Publish date: 2 April 2024

World Autism Acceptance Week 2024 runs from 2 to 8 April.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. More than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. 

Having autism does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people. Autism is something you're born with or first appears when you're very young.

We talk about autism as a spectrum condition, as while autistic people share similar characteristics, it affects everyone differently and autistic people may need varying levels of support.

There are different ways you can develop your understanding and celebrate differences and learn about others autistic experiences. Find out more on our website.

Learn more about autism by watching our short animation.

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism Part 1

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training aims to provide the health and care workforce with the right skills and knowledge to provide safe, compassionate, and informed care to autistic people and people with a learning disability.

The training is named after Oliver McGowan. Oliver was a young man whose death shone a light on the need for health and social care staff to have an increase in skills, knowledge and understanding of the needs for autistic people and people with a learning disability.

The Government issued a consultation last October (2023) on the code of practice to implement the full Oliver McGowan mandatory training Tier 1 and Tier 2 packages, as a Trust we are still awaiting the outcomes from the national consultation, date yet to be confirmed. For now, as a Mersey Care employee it is mandatory for all colleagues to complete the E-learning module with the option to access the autism and reasonable adjustment training offers as detailed in our course prospectus. Once the outcomes from the consultation are known we will then be able to inform you about any further mandatory training requirements

Hear from Paula McGowan, Oliver's mum, about the importance of this training in the video below.

Autism and Mental Health training

We are pleased to offer further dates for our successful training for all staff, aimed at helping you to recognise, understand and work effectively with autistic adults.

See dates from April to June 2024 in the attached document.

This interactive training will:

  • Increase your understanding of autism and neurodiversity
  • Provide information/tools on how you can understand, assess and provide effective interventions for adults with autism and mental health difficulties
  • Reflect on and identify realistic and potential reasonable adjustments you can make in your own work
  • Suggest what models and approaches can assist you in your work
  • Show you why we think in the way we do and understand why we can struggle with difference.

For more information email:

Reasonable adjustment

The training session will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn about what is involved in considering and applying Reasonable Adjustments (RA) in the workplace for colleagues who have a disability or Long-Term Condition (LTC).

You can book onto the training sessions in section 4 of the prospectus.

Our teams

Autism and Mental Health Support Team

This team offering specialist support to staff who may be supporting autistic people in their services.

Check out one of their recent case studies in the attached document.

Hear from staff

We've spoken to staff and patients to hear more about their experiences of living with autism, check out their stories below.

Maisy shares her personal experience of living with autism.

Maisy is a qualified social worker and joined Mersey Care's BABS service in the role of a CYP IAPT Trainee in 2024. Maisy will soon be moving over to work in CAMHS as a Senior Mental Health practitioner.

My experience of autism, by Maisy Culley

From as early as I can remember, I always felt different. I was the one who cried when separated from my main care giver; I was told I should go play with other children, but I just wanted to be by myself. I was called miserable and spoilt by those around me. Everyone used to look at me like I was strange.

I complained of smells, colours, the way clothes felt, and the uncomfortableness of being me. I couldn’t understand jokes. I would hide in social situations, and people would question why.

I presented with poor mental health throughout my teenage years. I just wanted to be part of something and tried my best to socialise, but still got told ‘’you’re quiet, you need to make friends’’ - I thought I was; but throughout school people took advantage of me, I was bullied and called a “baby”.

I was late diagnosed with autism at 22. This was a relief as I finally understood why I was different, but now I know I will have to deal with these problems for the rest of my life.

I am still on a journey of accepting myself for who I am and the superpowers I have. Yes, I am hypersensitive and have debilitating anxiety, but I now have control of finding what works for me and what doesn’t.

I always got told I wouldn’t be able to have a professional career due to my ‘’problems’’, however I find that I am able to empathise with individuals on a completely different level. I am the expert by experience and my experience is the reason I am now in the profession I am in. I still have my daily struggles; however these are my superpowers.

I am not afraid to tell people I am autistic, and I want to continue to be an advocate for those who are going through an assessment, have a diagnosis and for those who, like me, are continuing on their journey of acceptance.

It’s hard for neurodivergent individuals to fit into a neurotypical world, however, now is the time for a neurotypical society to adapt to us.

Key things to remember about autism

  • You can be autistic and have great emotional awareness
  • You can be autistic and have friends
  • You can autistic and a professional
  • You can be autistic and have children
  • You can be autistic and be verbally articulate.

I've never been happier

After 28 years living in a world of confusion and frustration, Linton Jonas was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and given the right support. Eight years on he’s loving life.

Read Linton's story in our MC Magazine.

This is me

Autism Spectrum Condition is a lifelong condition that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. It is described as a ‘spectrum disorder’ because it affects people in many ways and to varying degrees. As social media and access to information increases so does the demand for professional help.

Christine McGuinness, who featured in a documentary about her autistic children, found out she had the condition at 34.

Hear more from Christine in our MC Magazine.