Integrated Autism Service Celebrates 5th Anniversary

The Cardiff and Vale Integrated Autism Service (IAS) is celebrating five years of supporting autistic adults and their carers in our region. We offer diagnostic and support services and work with mainstream services to increase their skills and knowledge in working with autistic people.

As part of acknowledging 5 years since the Integrated Autism Service was set up, we asked staff who work for Cardiff and Vale IAS the following: –

What have been your favourite moments working for IAS?

“My best moment was hearing, for the first time, the voice of someone who I have been working with for a few years who is selectively mute.”

“One of my favourite moments was when we got the minibus to the autism conference! It was such an achievement for so many of our service users to attend and the day on the whole was really successful. The bus was completely silent on the way there as most people were anxious but on the way home, people were talking to one another, sharing stories and arranging meet ups, it was just brilliant.”

“My favourite moments are always confirming a diagnosis for people, especially when they have struggled in life and have not understood why.”

“I enjoyed setting up the Volunteer route for IAS and seeing the first volunteer start supporting the Post Diagnosis Group. It is so important that we have the service users’ voice within the services we provided. It also helps for the autistic person to see themselves represented in this way and they can place a different value on the information being shared with them by an ally with lived experience.”

“My favourite moments are all from facilitating groups, It’s great to see the participants sharing experiences and relating to one another and feeling part of a community when many have not been around many other autistic adults before taking part. Especially when participants choose to share contact information with each other to keep in touch! It’s lovely to see.”

How has working with autistic people influenced you?

“I think that this work has given me a deeper appreciation of the value of difference in humans both in and out of the work environment.”

“Working with autistic people has made me understand, accept and encourage difference, both at work and in personal life. It continuously reminds to think about other ways of viewing a situation and I think we are privileged to work with such an awesome group of people.”

“I’ve worked with autistic people for about 30 years now, but I would like to think that doing so has made me more positive, patient and understanding of anyone with differences.”

“I am now more aware of neurodiversity across my community and have a better understanding of how to support the needs of those individuals in everyday life. I have also been able to educate my husband and children on how they can support the needs of the neurodivergent community and they have adopted a new and progressive attitude in their extracurricular activities. Recently my daughter created a visual guide to putting up a tent for an autistic team member on her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award who was having difficulties with this. This individual felt seen and supported and it made a great difference to their experience.”

“I think that working at the IAS has made me a more patient person, both with myself and others. This is because I have been able to embrace the individual differences within the community and advocate for those who need support.”

A message from our clinical lead

“I feel very privileged and grateful to be the Clinical Lead in the Cardiff and Vale IAS. It is a wonderful team to be part of; the staff are hardworking and supportive, and they are positive about progressing and developing the service – we have come a long way in 5 years! The team are dedicated and passionate about getting alongside autistic adults and carers to achieve their goals, and in supporting and encouraging other services to better meet the needs of autistic people. I have worked with autistic people for 27 years and every day I feel grateful to those who share their stories with me and who teach me about different, often better, ways of seeing the world. I learn from every person I support and use this learning to support others. I hope we can continue to develop the service, and we are always hopeful for additional funding so that we can provide quicker access and a better service to our community.”

The Cardiff and Vale Integrated Autism Service (IAS) is a multi-agency specialist autism service with staff from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff Council, and The Vale of Glamorgan Council.

We work closely with partner organisations in health, social care, and the third sector. The service was set up following the provision of funding from The Welsh Government to develop Integrated Autism Services across Wales

We asked people who had used the service what they thought. Here are their comments:

“I felt like I was listened to and the team understood me. Whole process was clearly explained and carried out in friendly way. Very experienced and understanding.”

“It was uncomplicated, especially with the self-referral. The wait is shorter than in some areas of the UK. The correspondence was straight forward and very helpful. And today wasn’t scary.”

“It was very helpful – The staff are friendly. The response was very efficient and all the information was very useful and easy to understand.”

“X was extremely anxious about both today and the outcome of the assessment. staff put X at ease immediately. She was kind, explained everything well and non-judgmental. The offer of any follow-up advice/appointments was surprise and extremely welcome.”

“The people are nice.”

“Very helpful people, with lots of clear information provided in advance.”

“I needed some help to apply for Disability Student Support and the team was superb in helping and completing the forms that needed completing. I am very grateful.”

“Service as a whole has been very helpful since going on the waiting list and has been responsive when asked questions. Assessors have been lovely and very helpful too.”

“Very helpful made you feel at ease.”

“The service was very helpful and supportive throughout my treatment plan. The treatment helped me achieve the specific goals that I wanted to achieve i.e. Gaining weight.”

“A long wait to get here (one year) but what fantastic, supportive autism support officer never felt pressured or judged. I was so anxious, but was made to feel safe and appreciated the entire time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I appreciate your service.”

“Everyone was friendly and supportive. The process was clear. The building was nice. The staff made me feel safe to be myself.”

“Very friendly staff who were understanding, calm and reassuring. I felt I understood. Throughout what was being sought from process and my expectations were managed well.”

“I found both practitioners to be very friendly and approachable- some of the exercises were awkward but I can see why they need to be done. I found both practitioners to be knowledgeable and it was a relief to know the answer.”

“Both my daughter and I were made to feel at ease on arrival. Questions were exploratory and were asked in such a way that the answer came naturally and honestly. Felt compassion and understanding throughout.”

“Both assessors were friendly and listened alternatively. I received a good outcome and I think I would have regardless of the diagnosis because I was signposted to other service.”

“I felt validated and listened to. The clinicians were very patient, kind and understanding. There was ample time to process thigs. You were fab!”

“Very positive relationship with the service from first contact. The team made a safe space to my assessment, and showed interest in me. I felt listened to and acknowledged. It is a difficult thing to do but the service had made it as comfortable as it could be. Thanks!”

“Excellent services, thoroughly assessed, felt like listened to, friendly staff, understanding, facilities for Disabled are fab too. Finally feel as if my life and habits have explanation.”

“I felt listened to, the process felt very thorough and not at all rushed. Also felt reflected the team and listened to also me as a primary source of information and felt believed. The frog story telling was very enjoyable.”

“The assessment process was very friendly and helpful, nobody/nothing made me feel overly anxious/nervous/uncomfortable. Relatively straightforward/clear – in terms of expectations, communications etc.”

“I felt listened to. Now I have more clarity about where my differences lay. Why I struggle etc.”

“Very kind and genuine. Made a different and stressful experience manageable. Quick diagnosis.”

“The people I saw today were friendly and put me at ease.”

“Great advice and support opportunities.”

“It was really helpful and I felt glad that the service was availed and easily contacted.”

“Very welcoming and understanding very kind in intervention.”

“Very comfortable environment. Friendly staff.”


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