Understanding and supporting autistic adults in mental health services


Earn a certificate of completion

Beginner level



Approximately 3 hours to complete


100% online





About the course:

This course aims to provide you with an understanding of autism and how to support autistic adults when accessing mental health services.

The Autism Core Capability Framework was introduced in 2019. It was in recognition that people with autism face many challenges in all area of life, including when they are accessing mental and physical health care. It is also known that as a direct result of the knowledge gaps autism is sometimes not diagnosed or misdiagnosed.

The framework sets out core capabilities that clinicians and other people that support autistic people should be aware and able to follow in their practice areas.

The framework suggests 3 tiers of training depending on the responsibilities and job role of people. It also refers to the tiers as universal (Tier 1), practitioner (tier 2) and expert (Tier 3). This course is for mental health professionals that are working in mental health settings and have little or no knowledge on autism. This incorporates Tier 1 and Tier 2.

The course has been co-produced by experienced clinicians and autistic people as expert by experience. It offers the opportunity to discover personal experiences of experts by experience. This will help to highlight what is important to autistic people.

In addition, you will be able to share your experiences as well as clarify any myths and personal perspectives. This will ensure you gain knowledge and skills that can be used in your practice to enhance the quality of experience of autistic people when accessing mental health services.

Target audience:

Health care professionals including health care assistants who would be in direct contact with and would be supporting autistic adults in mental health settings.

Course content highlights:

  • Undestand what is autism and autism diagnosis
  • Personalised support for autistic people
  • Physical and mental health in autism
  • Law ethics and safeguarding
  • Diagnostic overshadowing in autism
  • Transition from child to adult and related issues and challenges for autistic people

By the end of this course you should:

  • Be able to understand of what autism is and identify signs and symptoms of autism
  • Be able to understand how autistic people experience life in a world that is geared mostly to non-autistic population
  • Understand what happens during the assessment process and how to support the person through this
  • Know about mental and physical comorbidities that are commonly experienced by autistic people
  • Know and understand risk areas and risk assessments for autistic people.

Our thanks go to all the autistic people who have contributed to this training especially by sharing their personal experiences. Their contribution has been invaluable in bringing theory to the practice area.

About the authors:

Philip Hanscombe

Philip Hanscombe RNLD (Autistic person), Clara de Barros (Autistic person), Josiah, Joseph and Stacy ( Autistic young people)

Ruwani Ampegama

Ruwani Ampegama

Head of education and training | Estia Centre, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Since she qualified as a learning disability nurse in 1993 she has worked in community learning disability settings in south London and Surrey in a variety of roles. She has also completed a degree in health and social care and a further education teacher training. Ruwani has a passion for supporting and working with people with learning disabilities and she is particularly interested in mental health, dementia, epilepsy and safeguarding. She is also passionate about influencing care through training and mentoring of staff teams.

Debbie Spain

Debbie Spain

Post-doctoral Clinical Researcher | King's College London

I am a Consultant Nurse, Cognitive Behaviour Therapist and Systemic Practitioner. I qualified as a nurse in 2000 and a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist in 2004. Since then, I have worked in inpatient and community settings; primarily in national specialist services. My roles have been varied, typically combining clinical, managerial and supervisory responsibilities. I have also been involved in carrying out research, focusing on topics including mental health, autism, the needs and wellbeing of families, and the development of psychological interventions.

Lucy Mackintosh

Dr Lucy Mackintosh

Senior Clinical Psychologist | South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Lucy has a background in working with people with autism, learning disabilities, sensory impairments, and mental health difficulties. She has an MSc from the Tizard Centre in Analysis & Intervention in Learning Disabilities. Since qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist, Lucy has worked at the National Autism Unit, an inpatient service for autistic men who are experiencing significant mental health, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Her work there includes helping to develop a shared understanding of people’s situations, offering individual therapy adapted to the needs of autistic adults, carrying out cognitive assessments, developing positive behavioural support plans, and offering staff training. Lucy has worked as a Clinical Psychologist at the NAU since 2017. She is involved in teaching for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and the MSc in Clinical Neurodevelopmental Sciences at King’s College London.

Sophie Doswell

Dr Sophie Doswell

Consultant Clinical Psychologist | South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Sophie has worked in the NHS for 20 years, with individuals with a learning disability and/or autism. She joined SLaM in 2020 and is Chair of the Faculty for People with Intellectual Disabilities within the British Psychological Society (BPS). Sophie is the Consultant Clinical Psychologist across the Neurodevelopmental pathway in South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Her responsibilities include overseeing the psychology and psychotherapy provision in inpatient and outpatient services, and across the Transforming Care Autism service, designed to support individuals in mainstream inpatient services and to keep autistic individuals out of hospital. Sophie has been working within the NHS for twenty years with adults with autism and/or learning disability. She is currently the Chair of the Faculty of Intellectual Disabilities within the British Psychological Society. Sophie is the co-author of “Sex and Relationships Education for Young People and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism” and has published academic and practice papers on a range of topics including employment, epilepsy, STOMP (Stopping the Overmedication of People with Autism and/or Learning Disabilities) and Wellbeing.

Course design:

Florin Ivan

Florin Ivan

Project Manager, Learning Hub | King's Health Partners

Cost: £0.00