New £100,000 short breaks fund launches for carers of autistic adults in Scotland

More than 250 families will be given the chance to have an adventure – or simply relax


A new £100,000 fund has launched to help parents of autistic adults to have fun, relax and take a much-needed break from their caring roles.


Over the next year, more than 250 families in Scotland will benefit from the Autism Short Breaks Project, delivered by Autism Initiatives, the National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism. The leading autism charities are encouraging families to be indulgent, adventurous and creative when planning their short break.


Richard Ibbotson, National Director at Autism Initiatives, said: “We recognise that caring for an autistic adult can be exhausting, and that’s why we want to give carers a well-deserved treat. People can use this fund to go on a trip, buy equipment for a hobby, try something for the first time or go back to something they haven’t been able to do for a long while.”


Jenny Paterson, Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “It’s not possible to look after someone else if you’re not looking after yourself, that’s why short breaks for carers are so important. The great thing about this fund is that it’s really flexible. You decide when, where and what you want to do, and we’ll make it happen!”


Gail McKeitch (57) has two sons with autism. Her eldest, Greg, requires 24-hour care. Gail’s day starts at 7am, when she washes and dresses Greg, and ends after midnight when she settles him in bed.


She said: “I tell other carers that they need time to recharge their batteries – but sometimes I need to remind myself to take my own advice!  “My husband and I had our first holiday in ten years this summer and it was wonderful to have that time together. Caring for your grown up child as if they are still a little child can be a very difficult thing to do, but we do it out of love. I’m glad this fund is specifically for the carers of adults, it will make a huge difference to families like mine.”


Carers are being encouraged to apply for the first round of funding from the fund before 22 January 2016 by visiting Grants of up to £300 are available.


Funding for the Autism Short Breaks Project comes from the Creative Breaks Fund and provided by the Scottish Government. In total, the programme has awarded just under £1 million to 68 projects from Orkney to the Scottish Borders, which will benefit more than 4,000 carers and their families.


Mary Hamilton, support manager at Scottish Autism, added: “We are very pleased that the Scottish Government has created this fund and asked Scotland’s three leading autism charities to manage it. We know how challenging caring for an adult with autism can be, and we are pleased to be working together on this.”

Autism Short Breaks Project funding applies to families and carers of an adult with autism (over 16 years of age). The carer may be someone under the age of 16. To find out more and make an application, please visit

Autism Resource Centre launch The Inspirational – Autumn 2015

The Autism Resource Centre (ARC) is pleased to present the Autumn 2015 edition of The Inspirational – a newsletter produced by people on the Autism Spectrum. You can find the new edition of the Inspirational here: The Inspirational Newsletter – Autumn 2015.


The Autism Resource Centre hopes that you will enjoy reading the latest edition and that you will pass it on to your friends, colleagues, parents of children or adults on the spectrum and any adults with autism with whom you have contact.


The Inspirational Editorial Group would like to thank all of the contributors to this edition. They would welcome feedback from readers on the content of the newsletter, so please get in touch if you have something that you would like to tell them or a question that you would like to ask on 0141 276 7182.


You can find out more information about the Autism Resource Centre by clicking here.


The Winter 2015 issue of The Inspirational will be circulated in February 2015. If you are an adult on the autism spectrum and you would like to contribute an article for this or future newsletters, or find out more about joining our editorial group, please get in touch by email to

Strategy’s Annual Conference focuses on good autism practice

The Scottish Strategy for Autism Fourth Annual Conference will take place on December 8, 2015 at the University of StrathclydeTechnology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow. This year’s theme is good autism practice at strategic, service and individual levels.

Topics and presentations for the day include:

  • Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health will give his perspective on the considerable progress the Scottish Strategy for Autism is making in improving quality of life for those with autism and their families
  • Good practice in local authorities across Scotland
  • Major initiatives that are transforming practice at key points in individuals’ lives (e.g. transitions, employment)
  • Workshops that showcase good practice
  • What some of the Autism Development Fund projects have achieved

This event is geared towards practitioners; however, a wide range of stakeholders have received invitations. We hope practitioners will make a special effort to come along and hear about the last year’s developments and progress on the Scottish Strategy for Autism. There will be many examples of good practice presented on the day and we hope these ideas will be taken away by those best positioned to implement them across Scotland.

If you are interested in attending the event and would like to join the waiting list, please email John Currie. We’ll notify you if there are still places available soon after the RSVP deadline of November 17.

NES publishes updated autism web resource for GPs, PCPs

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has just published an updated web resource on autism spectrum disorders. The resource is designed for use by general and primary care practitioners. It offers information on a number of topics including screening, diagnosis, health and behaviour, and adjustments to practice.

The initial resource was produced by the autism team at the University of Birmingham and commissioned by NES. The Scottish Government commissioned NES to develop a number of autism-related training materials, including the Autism Training Framework and Autism Training Plan. During this process, an e-learning resource containing practical strategies for primary care practitioners was also developed. This work was conducted by the NES autism project managers, Dr Janine Robinson and Dr Gail Milroy, under the direction of Marie Claire Shankland, the NES director of the autism project.

NES worked closely with the autism community on the review and revision of the web resource’s content. Thom Kirkwood, Michael Dawson, and Kabie Brook reviewed the resource and obtained feedback from others in the broader autism community, including ARGH (Autism Rights Group Highland) and other community groups.  Thom recently thanked the autism community on social media, saying, “Us three could not have made such contributions without your help and support from across the autism community. I can advise that NES took all feedback on board to produce a vastly improved resource.” He went on to describe the process as “another example of positive strategic partnership working” and thanked the NES team.

The updated web resource can be accessed by clicking here.

ARGH seeks contributions for book on autism and menopause

ARGH (Autism Rights Group Highland) are hoping to publish their first book. The book will be edited and produced in partnership with Debbie Allan, an autistic person from Glasgow. The book’s subject will be menopause, from an autistic perspective.

ARGH are looking for writing submissions from adults who identify as autistic (with or without diagnosis.) They would like submissions about the author’s own experience of menopause: having been through, going through currently or looking to the future and how they feel about that stage of life. They would like submissions of up to 1,500 words (about three typed pages.)

Each chapter of the book will be written by a different autistic person describing their experiences. A medical professional will also contribute to provide medical facts.

There is a limited amount of space so it might not be possible to accept all submissions. Accepted submissions might be edited, but the edited version would be discussed with the contributor and only published if and when it was agreed on.

The book will also contain a question and answer section. The answers will be provided by either autistic people or a medical professional. This section will be medical fact and discussion, it is not meant provide medical advice to individual readers.

If you would like to contribute, please email Kabie Brook with your submission no later than January 31, 2016. Contributions will be printed crediting the original author, either with their own name or pseudonym, as they prefer.

You may choose to answer the suggested questions below, or to write about anything else in relation to your personal experiences. Suggestions for questions to think about in your writing (you do not have to answer all or any of these questions):

  • Did you feel supported through menopause? If so, what was helpful, and who were you supported by?
  • What do you think medical professionals, support staff or family members need to consider when supporting an autistic person through menopause?
  • Did you find ways of coping with symptoms of menopause that you feel others would benefit from? If so, please share them.
  • Had you thought about menopause before you went through it yourself? If so was it as you imagined, better or worse?

ARGH and other book project members would like to thank Caroline Hearst of AutAngel and Autism Matters for her advice on this project.

To read more about ARGH, please click here.

To follow ARGH on Twitter: @ARGHighland