by the Government’s strategy, The Autism Partnership developed a local strategy in 2010/11.  A formal consultation was held between November 2011 and January 2012 and work is now underway to deliver the plan. In recognition of the need to engage with Criminal Justice agencies, representatives from the Police, Probation and Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board were invited to become involved.  Since then, information produced by the Partnership has been circulated by the Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board, to Criminal Prosecution Service, Courts (HMCTS), Prisons (HMPS) and Police. One of our early eClub members, Dave King from the Swindon Advertiser, was very much involved in this initiative.

As part of the strategy implementation, the Wiltshire Autism Partnership decided to hold an away day.  Numerous partners including those from the Criminal Justice System were invited to attend.

The purpose of the day was

  • To develop an implementation plan, feeding into the Dept of Health self assessment process.
  • To ensure there is good representation – or mechanisms for representation – to feed into the work of the autism partnership.
  • To provide an opportunity to reflect and network.

Delegates included representatives from Wiltshire Council including social workers and service commissioners, National Health Service, Job Centre Plus, Carers, individuals with autism/Asperger’s, National Autistic Society and the WCJB. Actions identified broadly followed three themes, covering appropriate data, training and information, so as to be able to understand how the service is experienced by those with autism and to develop staff awareness of autism throughout the system.

More information on Autism can be found at: Autism Awareness or Public Autism Awareness

How can Rotary help promote Autism Awareness on their International Day on the 2nd April 2013?


In Canada, they are developing a Rotary Autism Awareness Group. Is this something we could do, so that Rotary within their communities could help raise awareness of Autism?  Yvonne is willing to help coordinate this initiative if members would be interested in taking this forward.

  • What has been your personal awareness of Autism?
  • We propose that on a date to be determined (before World Autism Day)  the District 1100 eClub runs a workshop for Rotarians on Autism Awareness and asking that every Rotary Club in District 1100 tries to have an Autism Champion by the end of this Rotary Year 2012/13, would you be happy to support this?
  • If this is an initiative we want to proceed with, what other actions can we take to help encourage Rotary to be more Autism Aware?


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0 thoughts on “Autism Awareness

  1. AG-Richard says:

    Hi Yvonne

    I will raise this at my Zone Meeting on Wednesday 25th July to gain some feedback.

    How will you promote the workshop for the other clubs?

    At this stage do you have a vision on the role of the Autism Champion in the club?

    GooD luck with the campaign?


  2. Janice Mason says:

    I have had three jobs where I was involved in helping people with autism and Asperger’s find employment. The hardest thing was not finding the job that was right for the person, but finding employers who were prepared to go the extra mile to allow changes to a job role to take account of how the individual needed to carry out their tasks, to give the individual enough time to learn each task in their own way, prepared to work with other staff to help them be aware of how to best interact with the individual and most of all, where relevant, not afraid of what their customer’s would think.

    One young lady had worked hard to gain a degree and post grad qualifications in graphic design, she did beautiful work, but only of things she thought of, she could not draw anybody else’s idea. We thought that she would need to work in a large company where the choice of projects allowed her to do this, but no-one was prepared to make the allowances required. We eventually found one lone designer who was very willing to help and gave her the projects where customers had no idea of what they wanted, giving her free reign to develop the project in her own way. He had to work hard at helping her to understand ‘tweaking’ needed to the designs, based on customer feedback and expectations, but he always said that the time invested in doing this was outweighed by the creative talent she brought into the company.

    At the training centre I managed our secretary and receptionist was autistic. When anyone phoned they had very blunt responses, but they always got all the information they asked for. His mathematics and memory skills were superb, the petty cash and expenses exceedingly well managed and all clients’ files very efficiently filed. He also helped every single client find out any information they needed to know, again in a very blunt way, but they all knew they were getting the best information available. When the centre closed he gained a job in some law courts in the filing department – he knew where every single file was and what case it was relevant to – who needs computers!

    As rotarians we come into contact with many people in the community and are involved in the employment of people. How autistic aware are we to be able to help these gifted individuals find satisfaction in our communities and employment?

  3. Heather says:

    Hi Yzanne. To answer your questions, I have no personal experience of autism, which makes me reluctant to take on the role suggested in point 2 as I feel someone with experience of the condition would do a far better job. How do we make Rotary more Autism Aware? Good question. Perhaps, picking up on Janice’s point about the super-organised receptionist, we can learn about the strengths of autistic individuals and how to spot the signs, so that as individuals we don’t dismiss someone as rude or a bit brusque, but we can see there’s rather more to it than that and not only ourselves be that bit understanding, but help those around us to be so too.

    • Tim Mason says:

      Hi Heather, Just clarify your concern about the proposed workshop, we would get assistance to do this from an Autism Awareness Charity and would need to consider running the workshop in various areas of the District 1100. Plus this would be a good campaign to promote awareness through the Social Networks, thus giving us a project which can be done on a more virtual basis. Tim

  4. Heather says:

    Oooops, sorry Yvonne! You can both get your own back by calling me Helen, Hazel, Hayley etc, I’ve been called them all. My maiden name was also a well known girls’ name so you can imagine how confusing that could get.

    For sure, promoting awareness through various online methods would work very well and be pretty straightforward to achieve. The project sounds very interesting.

  5. Lynne says:


    Great idea. I fully support this project and will be more than happy to work with you on this in whatever way I can.

  6. Lynne says:

    Ooooops! Yvonne…..I’ve now called you Janice!!!! I must have caught the condition from Heather!! Sincere apologies. I give you permission to call me anything you like!

  7. Mary says:

    An interesting idea. I was wondering whether it would be worthwhile talking about disability and how it affects people and raised awareness of the autistic spectrum in that way. Intellectual disabilities and Psychosocial disabilities are how Learning disabilities and mental health problems are described. I think people confuse the two and people with aspergers in particular often get wrongly diagnosed and treated with anti psychotic medication. Perhaps a debate about this would be interesting.

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