The All-Ages Autism Strategy consultation which aims to seek the views of all stakeholders on how the strategy needed to be developed and how future services are to be structured has been beneficial to social care commissioning in Warwickshire.
With Autism, some adults and children experience difficulties with verbal and written communication.
It was important to use a broad range of consultation methodologies to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to have a meaningful contribution.
It can prove difficult for children and young people who have difficulties with both written and verbal communication to be heard by common approaches, such as questionnaires and focus groups.
Therefore, methods of engaging that did not rely totally on language to articulate thoughts, aspirations and experiences sufficed.
An artist, Janetka Platun was commissioned, after a very intensive search for the right person for the job.
Janetka had previously completed a comparable project for the Scottish Arts Council and had worked with 147 children and young people, using a wooden mannequin and an array of materials to create a visual “story” or picture.
She had to deliver workshops in 11 non-mainstream schools and also education colleges, working with the predominant question of “what’s important to me?”
The workshops covered key aspects of a person’s life such as education, transitions to adulthood, diagnosis and post-diagnosis support among other things.
According to the reports by the Guardian:
“Janetka used this as the visual prompt to explore this story further.
Participants could talk to her about the image as it was personal and unique to them, and the interaction didn’t rely on the social cues of direct conversation which some people with autism struggle with.”
Each school and college received an individual and collated report detailing the themes of the artistic consultation session, artwork and quotes from the participants.
This exercise dealt with offering a process that enabled and supported the different ways in which people communicate, outside the traditional norm.
The creative consultation helped to reach double the number of people than if it was a questionnaire used. It addressed the points of view of the autistic and also suggested advantages of other ranges of consultative approaches.