Autism Education at a GP Child Health Hub

The CC4C GP Hubs are places where many health professionals invested in Paediatrics gather and provide a link between primary and secondary services with the aim of providing the best possible healthcare for children and young people.

Cases are discussed during the Hubs and we often receive requests from GPs or other primary health care professionals for further learning opportunities on certain topics. One of those topics has been autism.

We organised an autism-focused teaching session at the multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting of Barlby Hub on Tuesday 12th March. We were privileged to hear Sue Redmond and Virginie Isbell from the Full of Life charity speak with great emotion and expertise on the challenges, complexities and general experiences of parenting an autistic child. We heard how parents with severely autistic children often have to take on the role of a carer rather than a traditional parent. The ‘job description’ this requires is demanding and extensive. They explained the incredible work that Full of Life does in supporting families through the complex logistical processes that families can face in order to access services, signposting them to tried and tested services and providing support for the day-to-day of caring for an autistic child.

Dr Stefan Studnik, Paediatric Consultant in Child Development, also kindly gave up his time to answer questions. He discussed the local referral pathways and the current structure of services for children with autism. The GPs reported that it was great to meet one of the specialists that they often refer to. At Woodfield Road (the home of the Child Development Service) they offer workshops on topics such as toilet training, sleeping and eating and advice on all sorts of things such as how to help your autistic child to brush their teeth. Woodfield Road also has a breadth of professionals including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. They also offer post-diagnostic groups for children and their families with the aim of minimising the involvement of professionals where possible. It was discussed that their challenges include improving cultural understanding of disability.

Here is some of the super feedback that was given regarding the session:

‘Thank you for arranging such a successful and informative MDT. It was thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed by all who attended at Barlby. And it was wonderful to be introduced to the experts!! My opinion as a senior GP is that these specialist sessions could potentially be fantastic learning opportunities for all concerned and we would love to receive more of them. Thank you again.’

It is safe to say that this session was a great success and given the feedback we hope to go on to provide further specialist sessions at Barlby, and perhaps other Hubs, in the future.