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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Local families invited to take part in new autism education programme

BSMS > About BSMS > News > Local families invited to take part in new autism education programme

Local families invited to take part in new autism education programme

Families in Brighton and Hove, and across Sussex, are being invited to take part in a ground-breaking new education programme called Time for Autism. The programme, launched by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), aims to transform healthcare for autistic people by increasing the knowledge and understanding of future doctors. 

Time for Autism is a valuable opportunity for children and young people on the autism spectrum and their families to share their experiences and expertise with medical students. Each family will be paired with two students from BSMS who will visit them at home three times over the course of a year, starting in September 2021. During the visits students will have a unique opportunity to talk to families and listen to their experiences and their expertise. They will learn more about autism and the impact it has on day-to-day life. 

The launch of the Time for Autism programme is in time for World Autism Awareness Week, which runs from 29 March to 4 April 2021.

Alison Smith, Time for Autism Development Manager, said: “Autism has been identified as an area where undergraduate medical training needs improvement. Future doctors need to have the appropriate skills, knowledge, empathy and understanding to provide good quality care to autistic people and their families.”

Charmaine and Karen, parents of a five-year-old daughter with autism, said: “It feels so rewarding to be part of a project aiming to improve our daughter’s experiences with medical services in her future, and for our own knowledge and experience to be valued and actively sought. In a context where we, as parents of a child with autism, can often feel side-lined or devalued, it feels empowering to be part of something that brings knowledge and mutual understanding between families impacted by autism and the professionals who will be assisting us in the future.” 

The project is a collaboration between BSMS, local families, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, local charities and voluntary groups.

This new initiative is informed by Time for Dementia, a novel and award-winning educational programme in which people with dementia and their carers teach undergraduate medical and healthcare students about what it is like to live with the condition. 

The programme is keen to recruit more families to participate. If you would like to know more, please contact Alison Smith at: sc-tr.timeforautism@nhs.net or 07717 450954 / 01273 877896.

Find out more about Time for Autism here >