National Autistic Society - Autism Specialist Award

Ioana Brezeanu

The National Autistic Society’s Autism Accreditation Programme is the UK’s only autism specific quality assurance programme of support and development for all those providing services to autistic people. Achieving accreditation proves that an organisation is committed to understanding autism and setting the standard for autism practice. There are currently 368 services, schools and organisations with accreditation in the UK.

SJOG currently has one service fully accredited under the National Autistic Society’s accreditation scheme, with a further two services going through the programme in 2023 and 2024; 1 Bedes Close and The Old Vicarage. The programme has a tailored timeframe from commencement of a service self-assessment to full assessment by an allocated NAS modifier. SJOG has a dedicated modifier who remains supporting our charity and makes regular calls and visits to our services.

The accreditation assessment involves a two day visit to the service where robust practical observation is completed and a full review of organisational and person centred documentation takes place. Our modifier also meets with the people we support, colleagues and engages with families and professionals to make the final decision on accreditation.

Accreditation awarding is assessed against a four tiered framework including: Aspiring, Accredited, Advanced and Beacon Status and the decision is agreed by panel of autism professionals based upon evidence evaluated over the two days.

The five key areas evaluated are:

  • Commitment and Consultation
  • Social Communication, Interactions and Relationships
  • Functional Skills and Self-reliance
  • Sensory Experiences
  • Emotional Wellbeing

Sandown Road undertook the accreditation programme in early 2020 but due to covid restrictions and limitations on evidence collection the process took around 2 years to complete. Despite the barriers the service faced we achieved the Autism Specialist Accredited Award (Accredited) which is now proudly displayed in the entrance to the service.

By engaging and successfully completing the programme we have been able to develop and embed a sound understanding of the accreditation process and the outcomes it has supported us to achieve as a charity. Some of these outcomes include:

  • The development of SJOG Autism Strategy
  • The Autism Quality of Life Framework and Policy
  • Approaches to sensory assessment and sensory diets
  • Effective communication approaches
  • Capable Environments and effective service design for the people we support
  • Autism Support Group on Facebook that reaches beyond SJOG and facilitate education and support for families and carers of autistic people.
  • Focused space for Autism Information on the SJOG website including facts sheets and podcasts

And lots more!

Not only have we enabled our teams to be robust autism practitioners, we see daily the impact that this has on the people who live in and access our services. Autistic people in services are engaging with their communities more and we continue through the application of the ASQoL (Autism Quality of Life Measure) to develop our training opportunities and complex needs pathway in order to support a wide range of positive approaches to Quality of Life outcomes.

To see more information about our autism services click here:

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