Few autistic adults perceive that health and social care professionals have good understanding of autism. The countywide Autism Champion Network evaluated here, is an equal partnership of both staff across sectors (Autism Champions) and individuals with lived experience. Autism Champions take knowledge gained back to their teams to support continuous development of services to meet autistic need. This evaluation aims to examine the professional Autism Champions’ perceptions of: (a) the knowledge gained through their local network; and (b) the enablers and potential challenges of disseminating and applying the acquired knowledge. Seven health and social sector professionals participated in semi-structured interviews with thematic analysis identifying the themes ‘Learning from People’, ‘Makes you think of things in a different light’ and ‘There’s so much going on…’. Results indicated that knowledge of autism gained from networking outside their own team was used and valued more than the professional presentations. This included signposting, sharing resources, using contacts to answer questions, and informal learning from autistic people. These results have implications for developing learning for Tier 2 and above staff. Additionally, they could inform the development of future Autism Champion Networks to expand professionals’ knowledge of autism to reduce health and social care inequalities.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 16 Mar 2023|