Kirklees is going autism friendly with the launch of an innovative assessment tool to help improve environments.
The Checklist for Autism Friendly Environments was developed by Kirklees Council and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
It asks if people can consider whether there are simple, low-cost adaptations that can be made to environments to improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum.
Many people with autism have some kind of sensory sensitivity. For example, they could be hypersensitive to noise and cover their ears to block it out.
The environment they are in can have a range of impacts from affecting their concentration and making them feel worried and isolated to aggression, self-harm and deterioration in mental health.
Buildings and rooms can be improved by making simple changes to such things as lighting, colour schemes and the arrangement of furniture.
The checklist can be used in any room in any environment and will have particular value to organisations working in health care, social care, leisure, education and residential care.
Stephen Simpson, a specialist autism nurse at the Trust, based at Manygates Clinic in Wakefield, developed the checklist. He said: “It’s for everyone, the whole of society, to be more autism friendly.
“It empowers carers and professionals to begin to change homes, wards, classrooms and other settings for the benefit of those on the autism spectrum.
“If by making organisations aware that they can make a difference and be more autism friendly then I am happy.”
Cabinet Member for Prevention, Early Intervention and Vulnerable Adults, Cllr Viv Kendrick said, “This new assessment tool will give organisations a real opportunity to make accessing services and businesses easier for people with autism.
“It’s easy to underestimate the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives, including employment, shopping and accessing help and support. I very much look forward to hearing about the impact this is having and how organisations have improved as a result of using this toolkit.”